Back up your birth control
In an emergency: If the condom breaks – you forget your pill – you had sex when you didn’t plan to – or want to... it's not too late. You still have time to prevent unwanted pregnancy with several options. If you aren't sure if you qualify, call the office, whether you are our patient or not, this is important.
- Emergency contraception, aka the morning after pill = "Plan B" or EC: is available over-the-counter at local drug store. You have to request it at pharmacy counter. But just because they have been tagged "the morning after pill" doesn't mean you should wait 24 hours. All types of emergency contraception work best the sooner after unprotected intercourse you take them.
- Currently the main types of emergency contraceptive pills available in the U.S.:
1. Plan B/My way/ Next Choice: (all progestin-only pill) approved for sale without prescription to women & men.
2. Ella (ulipristal): is the newer EC on the U.S. market, and requires a prescription. (Call me, even on the weekends.)
3. Copper IUD: less commonly favored as it requires an appointment and procedure within 5 d.
Emergency contraception: plan b or ella: both very safe to use after unprotected intercourse (condom breaks, gets left inside, wasn’t used at all, or date rape.) Plan b is now over the counter for women over 17. Ella requires a prescription. Both are effective in the first 24 hrs, ella is 90% effective up to 5 days later! This is not an abortion pill, it will not interrupt a pregnancy, it is safe for everyone.
Plan B: The first type of emergency contraceptive pill contains a hormone called progestin. Progestin-only pills can reduce your risk of getting pregnant by 88%. You are also less likely to have side effects if you use these pills for emergency contraception, as compared with combined pills. Sooner is better!
Ella: The second type of emergency contraceptive pill contains ulipristal acetate, and is available by prescription only in the United States (sold as ella) and Europe (sold as ellaOne). It has been found to be highly effective (90%+) and well-tolerated. It can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex, and is believed to be more effective than levonorgestrel ECPs. Ella works by preventing progestin from binding to progesterone receptors so it works differently than Plan B and Next Choice, and is more effective in obese and overweight women. Call me if you need this called in.
Uncomfortable buying EC? Send your boyfriend or good friend.
- EC: the morning-after pill, is very safe for everyone
- EC: is NOT an abortion pill, will not hurt an established pregnancy.
- EC: can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex (works better sooner, though.)
- EC: is most effective if taken within 24 hours (90%), at 72 hrs (70%) and by 5 days (50%), it’s still worth a try. (Better than keeping your fingers crossed all month.)
Effectiveness? Another way to say this: About 7 out of every 8 women who would have gotten pregnant will not become pregnant if they use EC within 24 hours.
Unsure? If you're not sure if you should take it, condom broke, got left inside, etc..., call the office and we'll help you to decide:
Cost: It's not free, unfortunately: Plan B is about $45, Ella is about $65, an abortion cost: $200-2000+, and raising a child to age 18 costs about $250,000. Ppleace of mind = priceless.
Common Myth: Only works twice: When I go to the local high schools to discuss birth control among other things, I often get asked this excellent question: "is it true that emergency contraception only works twice, and then you cannot use it again?" No! You could theoretically have sex once ot twice a month and use EC as your "post-coital contraception" after each episode.
Why not Plan A? A very astute high schooler from Horace Greeley responded, "if it's so good, why isn't Plan B, "Plan A"?
- cost: regular daily birth control pills or the monthly nuvaring cost less than $20-30/month.
- efficacy: most methods are 92-98% effective, at best EC is 90%
- irregular bleeding: many young women will experience abnormal light bleeding episodes following EC.
What It Is Not
Emergency contraception is often mistakenly confused with the early abortion pill, RU486 (also referred to as M&M, Mifeprex, mifepristone or medical abortion.) These two medications serve two different purposes and work completely differently from one another. Ella is not an abortion pill. It is not effective if taken after a woman is already pregnant. According to the FDA, Ella is not for use to end an existing pregnancy.
When do I start taking my regular birth control pills/ring/patch after EC?
Start a regular method of contraception immediately after EC, since EC does not protect against pregnancy beyond the day it is used. Don't deviate from the directions for use of your usual contraceptive.
Lastly, don't forget the condoms. :)