Emergency contraception is a method that can help prevent unplanned pregnancies if used as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception can be used when no contraception was used, when contraception failed, or when contraception was used inappropriately.
Emergency contraception can prevent an unplanned pregnancy in the following situations:
- Missed birth control (pill, patch, ring, injection)
- Condom slipped, broke, leaked, or was used incorrectly
- Diaphragm or cervical cap was forgotten or dislodged
- No contraception was used
- Fertility window calculation error
- Non-consensual sexual intercourse (sexual assault)
There are 3 options for emergency contraception.
Please read below to see which option may be appropriate for you.
1. Plan B
Plan B is a safe form of emergency contraception that only contains progestin. It is used to prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours (3 days) after a single act of unprotected intercourse. There is some evidence that it may be used up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected intercourse, but it may not be as effective. It may not be effective for individuals who weigh more than 165 pounds. According to Health Canada, Plan B is not effective if you weigh over 176 pounds. Plan B is not intended as a method of birth control; it is for emergency use only.
Ella is a safe form of emergency contraception pill that contains the active ingredient ulipristal acetate. It works by blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone. Ella is used to prevent pregnancy up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected intercourse. It may be less effective for women who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30kg/m2 or weigh over 194 pounds. Ella is not intended as a method of birth control; it is for emergency use only.
3. Copper IUD
The IUD is a long lasting method of birth control that is inserted into the uterus (womb). It is a T-shaped plastic frame that is surrounded by a thin copper wire. At the bottom of the IUD there is a string. A copper IUD can be used by individuals not wanting to become pregnant up to 7 days after unprotected sex.
Comparing Emergency Contraception Options
|Type of Emergency Contraception||Plan B||Ella||Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)|
|What is it?||A progestin-only pill that can be taken up to 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex, and may have some effect up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.||A pill that contains ulipristal acetate. It can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.||A small T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider. It can be inserted up to 7 days after unprotected sex. The IUD can be used as a birth control method afterwards and can stay in place for 3-10 years.|
• 95% Effective if taken within 24 hours after sex
• 85% Effective if taken within 25-48 hours after sex
• 58% Effective if taken within 49-72 hours after sex
|• 95% Effective if taken within 120 hours (5 days) after sex||• 99% Effective if inserted within 7 days after sex|
|Weight Consideration||Effectiveness is decreased if an individual weighs over 165 pounds (75 kg). Plan B is not effective for individuals weighing more than 176 pounds (80kg)||Effectiveness is decreased in individuals who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30kg/m2 or weigh 194 pounds (88kg) or more||No weight considerations. Highly effective regardless of weight.|
|How to get it and Cost||
• Plan B is available without a prescription.
• It is sold at The Clinic at the Middlesex-London Health Unit for $12.00.
• It can also be bought over the counter at a Pharmacy for $30.00-40.00.
• Ella is available at The Clinic without prescription.
• It is sold at The Clinic at the Middlesex-London Health Unit for $25.00.
• It can also be bought with a prescription at a Pharmacy for about $40.00.
• A Copper IUD is only available for purchase with a prescription from a qualified health care provider. It must also be inserted by a qualified health care provider.
• It is sold at The Clinic at the Middlesex-London Health Unit with a prescription for $50.00 - 60.00. Copper IUDs can be inserted at The Clinic.
• It can also be bought with a prescription at a pharmacy for various prices depending on brand.
Last modified on: July 11, 2023