Don’t Believe These 7 Emergency Contraception Myths

Published: September 8, 2019Updated: March 2, 2022
Emergency Contraception - Your Top Questions Answered | SimpleHealth

1. Emergency contraception is the same as an abortion pill.

An emergency contraception pill contains a large dose of hormone (either the hormone levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate) that works to suppress ovulation, block fertilization from occurring or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. This is all to say that emergency contraception prevents pregnancy from occurring; it cannot terminate an existing pregnancy. It can take several days for sperm to fertilize an egg and for that egg to correctly implant in the uterine wall—emergency contraception disrupts this process, which is why it must be taken in the days after unprotected sex. It cannot affect any impregnanation that has already taken place, which means it’s very different from an abortion pill. 

2. You need a prescription to get it.

While ella (the brand name of the emergency contraception pill containing ulipristal acetate) is still prescription-only in the United States, Plan B and other levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception pills are over-the-counter. You can also order Plan B online, and now you can get prescribed ella online through SimpleHealth. Regardless of how you acquire it, there’s no need for a doctor’s visit.

3. You need to take it immediately after having unprotected sex.

When emergency contraception is most effective actually depends on the brand. Plan B works most effectively within a 12-hour window after having unprotected sex. Ella, on the other hand, can be taken within 5 days of having unprotected sex, and maintains the same effectiveness throughout that period. You can read more about the various options and their levels of efficacy in this article.

4. Emergency contraception can cause birth defects.

There is no evidence linking emergency contraception use to birth defects. Even if a pregnant woman ingests emergency contraception, her baby will not be harmed. 

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5. Emergency contraception can have long term effects on your fertility.

Infertility has never been linked to emergency contraception use and doctors agree that it will not have long term effects on your fertility.

6. It’s safe to have unprotected sex after using emergency contraception.

Unfortunately, emergency contraception only prevents pregnancy for one instance of unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is a useful tool, but it’s not nearly as effective at preventing pregnancy as other primary forms of birth control. The chances of it working decrease if you have unprotected sex again—even if you have unprotected sex right after taking the pill. You should always use another method of birth control after taking emergency contraception.

7. The only way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex is to take Plan B.

Actually, Plan B is only one of many different emergency contraception pills on the market. Like Plan B, there are other brands of emergency contraception pills that contain levonorgestrel (such as Take Action, Next Choice One Dose and My Way) and one brand, ella, that contains ulipristal acetate. If you don’t want to use a pill, you can also get an IUD inserted as a method of emergency contraception. Any IUD will work to prevent pregnancy, so long as it is inserted within 5 days of having unprotected sex. What’s more? An IUD can continue to protect you from pregnancy for up to ten years, or whenever you decide to take it out. 

Emergency contraception is a great option for when a birth control method fails, but it shouldn’t be used as a regular birth control method. If you’ve struggled to find regular birth control because of cost or convenience, check out SimpleHealth. SimpleHealth lets you skip the doctor’s office and pharmacy runs by prescribing the pill, patch or ring (as well as emergency contraception) online and delivering your refills right to your door, for free. See how it works here.

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