The Morning After Pill (Plan B, Ella)

Emergency contraception is used as a backup when other methods of birth control fail– for example, if a condom breaks or the woman misses more than two birth control pills – and the woman wants to avoid becoming pregnant. Emergency contraception can be used to help prevent pregnancy if taken soon after having sex.

How does the morning after pill work?

Plan B & ella®

Plan B and ella® are hormonal medications that can help prevent pregnancy. Both are recommended to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. The sooner it is taken, the more likely it will be effective.

  • Plan B (levonorgestrel) can be taken up to three days after unprotected sex.
  • ella® (ulipristal acetate) can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

ella® is more effective than Plan B, no matter when you take it. Being overweight or obese may impact the efficacy of the morning after pill.

Plan B uses levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone commonly found in standard birth control pills and acts as a more potent dose to discourage pregnancy.

The active ingredient in ella® is ulipristal acetate, which is a progesterone modulator.

Both options will not terminate a pregnancy if it has already occurred.

There is no age restriction for buying levonorgestrel (Plan B, Take Action, My Way, Option 2, Preventeza, My Choice, Aftera, and EContra) and you can purchase them without a prescription (over the counter).

Ulipristal acetate (ella®) does require a prescription.

The morning after pill should not replace routine methods of birth control and should only be used in emergencies.

Copper IUD as emergency contraception instead of the morning after pill

Finally, the copper IUD also works as a method of emergency contraception within five days of unprotected intercourse, or possibly later.

The Copper IUD is effective regardless of weight.

Ask your doctor

If you want to avoid pregnancy, ask your doctor or medical health provider to help you find an ongoing birth control method that will work for you.