Emergency Contraception ("EC", "The Morning After Pill")
What is EC?
- Emergency contraception is medication that can reduce the chance of pregnancy when taken after sex.
- Sometimes called the "morning after pill," it does not absolutely need to be taken the next day.
- It may be taken up to five (5) days after sex, but is best taken as soon as possible within the first three (3) days.
- The sooner it is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it will be in preventing pregnancy.
- SHC providers can assist you in obtaining a reliable method of contraception for regular use.
What EC is not
- EC is not an abortion pill.
- It will not work if you are already pregnant.
- It will not harm an existing pregnancy.
- EC is a "back up" method and should not be relied on as a “regular” method of birth control.
- Even if used perfectly, EC is not as effective as other birth control methods taken or used to prevent pregnancy such as birth control pills, Nuva Ring, etc.
How does EC work?
- EC prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
- All of these events happen before the start of pregnancy, medically defined as the implantation of a fertilized egg in the lining of a woman's uterus.
- EC is not an abortion pill.
- If a pregnancy is already established, EC will not interfere with that pregnancy and there are no known risks to the developing fetus.
How do I get EC?
- The SHC offers a brand of EC called Plan B. Plan B contains the hormone levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in many birth control pills. Plan B does not contain the hormone estrogen.
- Call the SHC (585) 475-2255 or stop in to make an appointment with a medical provider as soon as possible.
- Make sure the receptionist knows you need a same day appointment.
- The provider will ask questions to determine if EC is appropriate for you. You may purchase the medication from the SHC. The cost is currently $20 (cash, check, TigerBucks, Visa or Mastercard).
- EC is now also available at local pharmacies (medication page) without a prescription and without requiring proof of age. There are different brand names-Plan B, Next Choice, Take Action-but they are all the same medicine-levonorgestrel.
- In some pharmacies (Wegmans and Walmart, for ex.) it is kept behind the pharmacy counter. Just ask for it, but remember, you can only obtain it when the pharmacy is open. At Target, it is kept over the counter with the condoms.
- The cost varies depending on the store and the brand. You can certainly call to check the current price.
- Your medical insurance may cover the cost of EC-check with your insurance company.
- The SHC does not accept insurance as a direct form of payment. You will be given a receipt that you can try submitting to your insurance company.
How do I take EC?
- Plan B One Step consists of one pill taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
- Check the package instructions for other brands of EC.
Are there any side effects?
With levonorgestrel EC, it is very uncommon to experience side effects. Some women may have mild nausea so it is best to take the pills with food.
What can I expect after I take EC?
- Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle at the time you take Plan B, your period may start on time or be a few days early or late.
- If your period is late, make an appointment at the SHC for a pregnancy test.
- Urine pregnancy tests usually become accurate starting 10 days after conception. If your period is not due yet but it has been at least 10 days since you had sex, you can make an appointment for a pregnancy test or use an over the counter home test.
Who might want to consider EC?
A woman might want to consider EC if:
- The condom broke or slipped off during sex
- Her diaphragm or cervical cap slipped during sex
- No birth control method was used
- Birth control pills were forgotten or missed
- She was forced to have unprotected vaginal sex (Sexual Assault Information)
Can I purchase EC to have available "just in case"?
- This is especially recommended for those relying on condoms alone for birth control (accidents happen).
- Then if there is a problem with the condom, you can then take the EC as soon as possible to maximize its effectiveness.
Does EC protect me against sexually transmitted infections (STI's)?
- Like regular birth control pills, Nuva Ring and other forms of birth control other than condoms, EC offers no protection against STIs.
- If you have had unprotected sex, consider coming to the SHC for STD testing.
- Even if you are taking/using another form of birth control such as birth control pills, Nuva Ring, an IUD, etc. the SHC recommends using condoms (male or female) and barriers such as dental dams consistently for oral, vaginal and anal sex.
The SHC recommends...
That you begin using a reliable birth control method regularly to prevent pregnancy.
Providers can assist with answering questions, discussing birth control options, providing informational print materials and helping you make an appointment for a women's health care annual exam.
Where can I get more information?