What Young Adults Believe About EC

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What Young Adults Believe About EC

by Chloe Bautista

Main takeaways:

  • Emergency contraception works up to five days after unprotected sex.
  • It is between 75-89% effective.
  • Emergency contraception will not make it harder for you to get pregnant in the future.

Here’s what’s true about emergency contraception: you don't need a prescription to get it, and anyone of any age or gender can buy it. is available at many drug stores, or health clinics like Planned Parenthood.

But there’s a lot more stuff about EC that you should know, especially what’s true and what isn’t, such as the myths below.

MYTH: it only works “the morning after.”

The nickname “the morning after pill” gives many people the idea that the pill can only be used the morning after unprotected sex. Not true: the window for EC to work is up to 5 days. But the sooner you take it after unprotected sex the more effective it will be, so don’t even wait until the morning after if you don’t have to.

MYTH: it's always effective.

Emergency contraception can be a way to reduce the chance of becoming pregnant; but it is only between 75-89% effective. Your weight can also affect how effective EC is. This is why you shouldn’t rely on emergency contraception as your main method of birth control

MYTH: taking EC too often can affect your fertility.

No evidence links emergency birth control to affecting your fertility, or reducing your chances of getting pregnant when you’re ready.

MYTH: EC has severe side effects.

Most of the millions of people who have taken EC haven’t experienced severe side effects. For many, the only side effects they experience mostly affect their next period. Your period can be different from usual, it can come earlier or later, or the flow can also change, and it might be heavier or lighter. You might also have nausea, feel lightheaded, or have tender breasts. 

MYTH: it is always a pill.

Non-hormonal IUDs can also be used as emergency contraception. Additionally, they are the most effective form of EC; over 99% effective. Once placed IUDs can last up to 12 years but can be removed at any time.

MYTH: it does the same thing as an abortion pill.

EC is not the same as an abortion pill.

Emergency contraception either delays or prevents the release of an egg from the ovary or prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg if ovulation has taken place. An abortion pill will stop a pregnancy (an already fertilized egg in the uterus) from continuing. If the egg is fertilized before you take emergency contraception, then the pill will not work. 

Taking EC is something that 1 in 9 women do at some point during their lives. You don't have to feel ashamed or embarrassed for taking it; many of us have been, or will be someday, in your position. You are not alone.

Chloe Bautista is a senior at Walt Whitman High School in Maryland. She is a member of the field hockey team and a part of the Girl Up club. She plans to study public policy and digital analytics in college and is interning at Power to Decide to spread awareness of the non-profit.