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What Are Emergency Birth Control Methods?

Emergency birth control methods include oral over-the-counter (OTC) pills, oral prescription pills, and an intrauterine device.

OTC Emergency Contraception

Oral emergency birth control, referred to as “the morning-after pill,” gives women the power of choice. All oral options are thought to be effective up to three days after unprotected sex.

Some oral emergency contraception is branded and sold in stores and pharmacies. Brands currently available OTC include:

All emergency OTC birth control pills contain the progestin hormone levonorgestrel. They are effective for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. Most brands deliver progestin as a single 1.5 mg dose of levonorgestrel. Next Choice is the only brand that breaks delivery into two pills — one 0.75 mg dose up to 72 hours after unprotected sex and the other 0.75 mg 12 hours later.

Prescription Emergency Contraception

Ulipristal, the generic version of Ella, is a prescription progesterone antagonist or agonist. When taken before ovulation, the medication prevents ovulation. When taken after ovulation, ulipristal thins the endometrial lining, inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg, according to the medical journal American Family Medicine.

Physical Emergency Contraception

Copper IUD — Your healthcare provider inserts a copper IUD within five days of having unprotected sex. This method is more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and, unlike some oral contraceptives, your weight does not lower efficacy.

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