What is it?
The emergency contraceptive pill can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, sex where contraception fails (e.g. a condom breaks, missed birth control pills), or sexual assault to prevent an unwated pregnancy. The ECP is also known at Plan B or “the morning-after pill”.
When should I take ECP?
ECP can be taken if you have had unprotected sex one or more times within the last 72 hours (three days). It is more effective the sooner the pills are taken. Plan B (a kind of ECP) consists of two pills. The first pill needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex/contraception failure. The second pill is taken exactly 12 hours later. If it has been more than 72 hours, Plan B may still work but the risk of pregnancy increases as time passes.
What are possible side effects?
Plan B can cause temporary side effects in some women. These side effects generally don’t last more than 24 hours. Common side effects may include: nausea, vomiting and/or irregular menstrual bleeding. You should see a doctor immediately if you experience itching all over your body or cramping or severe pain in your belly/abdomen before your next normal period.
How will taking the ECP affect my period?
Taking Plan B will not bring on your period. Some women may experience spotting a few days after taking Plan B, but this is not your period. Your next period should come on time but it may be a few days early or a few days late. If your period is delayed more than a week, we advise you take a pregnancy test.
Where can I get ECP?
A doctor’s prescription is no longer required to get ECP. It is available over the counter as most pharmacies (try Shopper’s Drug Mart Midtown, 445 Princess St., right at Division or the Queen’s Centre Pharmacy). Expect to pay $20-$40 as price varies from pharmacy to pharmacy and brand to brand.
ECP is NOT birth control. Repeated use of the ECP may cause your menstrual cycle to change, and ECP becomes less effective the more frequently you take it. If needed, a sexpert would be happy to discuss a regular birth control method with you at the centre, or over the phone.