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Emergency Contraception

Can you tell me more about emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception (EC) is a way of reducing the chance of pregnancy following an episode of unprotected (non-contracepted) intercourse. This can also include condom breakage or spillage.

There are several regimens that can be used. Recent studies suggest that EC can be used within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex. Preven is an EC regimen containing estrogen and progesterone, 2 pills taken twice–12 hours apart. Plan B contains progesterone only–1 pill taken twice, 12 hours apart. Either of these is effective, though Plan B causes less nausea. After using any EC prescription, you’ll need to check a pregnancy test if your period is more than a week late or if you have symptoms of pregnancy (nausea, breast tenderness, frequent urination).

At best, EC is only 70 percent effective–it does not replace standard contraception (pills, patches, rings, and Depo-Provera are all over 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when used properly). Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should have an EC prescription. More information is available here.

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