What is Emergency Birth Control

Emergency Birth Control, also called Emergency Contraception (EC) can be used AFTER unprotected vaginal-penile sex (sex without birth control) to reduce the chance of getting pregnant. Examples of unprotected sex may include:

  • When birth control fails (e.g., condom slipped off or broke, birth control pills were missed)
  • When sperm gets inside the vagina (e.g., while using the withdrawal method)  
  • When sex happened without using a reliable birth control method
  • Sexual Assault  

There are 4 types of EC that are available:

  1. Copper IUD
  2. Progesterone Emergency Birth Control Pill  (Brand name “Plan B” or sometimes called the morning after pill)
  3. Ulipristal Acetate Pill (Brand name Ella)
  4. Yupze Method (using combined hormonal birth control pills)

How does EC work?

  • Some methods prevent pregnancy by stopping the release of an egg (ovulation), while others prevent fertilization.

How effective is EC?

  • The copper IUD is the most effective method of EC. It is  99% effective at preventing pregnancy if inserted up to seven days after unprotected vaginal sex.
  • Emergency Contraceptive Pills range in effectiveness from 50% – 80%, depending on which type and when they are taken.

Where can I get Emergency Birth Control?

  • A Copper IUD is the most effective and requires a visit with a health care provider who is trained in IUD insertion, such as a physician or Nurse Practitioner. In British Columbia you can visit to find a health care provider close to you who can do a same day or next day Copper IUD insertion for emergency contraception.
  • Progesterone only Emergency Contraceptive Pills (such as plan B) are available at all Options clinics, most youth clinics, emergency departments, and pharmacies without a prescription.
  • You can call or email Sex Sense to find a clinic near you.
  • Consider buying EC pills ahead of time to have “on hand”.

Seems confusing? We’re here for you!

We know it can be confusing to choose a method. We are here to help. Our Options for Sexual Health Clinics are staffed by health care professionals who are there to answer your questions. They can help you learn how to use the method you choose and bring you back in to check in on how the method is working for you.

Between visits or any time, our Sex Sense team is there to answer any questions you might have by phone (1-800-739-7367) or by email at

This is general information and should not be used in place of individual consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

Have a question about sexual health?