Emergency Contraception (EC)

Emergency contraception is birth control that prevents pregnancy after sex, which is why it is sometimes called “the morning-after pill,” “the day-after pill,” or “morning-after contraception.” You can use emergency contraception right away—or up to five days after sex—if you think your birth control failed, you didn’t use contraception, or you were forced to have sex.

EC can be 75-89% effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, but it can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after. The success rate for preventing pregnancy drops significantly with each passing day. EC works by preventing the egg from implanting in the wall of the uterus. EC will not interfere with an established pregnancy and does not protect against STDs or HIV.

Emergency contraception makes it much less likely you will get pregnant. But emergency contraceptives are not as effective as birth control that is used before or during sex, like the pill or condoms. So if you are sexually active or planning to be, don’t use emergency contraception as your only protection against pregnancy. Also, emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, like HIV (only condoms do).

For help choosing the best regular method for you, call the health center nearest you for an appointment today!


A part of Finger Lakes Community Health. Supported by Title X Grant Funding.