What are ECPs?

Emergency Contraceptive Pills are birth control pills taken within 72 hours of an episode of unprotected intercourse to reduce the chance of pregnancy. Examples of unprotected intercourse include: no birth control method used, broken condom, other method failure or misuse, or sexual assault.

Why use Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs)?

Emergency Contraceptive Pills are a particular birth control pill prescribed at a different dosage than what women normally use for ongoing contraception. The College Health Center is using Plan B ECPs. Plan B is a progestin birth control pill containing Levonorgestrel in a special dosage designated for use as emergency contraception. We are using this formulation because it is associated with fewer side effects than the estrogen/progestin ECP, and it is more effective.

How do Plan B ECPs work?

Emergency Contraceptive Pills may prevent pregnancy in one or more of the following ways:

  • by preventing ovulation
  • by temporarily altering the uterine lining
  • by reducing the chance of fertilization in the fallopian tube

Emergency Contraceptive Pills are not Mifepristone (often referred to as RU-486, “the abortion pill”).

How effective are the Plan B ECPs?

If Plan B is taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex it has been shown to reduce the risk of pregnancy from one episode of intercourse by at least 88%. Emergency Contraceptive Pills are not recommended as an “ongoing” method of birth control, because consistent use of most other birth control methods is more effective in preventing pregnancy.

How to take Plan B ECP

It should be taken as soon as possible after an episode of unprotected intercourse, but no later than 72 hours. Take one Plan B tablet with food. The sooner you take it, the better Plan B One-Step will work.

Who should not take Plan B?

Plan B should not be taken if you are already pregnant or if you have an allergy to Plan B (Levonorgestrel). Do not use Plan B if you currently have unexplained vaginal bleeding.

What are some of the risks and side effects of Plan B ECPs?

Most women can safely take Plan B and serious side effects are rare. Side effects that may occur include nausea (23% of users), abdominal pain (18% of users), tiredness (17% of users), and headache (17% of users). Other side effects that can occur are dizziness and breast tenderness (10% of users) and vomiting or diarrhea (5-6% of users).

Menstrual bleeding is sometimes heavier and sometimes lighter than usual after taking Plan B. Most women will get their next period within one week of when it is expected.