If you had sex and aren't sure if your main form of birth control was effective, this flowchart created by our medical team can help you understand if you should take emergency contraception and, if so, which kind of EC will be safe and effective in your specific situation.
Prescription-only Ella can be taken up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex, but the sooner you take it the better. It may be more effective than Plan B for women who weigh 165+ pounds. Note: If you take birth control pills the medication in Ella might make your birth control pills ineffective, so you should use a back-up (like condoms) if you have sex within 7 days of restarting birth control pills. If you are breastfeeding, the CDC recommends “pumping and dumping” for 24 hours after taking Ella, though there may be trace amounts of Ella in breastmilk for up to 5 days.
Plan B Generic (the generic version of Plan B) does not require a prescription and is available for $14.99 with free, discreet shipping. Plan B Generic may work when taken within 72 hours (three days) of unprotected sex, and is more effective at preventing pregnancy the sooner you take it. Plan B Generic is also safe to use while breastfeeding.
We make it easy for you to get your medication quickly, discreetly, affordably, and without judgement. By removing the pain points around access to emergency contraception, we've got you covered when it really counts.
Emergency contraceptives, like Plan B and Ella, work by blocking your ovaries from ovulating. If you do not release an egg during ovulation, you cannot get pregnant. Emergency contraception is not an abortion pill and will not work if you are already pregnant.
Plan B Generic is currently FDA approved for use up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex. Ella is FDA approved for use up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex.
Most research shows that overall, Ella is more effective than Plan B Generic for most women. Ella is equally effective throughout the 5 days after unprotected sex, but Plan B Generic is less effective with time (ex. more effective at 24 hours than after 48 hours).
Generic Plan B is effective for up to 3 days and more effective the sooner that you take it, so the longer you wait, the less likely it is to work. Ella has been shown to work for up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but should still be taken a soon as possible."
Yes. When we call in a prescription for emergency contraception to a pharmacy it is usually processed the same day that we order it. Some pharmacies do not reliably stock Ella, so if you are requesting this pill, we recommend that you call your pharmacy to make sure they have it available.
If you did not have unprotected sex and just want to have emergency contraceptives on hand, just in case, we can deliver these directly to you.
Emergency contraceptives are about 58-94% effective at preventing pregnancy. The range is so large because when taken at the right time, emergency contraception is very effective. However, some women are unable to access the medication until it’s almost too late.
Ella is slightly more effective than Plan B Generic. Plan B Generic is more effective the faster you are able to take it (for example, it’s more effective if taken 3 hours after unprotected sex rather than 48+ hours after).
Emergency contraceptive should not be used as regular birth control. Though there are no known health risks, regularly taking emergency contraceptives can result in increased side effects (like irregular bleeding).
If you find that you need emergency contraception more than 2 or 3 times per year, we recommend that you consider starting regular birth control which is much more effective (up to 99% effective when used as directed) compared to emergency contraception (ranges from 58%-94% effective).
Most women will not have any side effects with emergency contraception. Sometimes, emergency contraception can cause spotting or irregular bleeding about one week before or after your regularly scheduled period. Other possible side effects are nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, breast soreness, or cramping for 1 to 2 days after taking emergency contraception. If you throw up within 2 hours of taking emergency contraception, then you may have lost the pill and you should consider taking another dose. Please contact us if you throw up your emergency contraception within 2 hours of taking it.
Typically, you will not need any follow-up care. If your period is more than one week late after taking emergency contraception, you should take a pregnancy test. Remember, common pregnancy tests (using urine samples) are not accurate in the first 10 days of pregnancy, which is why we recommend waiting until you are at least a week late.
If you are breastfeeding 100% of the time and your period has not yet returned, then you may not need emergency contraception.
Plan B Generic (the generic version of Plan B) can be used safely during breastfeeding with no changes to your breastfeeding schedule. Ella can also be used safely during breastfeeding. The CDC recommends that women delay breastfeeding for 24 hours after taking Ella as some of this medication is excreted in the breastmilk. The strongest concentration of Ella in the breastmilk occurs for 1 to 3 hours after taking it, so some providers recommend pumping and dumping only once. There are no known complications for babies who do breastfeed right after the mother has taken emergency contraception.
We are doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and physician assistants who are passionate about providing patient care. The Nurx medical team believes that everyone deserves access to personalized, non-judgmental healthcare, and that open and honest communication is key. Learn more about our medical team.
Dr. Betty AckerOB-GYN
We know that no one has time to wait in line at the pharmacy. We know that seeing a doctor often isn't easy — on your schedule, wallet, or peace of mind.
Our service makes it easy for anyone, regardless of circumstance, to get medication quickly, discreetly, and affordably. So we can all stay safe and in control of our own health, always.