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Morning After Pill

The morning-after pill is a type of emergency birth control (contraception). The purpose of emergency contraception is to prevent pregnancy after a woman has had unprotected sex. Morning-after pills contain either levonorgestrel (Plan B One-Step, Next Choice) or ulipristal (Ella).

Plan B One-Step, Next Choice and Ella are the only morning-after pills that have Food and Drug Administration approval in the U.S. However, other brands of morning-after pills are available around the world.

Plan B One-Step is available over-the-counter without prescription. Next Choice is available over-the-counter for women age 17 and older. Ella is available only with a prescription from your doctor or health care provider

The idea of emergency contraception —-or a morning-after pill—- is based on a theory. Under this theory, if a woman has unprotected sexual intercourse (without use of contraception, contraception failure or cases of rape) and fears she may become pregnant, she can take large doses of birth control pills to prevent a pregnancy.

Emergency contraception, essentially, is a high dosage of the birth control pill. It is recommended for use after sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing pregnancy.

There are three different ways birth control pills are currently being promoted for this use: progesterone alone, estrogen alone, or both of these artificial steroids together. Again, these are the same steroids found in the typical birth control pill.

Two of the most commonly used emergency contraceptive pills are Preven and Plan B.

Morning-after pills do not end a pregnancy that has implanted. Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, morning-after pills may act by one or more of the following actions: delaying or preventing ovulation, blocking fertilization, or keeping a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. However, recent evidence strongly suggests that Plan B One-Step and Next Choice do not inhibit implantation.