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Emergency Contraception

Brand Names: Plan B and Next Choice

What is Emergency Contraception?

  • Sometimes called the "Morning After Pill," emergency contraception is used as pregnancy prevention after unprotected sex or suspected contraceptive failure.
  • It contains levonorgestrel, which is a synthetic hormone (progestin) commonly used in birth control pills.
  • It is emergency birth control that PREVENTS pregnancy. It is NOT an abortion pill that terminates pregnancy.

How does it work?

Stops ovulation: It temporarily stops ovaries from releasing an egg

Stops fertilization: It makes the meeting of an egg and sperm less likely

Some people may have concerns about the effects of emergency contraception on a fertilized egg. Most recent studies show little, if any, effect. If this is a concern, please come and discuss it with one of the providers at the student health center.

When are you at risk for pregnancy?

If your sex is female-at-birth and you have….

  • had vaginal sex and no prior preventive or precautionary measures with a partner who is male-at-birth;
  • Had a condom break, slip or come off;
  • Started a new pack of oral contraception pills late or missed pills; if your non-hormone week on the pill, patch, or ring is longer than 7 days;
  • Been forced to have vaginal sex without contraception;
  • Had vaginal sex using the withdrawal method as the only contraception;
  • Unintentionally let outercourse lead to vaginal intercourse;
  • Late getting your birth control shot

What We Recommend:

Have Plan B or Next Choice on hand if…

  • you and your partner are relying on only condoms for birth control. Emergency contraception can come in handy in case of condom failure.
  • you want to back up your regular hormonal birth control if you have not used it correctly. 50% of all unintended pregnancies occur because of a contraceptive failure, usually user error. If you use your hormonal contraceptives (pill, patch, ring) inconsistently, emergency contraception can significantly reduce your risk of pregnancy.

Studies show you are more likely to take a form of emergency contraception if you have it on hand instead of having to go somewhere to get it.


  • ECP is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex but may be taken up to 120 hours or 5 days later.
  • If taken right away, it reduces risk by 95% if taken within 24 hours.
  • Reduces risk of pregnancy by 89% if taken within 72 hours.
  • Most women's menstrual cycle will not be affected- 87% get next period within one week of when expected.
    • If period is more than one week late go to student health center for a pregnancy test.
  • Plan B and Next Choice are for emergency use, although there is nothing wrong with using these multiple times. It is not as effective as using regular birth control correctly.
  • You should not take emergency contraception if you are already pregnant; although it will not terminate an existing pregnancy (Numerous studies show that it does not have any effect on a fetus.)

Where can I get it?

Here are three options for students:

  • One option for students is to obtain emergency contraception from the Health Services at the Wellness Center, many times at a reduced cost. The Wellness Center is open Monday through Friday 8-4pm (closed 12-1pm) while school is in session during the regular academic year.
  • Most drug stores in Maine carry over-the-counter emergency contraception. The cost varies, but ranges from $40-$60 dollars and cannot be billed to health insurance when it is not a prescription.
  • For students who would like the cost to be covered by their health insurance, they can make an appointment with the Centers provider to discuss the option of a prescription for emergency contraception (same one as the over-the-counter medication) that can be covered by health insurance.


All services at the Wellness Center - Health & Counseling Services - are confidential.  We will not share any information about your healthcare with anyone without your permission. 


Information about Emergency Contraception can be found at Planned Parenthood