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Emergency Contraception

Any time you have intercourse without protection, it is possible to prevent pregnancy by taking a high-dose birth control pills (called emergency contraceptive pills or morning-after treatment) shortly afterwards. If you have had unprotected sexual intercourse, you may want to consider emergency contraception.

Emergency contraception should be taken within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. In Washington State, it is available at many doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies. You can call the emergency contraception hotline (nationwide) at: 1-888-NOT-2-LATE for the location nearest you.

When is sex considered unprotected?
• No contraception is used.
• Withdrawal: He “pulls-out” before he ejaculates at any point in your cycle.
• Condoms: It rips or tears or falls off at some point during sex.
• Diaphragm or cervical cap: It becomes dislodged or is taken out too soon after sex.
• Birth control pills: You are in the first week of a new brand of pills, you skip two or

more days of pills, or you are on antibiotics and do not use a back-up birth control method.
• Depo Provera: You are over 7 days past due for your next shot.

There are different types of emergency contraception. Each is used slightly differently. For maximum effectiveness, emergency contraception should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

Pills Taken by Mouth:
These options are usually recommended to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. For maximum effectiveness, they should be started as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. Newer research indicates that emergency contraceptive pills may be effective up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse. Talk with your health care provider about this.

Plan B™ (0.75 mg levonogesterol): This option does not contain any estrogen. It comes in a packet of two tablets. Take 2 tablets as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

Side Effects: rarely, some women experience slight nausea.

Preven™ contains two tablets of a higher dose oral contraceptive (50 mcg of estrogen estrodiol & 0.25 mg levonorgestrel). One pill is taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. The second pill is taken 12 hours later.

Side Effects: Some women experience nausea from these pills. It is usually mild, and usually stops within a day or two after the treatment. The nausea is rarely severe enough to cause vomiting. If vomiting occurs within 2 hours after taking either dose, additional pills may need to be taken. (Over-the-counter anti-nausea medication may help reduce nausea/vomiting.)

Copper IUD: For those women who can use the IUD, the Paraguard™ IUD can be used as emergency contraception within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. For maximum effectiveness, it should be inserted as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

Side effects: See Intrauterine Device (IUD)

After Emergency Contraception:
• Women can expect their next menstrual period within two to four weeks.
• Another form of birth control should be started immediately. Morning-after treatment is meant for emergency contraception only.

• Taking emergency contraception in such a sequence disrupts the progression of a potential pregnancy. Exactly how this happens is not fully known.

If you would like emergency contraception, please call our clinic to make an appointment Monday through Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm.