By Graci D’Amore, Program & Operations Coordinator at Jane’s Due Process
What is Emergency Contraception?
It’s a form of birth control that prevents pregnancy after sex–sometimes called “the morning after pill” or “plan B” (this is a particular brand though). Emergency contraceptive needs to be taken immediately after sex – or up to 5 days after having intercourse (depending on the brand). The sooner you take an emergency contraceptive, the more effective it is.
There are two types of emergency contraceptives:
- Emergency contraceptive (EC) pills
- Copper-T IUD – this device has to be inserted by a physician within 5 days of unprotected sex.
How do the EC pills work?
There are two types of emergency contraceptive pills–the difference is the active ingredient.
The first type, most commonly known as Plan B, delivers a high dose of levonorgestrel (which is a synthetic progestin, a hormone your body naturally makes) to delay ovulation (the release of an egg). Levonorgestrel is the same active ingredient as long term birth control pills, but it is at a much higher dose in the emergency contraceptive medication. You can take these up to 5 days after having unprotected sex, but it is more effective the sooner you take it.
The other type of EC pill is called Ella which contains ulipristal, which also delays or prevents ovulation but additionally, makes it difficult for the egg to embed in the uterus. Ella is effective up to 5 days after having unprotected sex and is just as effective on day 5 as it is on day 1.
Where can I get EC?
First, there are no age requirements for buying emergency contraceptives in Texas!
There are many brands of levonorgestrel-based pills that you can buy over the counter at your local drugstore or pharmacy. Some of these include: Plan B, My Choice, My Way, Next Choice, and Preventeza. Another great place to purchase the levonorgestrel-based pills is your local abortion clinic–they typically sell it for $20!
Note: The brand, Plan B can be expensive (around $40-$60) so check out the generic brands like My Choice or My Way which are cheaper, around $20 and just as effective!
If you don’t want to go into a store to purchase EC, you can use the pharmacy drive-thru to purchase it! You can also check out the pharmacy’s curbside pick-up options or an app that will deliver it to you (i.e. Postmates, Favor, Instacart and Amazon).
If you’d prefer to order online for discretion but suspect your online activity is being monitored, remember the following:
- Clear your search history
- review the notification settings on your online accounts, and see who has access to view the purchases before buying anything online. It’s very important to include these tips if they suspect that their online activity is being monitored. (check out techsafety.org for more tips).
Ella is prescription only in Texas, which means it needs to be prescribed from a doctor and then purchased at the pharmacy. This is typically around $50.
Copper-T IUD/Non Hormonal IUD:
An appointment must be made for the insertion of the Copper-T IUD (intrauterine device) . If you are under 18 and cannot get parental consent for birth control, you can go to a Title X clinic and get free and confidential birth control, including the Copper-T IUD that lasts up to 12 years (and can be removed at any time).
Not sure where your nearest Title X clinic is? Text us at 866-999-5263 to chat with a volunteer!
If you live in the Austin, TX area:
Jane’s Due Process and Bridge Collective have partnered to deliver free “repro kits” to anyone in the Austin area (and surrounding 20 miles). These kits have emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, condoms, information and resources! Deliveries are discreet and contactless. Want to know more? Text 866-999-5263.
Can I use emergency contraceptives, like the pill, as a regular form of birth control?
The emergency contraceptive pills are a short term solution – you must use condoms or another form of birth control to prevent pregnancy, even after taking the EC pill. These medications contain a high dose of hormones that is safe to take occasionally, but can cause side effects like headaches, mood swings, and irregular menstrual cycles if taken frequently.
Check out Bedsider.org for more information on side effects, frequently asked questions and other forms of long term birth control.
Does Plan B work for everyone?
Unfortunately, no. Research indicates that the emergency contraceptive pills are less effective in people who weigh over 176 pounds, or who have a BMI >26. Some doctors recommend taking 2 pills instead of 1 if you are over 176 lbs.
The pills will also not work if you have already ovulated, if an egg has already been fertilized, or if a fertilized egg has already implanted in the uterus (i.e., if you are already pregnant).
Still have questions?
Text the Jane’s Due Process hotline at 866.999.5263 and speak with a volunteer! This is a lot of info and you don’t have to navigate this alone, we are here to help!