Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Emergency contraception (morning after pills)

2009 September 03

Emergency contraceptive pills are also known as:

* Morning After Pill (MAP)
* Plan B (a brand of pills)
* EC or ECP

h3. It prevents pregnancy after intercourse

These hormone pills are an emergency method of birth control that females can use *after* unprotected intercourse or after a birth control failure such as a condom breaking or a missed pill, in order to prevent pregnancy.

It’s a good idea for both males and females to *keep a dose on hand* for emergencies. Morning after pills are not suitable for regular birth control use because they are less effective than “other methods”:/birthcontrol/, and do not protect against “sexually transmitted infections”:/infections/.

h3. How to get emergency contraception

Anyone (both males and females) can get emergency contraception for immediate use or to keep on hand. You do not need a prescription. You can find it:

* right here at ISHS (four “locations”:/about/locations in Greater Victoria, BC)
* over the counter (just need to ask for it) at most drug stores
* at other sexual health clinics
* from your doctor
* from a walk-in clinic

The “Not-2-Late”:http://ec.princeton.edu/providers/ website can help you find emergency contraception, in the US and Canada.

h3. Plan B must be taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse (120 hours).

* The sooner you take emergency contraceptive pills, the more likely they will succcessfully prevent pregnancy.
* Emergency contraception is most effective if you take it within 72 hours.

h3. How does it work

Plan B contains the hormone progestin (levonorgestrel) and works in one of 3 ways:

* delaying or preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg
* altering the cervical mucus that acts as a barrier to sperm
and prevents the sperm and egg meeting (fertilization)
* changing the lining of the uterus to make it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant

h4. How much does it cost?

We charge $15 per box (single complete dose) + hst = $16.80 (prices subject to change) but pharmacies generally charge more.

There are currently two types of emergency contraceptive pills available in Canada:

* Plan B, a progestin-only method
* Yuzpe (Ovral) method, containing both estrogen and progestin

Plan B is the “new and improved” method. It is slightly more effective, and is much less likely to cause nausea and is the *ONLY* type available at ISHS!

h3. Emergency contraception is very safe

There may some minor side effects such as fatigue, nausea, headache, menstrual changes (your period may come earlier or later than expected), etc.

There is no evidence that Plan B would harm a developing fetus should it be accidentally taken during early pregnancy.