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Emergency Contraception

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.




FAQ: Access to Emergency Contraception in U.S. Jails and Prisons
Pharmacy EC Access Overview (April 2016)
Pharmacy EC Access Overview (April 2016)
en español
FAQ on EC, Age Restrictions & the Expiration of Plan B-One Step®’s Exclusivity
Emergency Contraception: Myths vs. Facts
Important Milestones in the History of FDA Approved Emergency Contraceptive Pills
Press Release: Amazon Heeds Demands of Reproductive Health Advocates to Reinstate Sales of Lower Cost Emergency Contraceptive AfterPill
Unfinished Business on Emergency Contraception
An Action Agenda for Comprehensive Access
Healthcare in Our Hands
The place to celebrate and explore the new status of emergency contraception.
FAQ: The Impact of Weight on Efficacy of Emergency Contraception
There are many different factors that women consider when seeking emergency contraception, including affordability and availability. Now, emerging data indicates that consumers should also take body weight into account when selecting a back-up method of birth control.
Where Should EC Be?: FDA-Approved Emergency Contraception Products as of August 1, 2013
Under current law, the products listed should be made available in the following ways.
PRESS RELEASE: DOJ Appeals Court Decision to Broaden Access to Emergency Contraception
Politics Trumps Science and Women's Health Suffers
Medical Professionals Support Court Case Ruling Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception
A Letter to Secretary Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Advocates Support Court Case Decision Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception
A Letter to Secretary Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
PRESS RELEASE: CDC Report Shows Critical Role of Emergency Contraception
Advocates Press HHS to Remove Unnecessary Restrictions

FDA Approved Emergency Contraceptive Products Currently on U.S. Market
Chart compares FDA approved EC products currently available on the market.

Comments to HHS on Safety of Emergency Contraception Pills
The Facts on Emergency Contraception
The Emergency Contraception Website: Not-2-Late.com – The Emergency Contraception Website is designed to provide accurate information about emergency contraception derived from the medical literature.
Back Up Your Birth Control Campaign Back Up Your Birth Control is a nationwide activist campaign to help make emergency contraception (EC) more effective by making sure women know about it – and can get it in time.
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