Where to Get Emergency Contraception?

What over the counter birth control is available for Emergency Contraception?

More Frequently Asked Questions

The only over the counter birth control available in the U.S. is Plan B (Next Choice, levonorgestrel) which is a progestin-only pill that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Contraception (morning after pill, day after pill, post coital contraception, day after contraception). Plan B can be purchased over the counter by men and women who are 17 or older.

Plan B or morning after over the counter pill is able to reduce the risk of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. It is most effective when taken immediately after exposure to unprotected intercourse, but it may be initiated up to 120 hours (5 days) after the incident.

When did the FDA approve plan b for 17 year olds to purchase over the counter?

It was not until Aug. 2009 when the FDA gave approval for Plan B to be purchased over the counter which is maintained behind the pharmacy counter. This still means that young women less than 17 years are only able to purchase Plan B after getting a prescription. This still causes an unnecessary delay and prevents a number of teenagers access to a drug that is extremely safe and is able to prevent thousands of unwanted or unintended pregnancies. All women of reproductive age should have access to Plan B without any barriers to being able to purchase them as time is of essence. The most effective time to prevent pregnancy with Plan B is immediately after the exposed unprotected intercourse event. Even a delay of 12 hours from the unprotected sex event doubles the incidence of pregnancy after taking Plan B (0-12 hours .9% incidence of pregnancy; 13-24 hours 1.8% incidence of pregnancy).

How is plan b over the counter purchased?

Plan B over the counter can be found at the local Pharmacy. It is restricted to being “behind the counter” where the Pharmacist is present and therefore it must be asked for by those who are 17 years and older. A prescription is needed for young women under the age of 17 which means an appointment must be made for them to see a healthcare provider. For those less than 17, it is useful to have Plan B at home so that it is readily available. A government issue ID card will be necessary to provide proof of age. This is also a deterrent for many young women who may actually be 17 years of age or older, but do not have a valid government issued ID and are refused Plan B emergency contraception.

Is a prescription needed to purchase the morning after over the counter (plan b) pill?

The only morning after over the counter pill available for Emergency Contraception in the U.S. is Plan B. A prescription is not necessary for women or men who are 17 years of age or older. If less than 17 years old, Plan B (morning after pill, day after pill, post-coital contraception, day after contraception) requires a prescription. Family Planning facilities such as the Women’s Center are able to provide patients with emergency contraception immediately.

Is identification required to purchase emergency birth control?

Plan B One Step and Next Choice (morning after pill, day after pill, post-coital contraception, day after contraception) are available over the counter for purchase as emergency birth control to men or women who are 17 years of age or older. Due to this age restriction, a government issued form of identification that can prove an individual’s age is required for purchase.

Where can I purchase an Emergency Contraceptive?

Plan B One Step or Next Choice can be purchased over the counter at any pharmacist without a prescription by women or men above the age of 17 years old.

Prescriptions are needed to purchase Plan B One Step, Next Choice, or a combined oral contraceptive (birth control pill) that can be used as an Emergency Contraceptive. Combined birth control pills (estrogen and progestin) are not as effective and have more side effects than Plan B or Next Choice which is the reason that Plan B is the most common form of Emergency Contraception used in the U.S.

The Intrauterine Device is not used very often in the U.S. for Emergency Contraception, but it is the Women’s Center opinion that it should be the first method of choice offered to all patients if there are not contraindications to its use. This is because the IUD is the most effective at reducing the incidence of a unwanted or unintended pregnancy (over 99%) if it is inserted within 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected intercourse. The side effects are minimal except for the first 20 days where there is a 6 fold increase in infection, and the expulsion rate is highest during the first three months after insertion. Patients must have a follow-up exam 3 to 6 weeks after insertion to assure there are no signs of infection, expulsion of the IUD, and no severe cramping or heavy bleeding with menses which is a normal occurrence the first 3 to 4 months after insertion.

The IUD must be placed by competent medical personnel who generally are Ob/Gyn Physicians, Family Practice Physicians, Health Departments, or Family Planning facilities such as the Women’s Center. The Women’s Centers are open 6 or 7 days a week (depending on location) for evaluation for IUD insertion.

How much does emergency contraception cost? 

The cost of Emergency Contraceptive Pills (morning after pills, day after pills, post coital contraception, day after contraception, Plan B) can be anywhere from $35 to $70 to purchase over the counter at the pharmacy. If less than 17 years old, a prescription is required which means a visit to see your personal Physician, local health department, or Family Planning facility. An office visit can cost between $30.00 and $70.00.

If a prescription of combined birth control pills are written to be used for Emergency Contraception, it can cost $40.00 to $50.00.

Insertion of an Intrauterine Device (IUD) can cost between $450.00 to $800.00. The IUD is the most effective means of Emergency Contraception. Once inserted, it can be used for long term reversible contraceptive method up to 12 years.

Plan B cost can be prohibitive to a lot of people. Are there other alternatives to using Plan B that are less expensive?

Plan B can cost between $35 to $70.00. It does not include the pregnancy test, or discussion with a medical provider who is able to do a history and physical and provide long term contraceptive methods as Emergency Contraception (morning after pill, day after pill, post coital contraception, day after contraception) should not be used as a primary method of contraception because of the high failure rate. Plan B is effective for only one episode of exposure of Emergency Contraception during a menstrual cycle. If exposed to another episode of unprotected intercourse occurs after 12 hours of taking Plan B, then another tablet is required. In addition; if Plan B is used as the primary form of birth control, there is a 20% chance of pregnancy occuring in a one year period of time.

For patients who are 16 years or younger, a prescription is needed to purchase Plan B (Next Choice, morning after pills). In order to reduce the cost of getting Emergency Contraception, a prescription can be acquired and filled and placed in the medicine cabinet so that it can be available for use immediately. This eliminates the expense of making a visit to get emergency contraception and it will be available when Plan B has its highest effect at reducing the incidence of pregnancy.

Combined oral contraceptive pills (estrogen and progestin) can be used as Emergency Contraceptive Pills. There are generic birth control pills available; however, a prescription is required and can be less expensive to purchase than Plan B (Next Choice). Family Planning Clincs such as the Women’s Center can inform women about ways that the cost can be reduced in order to give more access to patients who have been exposed to unprotected sex who do not want to become pregnant.
Where to Get Emergency Contraception

For men or women less than 17 years old, what is the best way to buy Plan B or any other type of Emergency Contraception without obtaining parent consent or knowledge?

You do not need consent from parents to receive birth control including Emergency Contraception from a Physician or Family Planning facility. The U.S. Constitution protects all women’s rights to obtain birth control to prevent pregnancy without notification or consent from parents. This is not the case with women who are pregnant and seek abortion as states continue to seek notification or consent from parents for patients under the age of 18 to have an abortion performed.

For women and men 17 years of age or older, Plan B One Step (Next Choice, morning after pills, day after pills, post coital contraception, day after contraception) can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription. If less than 17 years old, a prescription for Plan B (Next Choice) is required.

Plan B (Next Choice, morning after pills, day after pills, post coital contraception, the day after contraception) is more effective the sooner that it is taken after the episode of unprotected intercourse. This is the reason that it should be available immediately in the medicine cabinet instead of having to wait to purchase at the pharmacy or go to the Physician’s office or Family Planning clinic to get a prescription for Emergency Contraception. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommend getting Emergency Contraceptive Pills before they are needed.

Should I get contraception emergency pills to keep in my home where I have other medications in case I need them?

Having contraception emergency pills (morning after pills, day after pills, post coital contraception, day after contraception) if you are between the ages of 15 to 44 years old and sexually active or plan to are strongly advised to keep them available in the home. They are most effective immediately after exposure to unprotected intercourse. So having them available in the home allows the contraceptive emergency pills to be taken immediately. The pills do not expire for several years. Please keep them out of reach of children and store at room temperature between 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Attempting to find a pharmacy or health care provider at night or weekend when unprotected intercourse most commonly occurs can be difficult. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Women’s Center strongly advise providing all women with a form of Contraception Emergency.

Is there a generic Plan B?

Yes, there is a generic version of Plan B which is made by a unit of Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. which is available by prescription only for women 17 years old and younger. It was made available for women 18 years or older on 24 Aug. 09 without a prescription which is when exclusivity for nonprescription use held by Duramed Pharmaceuticals which is a subsidiary of Barr Pharma, maker of the original Plan B pill ended. In order for generic plan b to be made available for women who are older than 17 years old without a prescription, Watson will have to seek FDA approval for that. Presently a woman can get a prescription for the generic Plan B product, but that would be an “off-label” use because the generic product specifies the age range of the patients for whom it’s approved.

Generic Plan B (levonorgestrel, emergency contraception, morning after pill, day after pill, post coital contraception, day after contraception) can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It is not effective in terminating an existing pregnancy. In essence, generic plan b is not the abortion pill. It does not protect against Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or HIV infection.

Can patients buy levonorgestrel (Plan B) online?

Yes. Patients are able to buy levonorgestrel (plan b, emergency contraception, morning after pill, day after pill, post coital contraception, day after contraception) online. There are several challenges with purchasing levonorgestrel online, even though it may be the only way that someone is able to get the product.

  1. The delay in receiving levonorgestrel (plan b) could be several days. The most effective time to take Emergency Contraceptive Pills is immediately after the episode of unprotected intercourse. If taken less than 24 hours after the episode, it reduces an unwanted pregnancy by 95%. If wait until greater than 73 hours but less than 120 hours, it reduces the incidence of unintended pregnancy by 63%.
  2. There is no certainty that you will receive the correct medication, or whether the dosage is truly what it says it is as these medications are not monitored by governmental agencies.
  3. There is no one to discuss the risks, benefits, or give you options to use other methods of Emergency Contraception which may have less side effects and more beneficial at preventing unwanted pregnancy in the short and long term.

What is the cost of Emergency Contraception?

The cost of Emergency Contraception can vary from the type of contraception that is used, to the physician’s office or family planning clinic that you visit, to the pharmacy that the Emergency Contraception is purchased from.

The cost of Plan B at a U.S. pharmacy can cost between $35.00 to $70.00. If you go to a Family Planning Clinic, it may cost between $50.00 to $100.00 depending on the type of pills and the charge for the pregnancy test and office visit. If having an IUD inserted, it may cost between $400.00 and $750.00. Not only is it effective for Emergency Contraception, but it a long term reversible form of birth control.

Where can I find an emergency contraception pharmacist?

Emergency contraception pharmacists can be found in many parts of most cities. It is important to call ahead of time as the pharmacy may be closed and at times there may be a pharmacist on duty that may have conscientious reasons for not wanting to dispense Emergency Contraception (morning after pills, day after pills, post coital contraception, day after contraception, Plan B) because they feel that 1) contraceptive methods are immoral, 2) hormonal contraceptive methods (birth control pills or emergency contraception cause abortion or murder as if they believe that pregnancy occurs with fertilization and not implantation. There is no evidence that hormonal contraceptives work after implantation takes place. Governmental agencies and medical societies define pregnancy as only beginning after implantation has occurred. Despite this, there are medical personnel and pharmacists who believe that pregnancy occurs at the time of fertilization, and are protected by U.S. laws not to write prescriptions or dispense them with no recourse.

What Emergency Contraception Laws are in place regarding purchasing Emergency Contraception?

For women or men who are 18 years of age or older, emergency contraception can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Some form of government identification must be presented in order to be able to purchase Plan B (levonorgestrel, Next Choice) as it is the only FDA approved over the counter Emergency Contraceptive available.

For patients who are 17 years of age or younger, a prescription is required to purchase generic Plan B. Patients 18 years of age or older who wish to purchase plan b must also have a prescription. It must be used in a “off label” fashion as generic Plan B is only indicated for women 17 years old or less.

How do I purchase birth control as Emergency Contraception?

There are over 2 dozen birth control pills that can be purchased as birth control Emergency Contraceptive in the U.S. A prescription must be written by a medical provider in order to receive them as a form of contraceptive emergency. Women or men are able to buy emergency contraception at a pharmacy with a prescription. Generic birth control pills can cost anywhere from $25 to $50.00 at the pharmacy so please call different ones to determine the least expensive place to purchase them.

Birth control pills used for Emergency Contraception (morning after pill, day after pill, post coital contraception, day after contraception) consist of estrogen and progesterone and reduce the incidence of pregnancy by 75% if used in 72 hours or less after unprotected intercourse.

Where can I get the IUD as emergency contraception?

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is the most effective form of emergency contraceptive there is on the market if it is inserted 120 hours (5 days) or less after unprotected intercourse. It is over 99% effective in preventing an unwanted or unintended pregnancy. It should be offered to all women who present for Emergency Contraception as not only is it the best post coital contraception method on the market, it can be used as one of the most effective forms of contraception over the long term as it is approved for 12 years as a reversible form of birth control.

The Emergency IUD can be inserted by medical personnel who have been trained on insertion and know the indications, contraindications, risks, and benefits of using the IUD. They can be inserted by the patients personal Physician, Health Department, of Family Planning facility such as the Women’s Center who are proud to offer the IUD as the number one choice for Emergency Contraception and long term reversible contraceptive use.

Do your facilities have an emergency contraception hot line?

We at the Women’s Centers do not have an emergency contraception hot line. We are available on a walk in basis daily to evaluate patients for emergency contraception.

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