Emergency Contraception

  • Blog post
    Plan B ® (levonorgestrel) emergency contraception

    Plan B ® (levonorgestrel) emergency contraception.

    © 2006 David Alexander, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Julie and her husband Ben have two children and don't want to have any more. They have successfully been using condoms for more than ten years to prevent another pregnancy, but late one night, a condom breaks. To the couple's great relief, a nearby pharmacy carries emergency contraception. Ben and Julie have plenty of worries in their everyday lives, but at least they can take care of their daily responsibilities without worrying she has become pregnant.

    Like Julie, roughly one in nine American women ages 15-44 has relied on emergency contraception at least once. For these women, and a growing number of women and girls around the world, emergency contraception has not only prevented unwanted pregnancy and related risks—it has also given peace of mind to its diverse users

  • Blog post

    “The condom broke, and I was totally scared. So was he.”

    A representative of Ixchen, a local NGO, explains outreach activities of the Reproductive Health/Emergency Contraception (RH/EC) Project to a pharmacy attendant in Managua, Nicaragua

    A representative of Ixchen, a local NGO, explains outreach activities of the Reproductive Health/Emergency Contraception (RH/EC) Project to a pharmacy attendant in Managua, Nicaragua. Jolene Beitz from PATH looks on attentively. The consumer-driven quality pharmacy project for adolescents was implemented by PRIME II/Intrahealth, PATH, and Ixchen.

    © 2002 Alfredo L. Fort, Courtesy of Photoshare

    This is how one woman begins her video testimonial on Princeton University’s Emergency Contraception website in support of access to emergency contraception. Though this particular woman is American, there are millions of women like her throughout the world who, whether because of sexual assault or coercion, failure of a contraceptive method, or unprotected sexual intercourse, have been at risk of unwanted pregnancy.

    When taken within five days of intercourse, emergency contraceptives can prevent most pregnancies. Emergency contraceptives, which include both emergency contraceptive pills and the copper IUD, are not only a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy, but they also help prevent unsafe abortion and maternal morbidity and mortality. In this way, emergency contraception has been a lifesaver for many women—literally. This is incredibly important in low- and middle-income countries, where 18.5 million unsafe abortions—86 percent of the annual global total—occur each year, claiming the lives of 47,000 women and accounting for 13 percent of all maternal deaths.

  • EC Cover

    New Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines on Emergency Contraceptive Pills

  • Blog post

    A broken condom. Missed pills. A sexual assault. These are just a few of the many situations that lead women to seek emergency contraception. When taken within five days of intercourse, emergency contraceptives can prevent most pregnancies. Emergency contraceptives are very safe, highly effective, and increasingly accessible around the world, to the relief of women everywhere.

    EC Cover

    New Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines on Emergency Contraceptive Pills

    The International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC) recently issued revised Clinical Guidelines for Emergency Contraception. These new guidelines, which reflect the most up-to-date available evidence on emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), were widely reviewed and endorsed by many organizations, including the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). Local programs can adapt the guidelines to comply with national policy or regional service delivery guidelines. Among the topics covered in the guidelines are ECP regimens, mechanisms, efficacy, safety, contraindications, and drug interactions. The guidelines address repeated use of ECPs as well as the initiation or resumption of regular contraceptive methods after the use of ECPs.  

  • Blog post

    Dr. Jim Shelton's Pearls is an occasional series by USAID’s Global Health Science Advisor that answers commonly asked questions about family planning. 

    Originally posted on September 1, 2010.

    Question: I understand the FDA has approved a new emergency contraceptive (EC). Can you please tell me about it?

    Answer: Yes, on August 13, 2010 the FDA approved ella (ulipristal acetate) as a new oral emergency contraceptive. Some of its attributes: