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Health Information For Teens
Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Often called the morning-after pill, emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are pills that can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex. Some types of emergency contraception work best when taken within 72 hours (3 days) after intercourse.
The IUD can sometimes be used as a form of emergency contraception.
Emergency contraceptive pills work by delaying
(the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). If fertilization and implantation have already happened, ECPs will not interrupt the pregnancy.
About 1 or 2 in every 100 women who use ECPs will become pregnant despite taking the pills within 72 hours after having unprotected sex.
The “morning-after” name is somewhat misleading: You don’t have to wait until the next morning to take ECPs. Emergency contraception is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
Emergency contraception will not prevent pregnancy if unprotected sex happens after taking the ECPs.
Emergency contraception does not prevent all pregnancies. So a girl should see a doctor if she doesn’t get her next expected period after taking ECPs.
No. Emergency contraception does not protect against STDs. Couples having sex must always use condoms to protect against STDs even when using another birth control method.
ECPs can cause some minor side effects for a few days, including:
These usually are minor, and most improve within 1 to 2 days. A girl’s menstrual period may be temporarily irregular after she takes ECPs.
Emergency contraception is an option for a couple if:
ECPs are also available to young women who are forced to have unprotected sex.
Emergency contraception is not recommended:
Some types of emergency contraceptive pills are available over the counter at drugstores and pharmacies for anyone of any age without a prescription.
One type of emergency contraception (which works well up to 5 days after unprotected sex) is only available by prescription.
An IUD used for emergency contraception needs to be placed by a doctor or
. This can be done at a doctor’s office or a health clinic, like Planned Parenthood.
Depending on the type of pills prescribed, ECPs cost between $15–$70. Many health insurance plans cover the cost of emergency contraception and family planning clinics (such as Planned Parenthood) charge much less.
Someone who uses emergency contraception should call the doctor if she:
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to learn what birth control pills are, how well they work, and more.
Some birth control methods work better than others. This chart compares how well different birth control methods work.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article about the cervical cap to find out if it’s right for you and how well it works.
Find out what the experts have to say.
You’ve probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Learn more about the IUD and to find out how well it works for teens.
Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit — and why most girls don’t get internal exams.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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