Family PACT

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About Emergency Contraceptive Pills

You can use Emergency Contraceptive pills (EC pills)
if you had sex without using a birth control method or if your
birth control method failed. 

EC pills are taken after unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy.

Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo 

When should I use EC pills?

EC pills should be used as soon as possible if you
had sex without protection.  For Example:

  • "You weren't using any birth control method.
  • The condom broke or slipped off.
  • You forgot to take your birth control pills for 1
    day in the first week or 3 days in the second or
    third week.
  • Your contraceptive patch fell off and stayed
    off for longer than 24 hours or you were late
    changing your patch.
  • Your vaginal ring was out for 3 hours or longer.

EC pills should not be used as a regular birth
control method.  Talk to your Family PACT provider
about getting a regular method of birth control.

What do EC pills do?

EC pills lower the chances you will get pregnant
after unprotected sex.
EC pills work best if you take them within 24 hours.
But you must take them no later than 5 days after

How do EC pills work?

EC pills:

  • Stop the egg from leaving your ovaries.
  • Stop sperm from getting to the egg.
  • Keep the egg from attaching to the uterus.

Emergency contraception pillsEC pills come in different forms. 

What do some women like about
EC pills?

  • EC pills are a good backup if your birth
    control method fails.
  • EC pills are safe and easy to use.
What do some women dislike?
  • EC pills may make you fell sick to your
  • Women will need a prescription to get
    some kinds of EC pills

Women can use EC safely.

EC pills have not been shown to cause any
health problems.

  • You can use it even if you have a
    history of blood clots.
  • You can use it even if you are
  • EC pills will not stop a pregnancy that has
    already started. It is not an abortion pill.

How do I use EC Pills?

Your Family PACT provider or pharmacist will
tell you how many and what type of pills to
take. There are 3 different types of EC pills.
Some contain ulipristal acetate, some have
levonorgestrel, and others are regular birth
control pills. Your provider will give you the
EC pills that are best for you.

When EC comes in two doses, some providers    
may tell you to take both doses at the same
time. Others may tell you to take each dose
12 hours apart. Both ways of taking EC pills
are equally good.

The main thing to remember is:

  • Take EC as soon as you can after the
    unprotected sex.
  • It works best the sooner you take it.

Some women get an upset stomach after
using EC pills. Over-the-counter products for
treating nausea may help you with this.

If you vomit within 2 hours of taking EC pills,
some providers advise repeating the EC dose,
while others think that this is not needed. Ask
your provider what they want you to do.

If you do not get your period within three
weeks of taking EC, call your Family PACT
provider and let them know.

EC pills do not protect you
from HIV (the virus that causes
AIDS) or other infections
people get from having sex.
Client on the phone

We called a Family PACT provider right away
and found out how to get EC pills.

What about the side effects of EC?

You may have these side effects when you
EC pills:

  • You may feel sick to your stomach or
  • You may have headaches or feel dizzy.
  • Your breasts may feel tender.
  • Your next period may come early or late, or
    you may spot between periods, or have
    changes  in how much bleeding you have or
    how long your period is.                        

Where can I get EC pills?

Most pharmacies and many Family PACT
providers have EC pills. A physical exam is not
needed to get EC pills.

  • Family PACT female clients can get EC at
    no cost.
    • From their Family PACT provider
    • From a pharmacy with a prescription
  • Women and men of any age can buy the
    Plan B One-Step at a pharmacy without a
  • Women and men who are 15 or older can buy
    the one-or two-tablet levonorgestrel EC pills
    at a without a prescription.

© 2011 Department of Health Care Services, Office of Family Planning. All Rights Reserved. Revised 2013.                                                                          
* For additional copies, go to:
OF3021 EC Pill ENG