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How Long Do I Have to Use Emergency Contraception?
The sooner you take EC, the more effective it is at preventing pregnancy. In general, you have 120 hours (five days) after having sex to use EC. The manufacturers of levonorgestrel EC (Plan B One-Step™, Next Choice®) recommend the pills be taken within 72 hours (three days). However, research suggests you have up to 120 hours after unprotected sex to take them.
If you have additional questions about emergency contraception or are considering it in your situation, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can help you choose the best option for you. If you believe you need emergency contraception, remember that some forms are available without a prescription to all women, regardless of age, in the United States.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health. Emergency Contraception Frequency Asked Questions. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov. Accessed March 24, 2011.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. FDA approves Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive for use without a prescription for all women of child-bearing potential (June 20, 2013). FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm358082.htm. Accessed July 8, 2013.
Langston A. Emergency Contraception: Update and Review. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 2010; 28(2): 95-102.
World Health Organization (WHO). Emergency Contraception Fact Sheet 244. October 2005.
Plan B One Step Web site. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/. Accessed March 24, 2011.
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