Emergency Contraception

You May Have A Need For Emergency Contraception After Sex If…

You didn’t use any birth control.
You had sex when you didn’t expect to.
A condom broke or slipped off.
Your diaphragm slipped out of place.
You were forced to have sex.

How Does It Work?

  • Formerly called the “morning after pill,” this term is no longer applicable as it is recommended it be taken as soon after unprotected sex as possible.
  • Emergency contraception prevents the body from releasing an egg (ovulation) and causes the uterine lining to be unsuitable for implantation of an egg.
  • It is NOT an “abortion pill” and cannot cause an abortion is someone is already pregnant.
  • It also will not harm the woman, her pregnancy, or her child if she is pregnant.
  • It is not to be relied upon for routine contraception.
  • For most effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, it should be used within 120 hours (5 days) after vaginal sex.


  • There are different brands of emergency contraception available with the most common called Plan B One-Step and the generic Next Choice.
  • Because this is available over-the-counter without a prescription, health insurance cannot be used.
  • Even though no prescription is required, most stores require payment at the pharmacy counter rather than with a store cashier.
  • There is no age or gender requirement restricting people from purchasing emergency contraception.
  • Call ahead to be sure it is available in the pharmacy you are visiting.


  • It is more effective the sooner it is taken.
  • Emergency contraceptive pills are about 89% effective when started within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, and are slightly less effective on the 4th or 5th day.
  • Plan B may decrease in effectiveness in patients with a BMI of 26 or greater.
  • Further studies identify decreased effectiveness in patients weighing over 165 pounds and ineffectiveness in patients weighing 176 pounds or more, regardless of BMI.
  • However, the name brand Ella requires a prescription which can be obtained at the UHC Women’s Clinic without an appointment.
  • Ella is more effective than Plan B One-Step if needed 4-5 days after unprotected sex rather than immediately and is also a better choice for women with a BMI over 25.


  • It is a safe, simple, effective method of preventing pregnancy in case of an emergency.
  • It provides a contraceptive option for rape survivors.


  • Nausea, cramping, and bleeding may occur.
  • It does not protect against STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections).
  • It is not recommended as a regular form of birth control.
  • Also see “Effectiveness” for issues related to BMI and weight.

Proper Use

  • Read and follow the instructions on the package insert, and contact your clinician if you have any questions.
  • Call the Health Center (706-542-8691) if you experience severe headache, blurred vision, chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pain, or any other unusual symptoms.

Additional Support

  • In order to prevent contraceptive failures in the future, the Women’s Clinic is available for contraception counseling.
  • Women who are sexually active should receive annual pelvic exams and breast exams, as well as counseling regarding sexually transmitted infections, contraception, etc.
  • Please call the Women’s Clinic today at 706-542-8691 to schedule an appointment.
  • For general information about sexual health, please contact Katy Janousek, Sexual Health Coordinator, Health Promotion Department (706-542-8690 or kjanousek@uhs.uga.edu).

Please visit www.not-2-late.com for more information.

Sexual Health Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Contraception