Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at my "Resources" page. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: FYsexeducationquestions, though check out my FAQ first!
Emergency Contraception works better the sooner you take it, so as soon as unprotected or risky sex happens go get emergency contraception. It can be used up to 5 days after sex though. “Risky Sex” would be something like if you forgot your pill, the condom broke, you miscalculated the days you were ovulating, the pull out method didn’t work, or you messed up with applying the patch or ring on time. It is available at any pharmacy for those 17 and older without a prescription but in some places those 17 and younger need a prescription to get it. Planned Parenthood and Free Health Clinics or School Health Clinics may have it at more of an availability. You may ask the doctor for a prescription for emergency contraception or samples beforehand which is the best way to do it so you can take it quickly.
There are two types of Emergency contraception, the morning after pill and the copper IUD. IUDs are more expensive but they are more effective and you can just use it as regular birth control once it is inserted. To get this form you’ll need to see a doctor.
The Morning After Pill has a few different brands, Plan B, Next Choice, Ella, and Levonorgestrel tablets. Plan B and Next Choice are made of progestrin. Ella is made of ulipristal acetate, and tends to be a little more effective. If you are considered medically obese, Plan B and Next Choice may have their effectiveness reduced. Instead use the copper IUD or Ella. Basically what these pills do is stop ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus to keep the sperm from moving. It’s best to use the Morning after pill every time you have unprotected or risky sex but it is not meant to be used as regular birth control. If you need to use it often you might want to look into getting on birth control or switching methods. The morning after pill is not 100% effective, so if you miss your period take a pregnancy test. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, spotting, dizziness, and headaches. If you use it frequently it can cause period irregularity. It is normal for your next period to be lighter or different when using the morning after pill, but you should take a pregnancy test if you miss your period or it’s lighter or shorter than usual just in case.
Each pill has a different set of directions, so be sure to follow it exactly. Usually though you either take it once or in two doses. Usually the second dose is taken 12 hours after the first. You can take anti-nausea medication an hour before taking the morning after pill. If you vomit within 30 minutes of taking it you’ll probably have to take it again, otherwise your body has absorbed enough for it to be effective.
Depending on your age and where you live you may need to get a prescription for the morning after pill. You can get it at any clinic like Planned Parenthood, or at any drug store. It can cost anywhere from $10 to $70, there is this internet coupon for $5 off Plan B.
If you have no access to IUDs or the Morning after pill you can use regular birth control as Emergency Contraception. How you use it depends on the brand and some brands can’t be used. This site has instructions for various brands. Of course with certain kinds of insurance you can only get so many pills at any given time so once you use them as Emergency Contraception you don’t have enough to protect you for the entire month. Use back up methods until you can get another pack. Use a back up method for a week after just in case.
It’s important that any time risky sex happens and you need to use EC to re-evaluate the pregnancy prevention method you are using. What can you be doing differently to up your chances of not getting pregnant? What methods are available to you? How do you use those methods effectively? Ask your doctor or do some research into methods of birth control. EC is NOT meant to be used regularly (unless you use the IUD) so it’s important to look at your options. EC does not protect against STIs.
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