Emergency Contraception

Health Services is here to help. We provide two kinds of Emergency Contraception (EC) that are available at our Pharmacy for $25-$30. We provide the lowest cost in the area for emergency contraception.

What is emergency contraception (EC)?

EC is birth control used AFTER intercourse to prevent pregnancy. It can be provided through oral medication (pills) or insertion of an IUD (intrauterine device). Use of EC is a safe and effective way of reducing the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex (condom failure, missed oral contraceptive (OC), or failure to use a contraceptive method, etc.).

Formerly referred to as the “morning after pill” EC pills are intended as emergency contraception. If you have a need for ongoing contraception please discuss this with a clinician at Health Services.

EC is not the abortion pill (RU486). EC is not effective after pregnancy has occurred and cannot interrupt it.

How do emergency contraception pills work?

EC pills create a short strong burst of hormones which interfere with the normal hormone patterns of the menstrual cycle. They work by delaying the release of an egg from the ovary.  It is also possible that they, interfere with sperm swimming in cervical mucus, disturb the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation in the uterus, or interfere with the transportation of the egg or sperm through the fallopian tubes.

What types of emergency contraception are available at UNH Health Services Pharmacy?

There are two types of emergency contraception pills that are available through the HS Pharmacy. 

Non-presciption

PLAN B, Next Choice, One Step, and Levonorgestrel (generic)

  • Approved for use up to 5 days after unprotected sex
  • Most effective if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex
  • Decreasing effectiveness with time after unprotected sex 
  • Most effective for women with a BMI of less than 26
  • Low cost

Prescription

Ella

  • Approved for use up to 5 days after unprotected sex
  • Equally effective for all 5 days 
  • No loss of effectiveness up to at least a BMI of 30
  • Low cost
If you choose ella, you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire which will be reviewed by one of our clinicians.  After review, the clinician will determine which EC is appropriate for you or you may be asked to make an appointment if additional information is needed.  
 

Is there a risk I could become pregnant after using emergency contraception?

The risk of becoming pregnant with any single act of intercourse can be as high as 30%. Pregnancy rates are less than 4% after use of emergency contraception. With levonorgestrel (e.g. Plan B), if it turns out you are already pregnant, there is no effect on the pregnancy.  Ella’s effect on pregnancy has not been tested.  If there is any chance you might be pregnant, don’t take ella.  Using EC will not affect a woman's ability to become pregnant in the future.

Are there contraindications?

There are very few contraindications to using EC. These contraindications include existing pregnancy, undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, or allergy to the ingredients of the pills.

How is emergency contraception used?

One tablet of EC is taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex. Plan B is most effective if it is taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.  Ella’s effectiveness remains constant for all 5 days after unprotected sex. 

What are the common side effects of emergency contraception?

Common side effects that will subside within a few days include: 

  • Headache
  • Fluid retention
  • Breast tenderness
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Mild abdominal pain

 Menstrual changes may occur during the cycle in which EC is used. These include spotting and/or a period may be earlier or later than expected.

Health Services Can Help You 

Contact us if you experience any of the following after taking EC

  • Vomit within 2 hours of taking your dose of EC (this is very unlikely). This dose must be repeated. There is medication available to help prevent vomiting.
  • No menses within three weeks of taking EC. You should have a pregnancy test. 
  • Have a very unusual period.

Questions

You can make an appointment to see a Health Services clinical provider if you have any additional questions or concerns:

  •  (603) 862-1094 to talk with a pharmacist
  •  (603) 862-2856 to talk with a nurse
It may be helpful to have a dose of ECP on hand.  Your medical provider or pharmacist can provide ECP before it is needed. 
 

How to get support and help if sex was not consensual

 
UNH resources available:
If you ARE NOT a UNH community member, the following resources are available:
  • Domestic violence/relationship violence support (866) 644-3574
  • Sexual Assault Support (800) 277-5570
  • Find the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic by calling (800) 230-PLAN (7526) or the Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland, NH

Additional Resources