The availability and use of emergency contraceptives (ECs) are vital for an individual’s health and well-being.  There are different types of  FDA-approved ECs that serve as an important back-up method to prevent a pregnancy when used after birth control failure, unprotected sexual intercourse or sexual assault.  Types of ECs are;

Levonorgestrel is a progestin-based pill that is sold under brand names such as;  Plan B, Plan B  One- Step, My Choice, My Way and others. It is effective if taken within 72 hours of intercourse and can be obtained without a prescription to all ages at pharmacies, drug stores, Indian Health Services (IHS) and military treatment facilities. 

Ulipristal Acetate is a pill sold under the brand name Ella and is effective up to five days after intercourse. A prescription from a doctor, nurse, family planning or health clinic is required to obtain Ella from a pharmacy or military treatment facility (if stocked at the facility). 

Plan B (and other brands) as well as Ella are often referred to as the morning-after pill.

Copper-releasing Intrauterine Device (IUD) is an effective method of emergency contraception when inserted into the uterus by a health care provider within 5 days after intercourse. ParaGuard (brand name) is the only copper-releasing IUD available in the US. Additionally, the copper-releasing IUD is a method of birth control.

EMAA Project Factsheet Medication Abortion Care vs. Emergency Contraception: What’s the Difference?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Classifications for Emergency Contraception, Reproductive Health, 1 February 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/mmwr/mec/appendixj.html.

Congressional Research Service. Defense Health Primer: Contraceptive Services, IN FOCUS, 19 February, 2019, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11109.

Ibis Reproductive Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health of Women in the U.S. Military, Issue brief 2: Insurance coverage of sexual and reproductive health care, February 2017, https://www.ibisreproductivehealth.org/publications/sexual-and-reproductive-health-women-us-military-issue-brief-2-insurance-coverage.

Indian Health Service. “Birth Control.” U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services, https://www.apainc.org/programs-2/disparities-to-reproductive-health/contraceptives/.

Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). “Emergency Contraception.” Health Policy, 6 September 2018, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/emergency-contraception/.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Emergency Contraception.” Reproductive Health, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/mmwr/spr/emergency.html.

Nelson, Anita, Massoudi, Natasha. “New developments in intrauterine device use: focus on the US.” Open Access Journal of Contraception, vol. 7, 2016, pp. 127-141. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683151/#.


Emergency Contraceptives, State Laws, Guttmacher Institute, as of January 1, 2023, available at: https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/emergency-contraception

Westhoff Carolyn, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “The Facts About Emergency Contraception.” CUIMC Update, 12 July 2022, https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/facts-about-emergency-contraception

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “Emergency Contraception.” Practice Bulletin, vol. No. 152, 2015 https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2015/09/emergency-contraception.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). “Emergency Contraception.” Health Policy, The Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 August 2022, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/emergency-contraception/.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “ACOG Committee Opinion: Access to Emergency Contraception.” July 2017, https://www.acog.org/-/media/project/acog/acogorg/clinical/files/committee-opinion/articles/2017/07/access-to-emergency-contraception.pdf. Accessed 2021.


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