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Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) reduces your risk of pregnancy after having unprotected sex (sex without birth control or when birth control fails).

There are several forms of EC available, including insertion of an IUD, specific dosages of certain birth control pills, and medications such as Plan B One-Step.

The earlier EC is used, the more effective it is. EC won’t work if you're already pregnant and won't harm a fetus or cause an abortion.

More about EC:

The EC Website and Hotline:

Back Up Your Birth Control:

EC medications

Medications such as Plan B One-Step can prevent pregnancy by temporarily stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs or by affecting fertilization.

Plan B One-Step is the most commonly offered form of EC at UHS. To help prevent unintended pregnancy, take a single dose of Plan B One-Step within three days, or 72 hours, after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.

Use EC only in emergencies, including when you had sex without birth control and don't want to become pregnant; the condom broke; you missed two or more birth control pills; your diaphragm slipped; you missed your birth control shot; or you were raped.

EC should not be used repeatedly. It's less effective than ongoing, correct use of regular birth control methods and offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections.

If your period is more than one to two weeks late, talk to your provider about a pregnancy test.

Getting EC

Women 17 and over may obtain Plan B One-Step without a prescription; it's available with a prescription for women 16 and younger.

Plan B One-Step is available at Walk-in Care, as an anticipatory prescription from your provider, and from the UHS Pharmacy. Talk with your healthcare provider or a UHS pharmacist for more information about EC.

IUD insertion is available by appointment; call (413) 577-5101.

Side effects

While side effects of Plan B One-Step are rare, some women may experience nausea and vomiting, or spotting or changes to the flow, length and/or timing of their next period.

Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information.