Emergency contraception is a method to prevent pregnancy in women who have had unprotected sex, or for whom a barrier method has failed (slipped condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap, or broken condom).
Morning-after pill; Postcoital contraception; Birth control - emergency; Plan B
Emergency contraception may be used following many different situations, including:
- After intercourse in which no birth control method is used
- Sexual assault or rape
- When a condom breaks or a diaphragm slips out of place
- When a woman forgets to take birth control pills
Emergency contraception medicine is not the same as the "abortion pill." A woman who knows she is pregnant takes the abortion pill with the intent to end an early pregnancy (usually 4 to 7 weeks after conception). Emergency contraception pills are taken after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy from occurring.
TYPE OF EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION
Several types of emergency contraception drugs are available.
Two emergency contraceptive pills have been approved:
- Plan B One-Step is a single tablet that contains 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel.
- Next Choice is taken as two doses, which each contain 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel. Both pills can be taken at the same time or as two separate doses 12 hours apart.
Review Date: 03/30/2010
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.