Emergency Contraception

  • Rachel B. Rapkin
  • Eleanor Bimla Schwarz


Emergency contraception (EC) is a method of birth control that is taken after unprotected intercourse. It can be taken when a regular method of contraception is not used or is used incorrectly. EC is particularly important for victims of sexual assault or reproductive coercion. There are three methods of EC available in the USA: oral levonorgestrel, oral ulipristal acetate, and the copper intrauterine device (Cu-IUD). The Cu-IUD is most effective and offers both emergency and ongoing contraception. There are no contraindications to adolescents using EC, and side effects are generally mild. One form of levonorgestrel EC, Plan B One-Step, is now available over-the-counter for women of all ages. Other forms of levonorgestrel EC require a prescription for women younger than 17. Routinely discussing EC, providing timely access to copper IUDs for teens facing contraceptive emergencies, and offering advance prescription for EC are all ways to increase teens’ access to EC. Increased information about and access to EC does not increase teens’ sexual risk-taking behavior.


Ectopic Pregnancy Unintended Pregnancy Emergency Contraception Unprotected Intercourse Contraceptive Emergency 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Women’s Health Services Research Unit, Center for Research on Health CareUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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