Student Health and Wellness Services

Emergency Contraceptives

What if you need birth control AFTER sex? 

Use Emergency Contraceptve Pills (EC) if:

  • You didn’t use any birth control method.
  • Withdrawal (the “pull-out” method) failed.
  • The condom broke or slipped off.
  • You forgot to take your birth control pills more than two days in a row.
  • You were two or more days late in starting a new vaginal ring or patch cycle.
  • Your diaphragm, female condom or cervical cap slipped during sex.
  • You were late in getting your Depo shot.
  • You were forced to have unprotected sex. 

What are Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

Emergency Contraceptive (EC) pills are commonly referred to as ‘the morning after pill’. It is a single pill used for pregnancy prevention after vaginal intercourse has occurred, and you have either not used a birth control method or your method has failed.

Two types of EC pills are available at Student Health Services (SHS): Plan B (levonorgestrel) and ella (ulipristal acetate).  Regardless of your choice of EC, the pill must be taken as soon as possible and within 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected vaginal intercourse to have work correctly.

Which Pill is Right for Me?


Plan B (levonorgestrel) is a progestin hormone which works by preventing or delaying ovulation and preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg. It consists of one tablet. The sooner you take it, the better it works.


If you take Plan B within 24 hours after sex, it reduces your risk of pregnancy by up to 95%. Overall, it is 89% effective, meaning it prevents about 7 to 8 pregnancies that normally would have occurred.

There is evidence to suggest that Plan B may be less effective in women who have a bigger body size (Body Mass Index of 26 or more). If you have a bigger body size, you may want to consider the newer pill ella (see below).

Plan B is available without a prescription through the Student Health pharmacy as well as outside pharmacies. Plan B is most effective when taken as soon as possible, and no later than 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected vaginal intercourse.  Currently, Plan B is sold for $22.00 at the SHS pharmacy.*

Risks and side effects

Plan B is generally well tolerated. The most common temporary side effects are nausea (23%), abdominal pain (18%), fatigue (17%), headache (17%), menstrual changes (13%) and vomiting (6%). The menstrual changes typically seen can be spotting, heavier bleeding or a delayed onset of the next menstrual cycle. Persistent bleeding and abdominal pain needs immediate medical attention.


The second EC pill available at SHS is a one–pill formulation called ella (ulipristal acetate). It contains a different type of drug class called an anti-progestin which works by preventing ovulation.


Ella works up to 5 days after unprotected sex and, unlike Plan B, doesn’t decrease in effectiveness during those 5 days. It is just as effective on day 1 as it is on day 5. Ella may provide better EC coverage in women who are of a bigger body size (BMI of 26 or more).

Consultation with a medical provider and a prescription is required to obtain ella. Currently, ella is $31.00 at SHS.*

Risks and side effects

Ella is generally well tolerated. Sometimes it can cause headache (18%), stomach pain (12%), nausea (12%), menstrual pain (9%), tiredness (6%) and dizziness (5%).

How Can I Get Emergency Contraception?

Plan B: Go to the SHS pharmacy and ask for Emergency Contraception or if it is after clinic hours, go to an outside pharmacy and purchase this. The website will help you find pharmacies that provide EC. They are generally near the condoms and / or feminine supplies in the family planning aisle. The other over the counter brands available are called Next Choice One Dose, Next Choice, My Way, After Pill and Levonorgestrel.

ella: Book an appointment with a medical provider at SHS. Be sure to inform the receptionist of the reason for your visit, so that you can be seen as soon as possible. Planned Parenthood clinics also provide this service. Online vendors KwikMed and PRJKT RUBY sell ella and can deliver via overnight shipping for $67.00.*

Not sure?: If you are not sure which one is right for you, book an appointment with a medical provider at Student Health Services or an outside medical provider such as Planned Parenthood.

(*All prices subject to change)

Other Important Stuff

  • Plan B and ella should not be taken if you are already pregnant because they will not work. If you think you may already be pregnant, make an appointment with a health care provider right away to find out if you can still use an emergency contraception pill.
  • Using a condom will help protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). EC does not prevent STIs.
  • Remember to still use a condom after you’ve taken ECPs. EC does not protect you from unintended pregnancy due to future episodes of vaginal intercourse.
  • Consider a regular form of birth control. If you decide to take Plan B, in most cases a new regular birth control method can be started the day after you take it. If you opt for Ella, you will need to wait for 5 days after taking it before starting any regular form of birth control.


Why not use EC all the time? 

  • not as effective as a regular method of contraception.

  • more costly than a regular form of birth control

  • greater chance of side effects 

Want to know more? 

  • How do I find out if I’m already pregnant?

  • How do I know when my fertile period is during my cycle?

  • I’d like to find out more about “Plan A” (a regular form of birth control). Where can I learn about my options?

If you’d like answers to any of these questions, or any other questions you may have, please go to the reception desk at Student Health Services and ask to see a Health Educator or a Health Care Clinician. You may also call 909-869-4000 to make an appointment.