What is EC?
Emergency contraception (EC) is a back-up birth control method, as opposed to a regular birth control method like condoms, hormonal contraception, IUD placement, etc.
- EC, sometimes also known as the "morning after pill,", is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy AFTER unprotected sex or the failure of other birth control methods.
- EC is a higher dosage of the same hormones found in many types of regular birth control pills.
- When used within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex or birth control failure, EC can significantly reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. EC is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or the failure of other birth control methods. So don't wait!
- EC is NOT the "abortion pill," MifeprexTM(mifepristone) or RU-486. EC will not terminate an existing pregnancy. EC will not work if a woman is already pregnant and EC will not cause birth defects if a woman takes it when she is already pregnant. EC will not affect a woman's chance of becoming pregnant in the future.
- For women and men who are 17 or older and have identification, EC is available over-the-counter at pharmacies under the brand names Plan B® One-Step and Next ChoiceTM. Young women under 17 still need a prescription from a doctor or other health care provider in order to buy EC at the pharmacy, except in a few states which have special pharmacy access legislation. Women who live in AK, CA, HI, MA, ME, NH, NM, VT and WA, can get EC directly from a local pharmacy regardless of their age.
For more on EC, check out the Fact Sheet on Emergency Contraception
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