Student Health and Wellness Services

Emergency Contraception (EC)

Emergency Contraception (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.

Use 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 method of EC is right for me?

Available by prescription at Student Health Services 

Effectiveness:

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%).

Generic Plan B is available for purchase at Student Health Services Pharmacy.
Plan B and Generics can also be purchased at most drug stores, pharmacies, and reproductive health clinics.

Effectiveness:

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.

If inserted within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected vaginal intercourse the Copper IUD is the most effective method of emergency contraception.

  • It’s long-term, reversible and highly effective.
  • Effectiveness at Preventing Pregnancy: 99.2%
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • Can cost $0 to $1300
  • Lasts up to 12 years, reversible
  • Advantages:
    • Nothing to put in place before intercourse
    • Does not change hormone levels
    • Can be used while breastfeeding
    • Can be used for an extended period of time (5 years and up)
    • The ability to become pregnant returns quickly once IUD is removed
  • Disadvantages:
    • Large initial cost (if not covered by insurance)
    • Can cause heavier and longer periods at first
  • Prescription-must be inserted and removed by a clinician

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 http://eclocator.not-2-late.com/ 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)