All About EC

What is EC?
Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP or EC) are pills taken after you’ve had unprotected sex in order to prevent pregnancy. These pills are often higher doses of the hormones (estrogens and/or progestins) that are found in regular combined oral contraceptive pills (Birth Control or “the pill”). When they are taken after unprotected sexual intercourse they can prevent pregnancy from occurring.  Though Emergency Contraception is often called the “morning-after pill” it can be taken up to three days after unprotected sex.

How Does EC Work?
EC temporarily stops or delays a woman’s body from ovulating (releasing an egg), and it prevents an already released egg from being fertilized – but no matter when you take it, it does not cause a fertilized egg that has already implanted to abort. Both the progestin-only and the combination pills can stop or delay ovulation (the time in your cycle when your ovary releases an egg) or make it harder for the egg to be fertilized by the sperm.

It is important to note that EC is not a replacement for birth control.

When should EC be used?

EC can be used if:
-The condom broke or slipped off during intercourse.
-You forgot to take your birth control pills, insert your ring, or put on the patch.
-Your diaphragm, cap, or shield slipped out of place.
-You were forced to have unprotected vaginal intercourse.

For information on where to get EC, see our Find EC section.


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