Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception (EC) includes copper IUDs and a few kinds of morning-after pills.

A copper IUD works to prevent pregnancy because the copper prevents sperm from swimming well enough to meet an egg that may be present. Copper IUDs inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex reduce the risk of pregnancy by more than 99%.

Morning-after pills prevent your body from releasing an egg. It is important to understand that morning-after pills are not abortion pills and won’t work if your body has already released an egg. They work to prevent a pregnancy from occurring but will not cause an abortion if you are already pregnant.

One type of morning-after pill is available at the pharmacy without a prescription. Another type must be prescribed by a doctor or nurse but is more effective, especially if it has been a few days since you had unprotected sex. Both types work better if you take them as soon as possible after unprotected sex, but can be taken up to 5 days after. If you are mainly using condoms or a less effective birth control method, having the morning-after pill at home will help you use them as soon as you can if a condom breaks or you forget to use one.