Emergency Contraception: The Morning After Pill

Emergency contraception is a special type of oral contraceptive that can be used if you didn’t use a contraceptive during sex, or if you used a condom that broke. Emergency contraception reduces the chance of pregnancy. It can be effective if used up to five days after having unprotected sex. However, the sooner you start the better your chances of not getting pregnant.

You may want EC if:

  • The condom broke or slipped off, and he ejaculated in your vagina.
  • He didn’t pull out in time.
  • You forgot to take your birth control pills, insert your ring, or apply your patch.
  • Your diaphragm or cap slipped out of place, and he ejaculated inside your vagina.
  • You miscalculated your “safe” days.
  • You weren’t using any birth control.
  • You were forced to have unprotected vaginal sex, or were raped. EC is available without a prescription for women (and men) 17 or older, but those 16 and younger need a prescription.

Where can you get emergency contraception? Plan B is available for women 17 and older at most drug stores with pharmacies, health centers and Planned Parenthood clinics. This contraception will not be on the shelves, but behind the counter. You must ask the pharmacist for them. If you’re younger than 17, you will need to go to a health center or visit your medical doctor to get a prescription for emergency contraception, with one exception. In some states, women under 18 can get emergency contraceptives directly from some pharmacists without a prescription. This is possible because of special pharmacy regulations in these states. Even in states that allow this, not all pharmacists participate, so be sure to call ahead to see a participating pharmacist is on duty. See participating states.

Protect yourself. Emergency contraception is best for emergencies only. It isn’t meant to be used as a regular form of birth control.

To get EC, check with:

  • Your local IHS or tribal health clinic
  • Your county, local, or state health department
  • Your school-based health clinic
  • A local Planned Parenthood clinic—to find the clinic nearest to you, visit:
  • If you live in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont, or Washington, you can get EC without a prescription at some pharmacies. Call your pharmacy in advance to make sure they offer and stock EC. If you live in one of these states, you can locate a pharmacy near you that dispenses EC at this website:

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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