Types of Emergency Contraception:
There are about 3.2 million unintended pregnancies each year in the United States. Just under half of these happen to women who are using regular methods of contraception. Despite the many highly effective birth control options women have to choose from, none is 100% perfect. Mistakes happen — a condom breaks, a woman misses a pill, or she has sex when she didn’t plan to or even want to.
Emergency contraception (EC) is a safe, effective back-up birth control method that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Despite the widely acknowledged safety, efficacy, and acceptability of EC, usage rates in the United States are low. A lack of information and other barriers such as cost contribute to a lack of use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 11% of sexually active women have ever used EC.
Since 1992, RHTP has been at the forefront of efforts to bring EC into the mainstream, from launching the first-ever EC advertising campaign to mobilizing support for the application to make an EC product available over-the-counter (OTC). Today, RHTP works towards ensuring that EC OTC products like Next Choice® and Plan B One-Step® are available to all women, regardless of age and that new, safe and effective emergency contraceptive products are brought onto the market. There have been two big victories in this area in recent years. In 2010, FDA approved a new emergency contraceptive product, ella®, which is now available by prescription to women of all ages. As of August 1, 2013, Plan B One-Step is available OTC to people of all ages. RHTP will continue working towards making more EC products affordable and available to all people without age restrictions.
Emergency contraception provides no protection from HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted infections. Emergency contraception, when used as directed, does not interrupt a pregnancy, and it will not work if a woman is already pregnant. Emergency contraceptive products can safely be used every time a woman has unprotected sex or experiences contraceptive failure. However, emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against future acts of unprotected sex and they are not as effective as other birth control methods. If you are sexually active and want to or need to keep from getting pregnant, you should talk to your health care provider about a more effective method that works for you.
If you need emergency contraception, please visit the Emergency Contraception website for a directory of providers.