Missed Birth Control - Emergency

Contraceptive Counseling and Pill Prescription

Emergency birth control can be used up to five days after unprotected intercourse to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. However, the sooner it is started, the better it works. If you are aged 17 or over, both Plan B and Ella are pills that are available over the counter without a prescription. The price you pay may vary from $10.00-$70.00. If you are under 17 or need a prescription you will want to call to talk with a nurse-midwife for advice and an appointment. In any case, it is important to schedule an appointment after using emergency contraception so you can choose a more effective, long term method of birth control. A Paragard IUD (intrauterine device) can also be placed and used as emergency birth control, is 99.9% effective, and can then stay in place offering you long term pregnancy protection. Emergency contraceptive pills reduce the chance of pregnancy by 89% when taken in the first 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, but are less effective as time passes. Some instances where emergency birth control may be a good option for you are : 

  • The condom broke or slipped off, and he ejaculated in your vagina
  • You forgot to take your birth control pills, insert your ring, or apply your patch
  • Your diaphragm or cap slipped out of place, and he ejaculated inside your vagina
  • You miscalculated your "safe" days
  • He didn't pull out in time
  • You weren't using any birth control
  • You were forced to have unprotected vaginal sex

All brands of the morning-after pill work by keeping a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. The hormone in the morning-after pill also prevents pregnancy by thickening a woman's cervical mucus. The mucus blocks sperm and keeps it from joining with an egg. The morning-after pill can also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. You might have also heard that the morning-after pill causes an abortion. But that's not true. The morning-after pill is not the abortion pill. Emergency contraception is birth control, not abortion. If you do not have your period within three weeks after taking emergency contraception, you may want to consider taking a pregnancy test. The morning-after pill offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases or infections. You may want to consider STD testing if there is a possibility that unprotected sex put you at risk.

After using Emergency Contraception Pills your period may be different from usual; either lighter, heavier, early or later than normal. Some women experience nausea and vomiting from the pill, but usually taking the pill with food makes this less likely. Other mild side effects include: breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, dizziness and headaches. 

Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. The nurse-midwives at Women's Circle want to help you prevent pregnancy when it is not desired and will work with you in these "emergencies" and then help you plan to find a birth control method that you are happy with and can rely on.