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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 you have…

  • had sex without prior arrangements or plans and used no precautionary measures
  • had a condom break, slip, or come off
  • started a new pack of 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 sex
  • had sex using the withdrawal method as the only contraception
  • unintentionally let outercourse lead to 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 are not sexually active that often and don't want to take daily contraception. Having emergency contraception AND condoms nearby for an unplanned sexual encounter would be a prudent choice.
  • 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?

One option for students is to obtain emergency contraception from the Wellness Learning Center. The Wellness Learning Center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9-4 and Wednesdays 9-7, while school is in session.

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 because it's not a prescription.

All services at the Wellness Learning Center are confidential. We will not share any information about your healthcare with anyone without your permission.

Information about Emergency Contraception compiled by UMFK.