SC Emergency Contraception InitiativeEducating and empowering women in South Carolina by increasing awareness of and access to emergency birth control
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Getting EC

Using Regular Prescription Birth Control Pills as Emergency Birth Control Pills

Plan B® is the most common method of emergency birth control because:
  • It is designed to prevent pregnancy after sex,
  • It works the best,
  • It has the fewest side effects,
  • It is now available without a prescription to women ages 18 and older at many pharmacies, and
  • Those under age 18 can get a prescription from their health care provider

While Plan B® works well and is safe, some women have problems getting Plan B®. Some health care providers don’t know about Plan B® and will not prescribe it, while some pharmacists do not stock Plan B® on a regular basis or refuse to fill prescriptions. Many women in rural areas do not have access to a health care provider who will write a prescription for PlanB®. Young women have had other kinds of problems getting PlanB®, for example some health care providers do not guarantee private services for women under the age of 18, even when they are required to do so by law.

You can use some regular birth control pills as emergency birth control when you can't get PlanB®.

How many regular birth control pills a woman should use when she can’t get PlanB® depends on the type or brand of regular birth control pills she has. Some don’t work as emergency birth control at all – so women should be sure to check how whether the brand they have can be used and exactly how to use it. Click here to find out more about which brands can be used as emergency birth control.

Once a woman uses her regular birth control pills as emergency birth control, the pack of regular birth control pills will no longer have enough pills to protect her from pregnancy for the rest of the month. She must use condoms every time she has sex until her next period, and then start a new pack of regular birth control pills as she normally would after her period.

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