The Emergency Contraception Pill (ECP) is a method of contraception taken after vaginal intercourse, often referred to as “the morning after pill,” or under the brand names Plan B®, Plan B One-Step®, and Next Choice®. ECPs are intended to prevent pregnancy by temporarily blocking eggs from being produced, stopping fertilization or keeping a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in the uterus. The medication, containing either estrogen and progesterone or progesterone-only, should be taken as soon as possible within three days (72 hours) of unprotected intercourse. ECP is not the abortion pill, also known as RU-486.
This form of contraception is meant for emergency situations and is not intended to be the sole form of birth control. All barrier, IUD, and hormonal methods are more effective for regular contraception than relying on a contraceptive method after unprotected intercourse.
Advantages of EC:
- Widely available in hospitals and over-the-counter in most pharmacies, and can be purchased in advance to have on hand for emergencies.
- A safe back-up method when you believe your primary method of contraception has failed.
- An option for women who are victims of rape or incest.
Disadvantages of EC:
- Not as effective as other forms of birth control, and is less effective the longer you wait to take it after having sex.
- Can be expensive, ranging from $30 to over $60
- If you are under the age of18, you will need a prescription to purchase Plan B®. For Plan B One-Step® and Next Choice®, you will need a prescription if you are under the age of 17.
- ECPs will not protect against STIs.