Key Facts About Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception (EC) is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after sex.

Consider using Emergency Contraception if:

  • You didn’t use a contraceptive during sex, or
  • You think your contraceptive didn’t work.

What are Emergency Contraceptive pills?

Emergency Contraceptive pills contain the same medication as regular birth control pills, and help to prevent pregnancy. There are two basic types of Emergency Contraceptive pills:

  • Plan B progestin-only pills
  • High doses of regular oral contraceptive pills.

Don’t wait! Take EC as soon as possible.

  • It is best to take EC within three days of unprotected sex.
  • The sooner you take EC the more effective it is.
  • For more information talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

EC is safe and effective.

  • Progestin-only pills reduce the risk of pregnancy by 89 percent.*
  • Combined estrogen/progestin pills reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 percent.*
  • For regular, long-term use, other contraceptive methods are more effective than EC.
  • Emergency Contraceptive pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

* Pregnancy risk reduction based on one-time use.

EC won’t cause an abortion.

  • Emergency Contraceptive pills are NOT the same as RU-486 (the abortion pill).
  • Emergency Contraceptive pills are not effective after pregnancy has occurred and cannot interrupt it.

EC won’t harm a developing fetus.

  • If Emergency Contraceptive pills are taken mistakenly during pregnancy, they will not harm the developing fetus.
  • Using Emergency Contraceptive pills will not affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant in the future.

Women can keep pills at home in case of an emergency.

  • Many women find it convenient to have Emergency Contraceptive pills on hand in case of an emergency.
  • Medical providers or your pharmacist can provide Emergency Contraceptive pills before they are needed.

Medical follow-up after taking Emergency Contraceptive pills

  • If you don’t get a normal period within three weeks, take a pregnancy test.
  • It is important to visit your doctor or clinic if you need a regular birth control method or information about preventing sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS.

In California all women and men with eligible incomes may receive free family planning services through the Family PACT program.

If you don’t have a doctor or clinic, call 1-800-942-1054 to find a Family PACT provider near you.