Emergency Contraception at a Glance
- Birth control you can use to prevent pregnancy up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex
- There are two kinds of emergency contraception: (1) morning-after pill and (2) Paragard IUD insertion *
- Safe and effective
- Available at health centers and drugstores
- Costs vary, and may be covered partially or in full by Medi-Cal, Family Pact or private insurance.
* A Paragard IUD can be used as emergency contraception if inserted by a health care provider within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected intercourse. It is 99.9% effective, even on day five, and can be left in as ongoing birth control for as long as you want, up to 12 years.
How Does Emergency Contraception Work?
Pregnancy doesn't happen right after sex. That's why it's possible to prevent pregnancy even after the fact. It can take up to six days for the sperm and egg to meet after having sex.
Emergency contraception pills work by keeping a woman's ovary from releasing an egg for longer than usual. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm.
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.
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Need More Information?
Learn more about emergency contraception FAQs.
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