Contraception Emergency


In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for the emergency contraception pill, trade name Plan B One-StepTM, Next Choice One-DoseTM, and others.

What it’s for & How to take

The emergency contraception pill does not contain any estrogen; it only contains progestin. Emergency contraception is used in women to prevent pregnancy after a birth control failure such as a broken condom, or after unprotected sex.

This progestin hormone prevents pregnancy through two distinct pathways. First, this medication works to prevent the release of an egg during normal ovulation. Second, this medication changes the texture of the cervical mucus and the wall of the uterus making it much more difficult for an egg and sperm to meet, and more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall. This medication is not effective once a fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine wall.

This medication is a single-dose tablet of levonorgestrel 1.5 mg tablet. This medication is effective in decreasing the chance of pregnancy and should be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours after unprotected sex.

This category of emergency contraceptives is available as an over-the-counter product and may be purchased by anyone, without age restrictions or identification requirements. Not all pharmacies carry this medication. It is advisable to call the pharmacy first to make sure the medication is in stock.

If you have any questions about how or when to use emergency contraception, talk with your health care provider.

Warnings & Cautions

  • Emergency contraceptives are not as effective as birth control that is used before or during sex, such as the pill or condoms. If you are sexually active or planning to be, do not use emergency contraception as your only protection against pregnancy. This medication does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Emergency contraception will not stop a pregnancy when a woman is already pregnant. This medication should not be taken during pregnancy; however, there is no medical evidence that the product will harm a developing fetus when inadvertently used during early pregnancy. Do not breastfeed while taking this medication.
  • If your period is more than 7 days late, contact your health care provider for a pregnancy test.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • If you have any medication allergies, talk to your pharmacist or doctor first so they may determine if this medication is safe for you to take.
  • If you are taking any other medications, talk to your pharmacist or doctor first so they may help you avoid any dangerous drug interactions.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any blood clots, heart disease, diabetes or any other current medical conditions that may affect your dose of emergency contraception.
  • After taking this medication, you may feel some nausea, headache, bloating or dizziness. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • If you experience any significant changes in vaginal bleeding, or if you miss your period, contact your doctor to talk about it.
  • Call your doctor right away if you feel a severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or balance, swelling in your body or any breast lumps.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20