Sign Up for Updates
Research Center
Visit the Publications Shop
Facts about Emergency Contraception Print

Leader's Resource

Click here for the Lesson Plan.
Click here for the Survey.

  1. There are several types of emergency contraception available.
  2. A: True. Plan B® (and Plan B One-Step®) is the only brand name product of emergency contraceptive pills. However it is also possible to use different doses of some regular brands of oral contraceptives. Another method of emergency contraception is to have a doctor insert a special type of intrauterine device, the Copper T 380-A IUD. The IUD is seldom used for teens.

  3. Emergency contraception is a type of birth control that must be used before a person has sex.
  4. A: False. Emergency contraceptive is used after a person has unprotected sexual intercourse.

  5. Emergency contraceptive pills can reduce a woman's risk of pregnancy by 75 percent when taken within 120 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse.
  6. A: True. Women should use emergency contraception within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sexual intercourse. And, the sooner the better—efficacy rises to 85% when taken within 72 hours (three days).

  7. Emergency contraception can be used in a number of circumstances.
  8. A: True. It may be used if a couple has had unprotected sexual intercourse. It also works if a couple experiences incorrect contraceptive use or method failure—for example, if a condom breaks, or if a woman misses two or more regular oral contraceptive pills or her contraceptive injection and has had sex. Women can also use emergency contraception in the event of rape or sexual assault.

  9. Emergency contraception doesn't cause any side effects.
  10. A: False. Some women taking emergency contraception may feel nauseous, dizzy, or tired. Some women vomit and have a headache or sore breasts. These side effects are temporary and should last less than a day or two. There are no medical risks in taking emergency contraception.

  11. Emergency contraception may be harmful to teenage women.
  12. A: False. Emergency contraceptive pills are a safe and effective option for teenage women. In fact, research shows that emergency contraceptive pills are safer than aspirin. Furthermore, they do not cause birth defects or abortion if a woman is already pregnant when she takes them.

  13. Emergency contraceptive pills protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
  14. A: False. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy, not STIs. Using condoms every time a person has intercourse is the best way to prevent STIs.

  15. Emergency contraceptive pills can cause abortion.
  16. A: False. Emergency contraceptive pills work by preventing pregnancy, not by causing abortion.

  17. A teenager has the legal right to obtain emergency contraception without her parent's permission.
  18. A: True. Teens in every state have the right to obtain emergency contraception without parental consent or notification. Most Planned Parenthood and health department clinics offer confidential services to teens. Nevertheless, some private physicians' offices and health clinics require parental consent.

  19. ECs can only be obtained from a doctor.
  20. A: False. Anyone age 17 or over can access EC (Plan B® One-Step) without a prescription at pharmacies. If a someone is under age 17, there are numerous ways to obtain a prescription.

    Call 1-800-230-PLAN to find the nearest Planned Parenthood health center. To find a nearby clinic, visit or to get a prescription online visit

  21. It is possible to have a prescription for emergency contraception on hand before a person needs it.
  22. A: True. Because emergency contraception should be taken within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected intercourse, medical experts encourage women to obtain and fill a prescription before the need for EC arises It is important that women check the expiration date before using the pills to make sure the expiration date has not passed.

a youth-driven communityworking for change
Apoyo para Jóvenes GLBTQ
for Spanish-speaking GLBTQ youth
by and for young women of color
by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth
a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion
2000 M Street NW, Suite 750  |  Washington, DC 20036  |  P: 202.419.3420  |  F: 202.419.1448
COPYRIGHT © 2008 Advocates for Youth. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  |  Contact Us   |  Donate   |  Terms of Use   |  Search