Emergency Contraception (EC)

His condom broke...
You forgot to take your pill...
He didn’t pull out in time...
He forced you to have sex...
You were both intoxicated...


Emergency Contraception (EC) is available at the Health Services Pharmacy for $25. You do not need a prescription. EC is available to men and women who are 17 and older.


What Emergency Contraception (EC)

Birth control used AFTER intercourse to prevent pregnancy. It can be provided through oral medication or insertion of an IUD (intrauterine device). Use of EC is a safe and effective way of reducing the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse (condom failure, missed oral contraceptive (OC), or failure to use a contraceptive method, etc.) Formerly referred to as the “morning after pill.” EC is intended as emergency contraception. If you have a need for ongoing contraception please discuss this with a clinical provider at Health Services.

EC is not the abortion pill (RU486). EC is not effective after pregnancy has occurred and cannot interrupt it.

How it works?

EC creates a short strong burst of hormones which interfere with the normal hormone patterns of the menstrual cycle. They may prevent release of an egg from the ovary, disturb the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation in the uterus or interfere with the transportation of the egg or sperm through the fallopian tube.

Risk of pregnancy?

The risk of becoming pregnant with any single act of intercourse can be as high as 30%. Pregnancy rates are less than 4% after use of emergency contraception. If you are already pregnant before using EC the existing pregnancy is unlikely to be affected. If EC fails to prevent pregnancy there should be no effect on the pregnancy. Using EC will not affect a woman's ability to become pregnant in the future.

Are there contraindications?

There are very few contraindications to using EC. These contraindications include existing pregnancy, undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, or allergy to the ingredients of the pills.

How is it used?

One tablet of EC is taken within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. It appears to be more effective if it is taken within 24 hours of unprotected intercourse.

What are the common side effects?

Common side effects can include: headache, fluid retention, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, nausea, and mild abdominal pain. These subside within a few days. Menstrual changes may occur during the cycle in which EC is used. These include spotting and/or a period may be earlier or later than expected.

Contact Health Services if you experience any of the following after taking EC:

  • Vomit within 2 hours of taking your dose of EC (this is very unlikely). This dose must be repeated. There is medication available to help prevent vomiting.
  • Do not start menses within three weeks of taking EC.
  • Have a very unusual period.


You can make an appointment to see a Health Services clinical provider if you have any additional questions or concerns:

  •  (603) 862-1094 to talk with a pharmacist
  •  (603) 862-2856 to talk with a triage nurse

Additional Resources: