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Should I Consider Emergency Contraception?

If you had unprotected sex or if your birth control method failed, you may be considering emergency contraception. Taking this backup form of birth control within 72 to 120 hours after having sex can help reduce the risk of pregnancy by 94 percent. However, emergency contraception should not be considered as your only form of regular birth control.

What Is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception (EC) is a backup birth control method used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or when birth control methods fail. EC prevents a pregnancy from occurring; it will not work if you are already pregnant. The sooner you take EC, the more effective it is at preventing pregnancy.
Emergency contraception is sometimes called "the morning-after pill." However, this term is misleading. EC does not need to be taken the morning after sex, nor does it have to be in pill form. In fact, there are two basic forms of emergency contraception: pills and the copper intrauterine device (IUD) (see What Are My Options? for more information).
As its name suggests, EC should only be used when emergency birth control is needed. It should not be use to regularly prevent pregnancy. Other birth control methods are more effective at preventing pregnancy on a regular basis.
(See Choosing a Birth Control Method for more information about how to choose a regular birth control method for you.)
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Emergency Contraception Information

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