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Emergency Contraception, Ambulatory Care

Emergency contraception (EC)

is medicine or an intrauterine device (IUD) used to prevent pregnancy when birth control fails or was not used. EC can also be used after a sexual assault. You can still get pregnant after you use EC, but your risk of pregnancy is greatly reduced.

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain or a fever

How EC works:

EC prevents or delays ovulation. It will not harm an established pregnancy or cause an abortion. EC can be used up to 5 days after intercourse, but it works best when used as soon as possible. Because it prevents or delays ovulation, you may ovulate later in your cycle. This means you can get pregnant if you have unprotected intercourse several days after you use EC.

Hormonal EC

is given as 1 or 2 pills. Use hormonal EC exactly as directed. Use condoms for the rest of your cycle to protect you from pregnancy in case you ovulate later than usual.

A copper IUD

placed in your uterus within 7 days of intercourse can prevent pregnancy. The IUD can remain in your uterus for up to 10 years to provide long-term birth control. You need a vaginal exam, a pregnancy test, and tests for infections before you receive an IUD. It cannot be inserted if you have an infection.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for a pregnancy test or tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). EC is safe, but the hormone form is not a substitute for long-term birth control. EC will also not protect you from STIs. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about long-term birth control or STIs. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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