The morning after pill is designed to prevent pregnancy in a woman who has unprotected intercourse.

How does emergency contraception (the morning after pill) work?

Pregnancy does not occur right after sex. That’s why it’s possible to prevent pregnancy even after you have unprotected intercourse. It can take up to six days for the sperm and egg to meet after having sex. Emergency contraception pills work by keeping the woman’s ovary from releasing an egg. Pregnancy cannot happen if there’s no egg to join the sperm.

What are the different types of morning-after pills?

  1. Plan B One Step – available over-the-counter. You do not need to provide a prescription or show proof of age at all. Plan B should be taken as soon as possible after intercourse, and is most effective if taken within 3 days. Plan B One Step contains the same type of medication, called progesterone, that is present in many types of birth control pills but at a higher dose so it works immediately to prevent ovulation.

Sometimes a high dose of progesterone will make you feel nauseated. Consider repeating the dose if vomiting occurs within two hours of taking it. You should resume regular contraception method immediately as Plan B does not protect you against additional acts of unprotected sex.

2. Ella- available only as a prescription from your provider. You must take Ella within five days of unprotected intercourse. Consider repeating dose if vomiting occurs within three hours.

Side Effects

Side effects are generally mild and temporary. Some women may experience: irregular periods, nausea, lower abdominal pain, tiredness, dizziness, breast pain or vomiting.

Teva Women’s Health. (2013,July). About Plan B One Step. Retrieved September 3, 2013 from Planned Parenthood Federation of American (2013). Morning-After Pill (Emergency Contraception). Retrieved September 3, 2013 from