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What is Emergency Contraception?

Accidents happen. That’s why there’s emergency contraception — a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception can stop a pregnancy before it starts. That means it's not the abortion pill. The sooner you take it, the higher your chances are to prevent pregnancy.



The newest form of emergency contraception in the U.S. is a one-pill formula available by prescription only. Ella blocks the hormones your body needs to conceive. It's effective for five days after unprotected sex.

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Plan B

Plan B works like birth control pills, but at a much higher dose. It works up to five days after unprotected sex, but the sooner you take it, the better it'll work.

No Appointment Needed, Walk-Ins Welcome

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The IUD is the most effective emergency contraception there is. At Planned Parenthood, we'll insert it within five days of the unprotected sex and lower your chance of pregnancy by 99.9%.

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How Does Plan B Work?

Plan B is a levonorgestrel morning-after pill that can lower your chance of getting pregnant by 75-89% if you take it within 3 days after unprotected sex.

You can take Plan B up to 5 days after unprotected sex. But the longer you wait to take it, the less effective it is.

Emergency contraception will not affect long-term fertility. It also does not protect against STDs following unprotected sex.

Plan B can be less effective if you have a higher BMI. So that’s when Ella may be a better option for you!

Ella, another form of emergency contraception, is just as effective on the fifth day as it is on the first. However, you will need to see a Planned Parenthood clinician before you can purchase it.

Does the morning-after pill have side effects?

The morning-after pill is super safe, and Plan B side effects aren’t super common. There have been no reports of serious problems out of the millions of people who’ve taken it.

After you take the morning-after pill, it's totally normal for your next period to be different from what you’re used to. It may come earlier or later, and be heavier, lighter, or more spotty. Or it may be the same as it normally is.

You may get an upset stomach, feel lightheaded or dizzy, or have tender breasts for a short while when you take the morning-after pill. If you throw up within 3 hours of taking the pill, it won't work and you’ll need to take it again.

Where can I get Plan B or Ella?

You can purchase Plan B at a Planned Parenthood health center near you. No appointment is necessary. Buying Plan B at Planned Parenthood is more affordable than your local pharmacy. The cost is $40. 

Since the morning-after pill works better the sooner you take it, it’s a good idea to buy it BEFORE you need it.  You can keep it in your medicine cabinet and it will be there for you, just in case. That way you can take it as soon as possible if an accident happens, and you won’t have to worry about finding it at the store when you’re totally stressed out.

If you would like to purchase Ella, please make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center.

There are a lot of choices out there. That’s why Planned Parenthood is here to help find the option that’s best for you!