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Emergency Contraception Decision Guide

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

There’s more misinformation surrounding emergency contraception than just about any other element of reproductive health (well, maybe except for abortion.) For example, did you know that Plan B is not the only option for emergency contraception? Plan B tends to be the most well-known option, but just like Kleenex is to facial tissues, Plan B is only one of several emergency contraception options (including generic brands).

If you’re looking for a quick guide to deciding which method of emergency contraception would work best for you, take a peek at our decision guide below:

More information on methods of Emergency Contraception:

The IUD:

  • IUDs are more effective than pills, but require a clinic visit. The IUD is inserted through your vagina and cervix into your uterus by a physician.

  • You can use either the copper (ParaGard®) or the IUDs that have a hormone like progesterone made by your body (Mirena® or Liletta ®) for EC

  • The IUD must be placed within five days (120 hours) after sex

  • There are NO weight or BMI limits.

  • The IUD can remain in your uterus and used as birth control for up to seven to twelve years (depending on which IUD).

  • You can have an IUD inserted by your gynecologist, other healthcare providers, or a Title X clinic.

Levonorgestrel pills (Plan B One-Step® and generics):

  • You can take levonorgestrel EC pills up to five days (120 hours) after having sex, but the sooner the better—they work better the sooner you take them

  • There is no age-restriction on buying Levonorgestrel

  • In Missouri, Plan B and its generics are available at most Title X and The Right Time clinics for low or no cost, without parental involvement and on a walk-in basis.

    • It’s a good idea to call the clinic before you go to make sure they offer Plan B on a walk-in basis

  • You don’t need a prescription for Plan B! However, if you pick it up at a local pharmacy or grocery store, they may carry only brand name Plan B®, which typically costs around $50. They may also keep it locked up or behind a counter, so you may have to ask for it.

    • If you have any trouble accessing it at the store, you can text us for help! We can also call nearby pharmacies on your behalf to find out the cost and the process for accessing it before you go.

  • You can keep Plan B on hand for the future—ordering a generic like My Way® or Take Action® online can save money. Just keep an eye on the expiration dates!

  • If you weigh more than 165 pounds or your BMI is equal to or greater than 25, Levonorgestrel pills may not work as well for you, and ella® or an IUD may be better options.


  • ella® is the most effective EC pill but is available by prescription-only

  • ella® works just as well anytime you take it (within 5 days of unprotected sex)

  • Title X or The Right Time clinics offer ella® as well, but by prescription only. We recommend you call the clinic and ask for an urgent appointment for an ella® prescription to prevent a pregnancy

  • There is no age restriction on ella®

  • If you weigh more than 195 pounds or BMI is ≥ 35, ella® may not work as well for you and an IUD may be a better option.

A note on BMI + weight:

BMl, or body mass index, measures one's weight-to-height ratio. BMl was developed in the 1830s, but took off in the 1970s; because of its ease, BMl is often incorrectly used to measure a person's overall health. However, there are a multitude of factors that the BMl does not take into consideration when measuring one's health. Right by You does not condone weight or BMI as a measurement or health, but rather measure of medication efficacy, as this Is the information the manufacturers provide. We urge EC manufacturers to create medicines that are effective for all so that weight and BMI are not factors

Emergency Contraception and Abortion are Not the Same

It’s a common misconception that we’re determined to bust! Emergency contraception is just like regular contraception (birth control) in that they both prevent pregnancy. EC pills work by preventing or delaying ovulation or, in some cases, preventing fertilization of the egg by the sperm if ovulation has already occurred.1 Abortion is categorically defined as the termination (ending) of a pregnancy, whereas all methods of contraception prevent pregnancy from occurring in the first place.

It is critical to note that there is no shame or moral judgment in any method to prevent or end pregnancy; this section is meant to provide factual information on the difference between abortion and contraception.

If you’re not sure where to start or need support picking the emergency contraception method for you, we’re here to help! Text Right By You at 855-458-0886 and our live volunteers can help you find compassionate, safe and judgment-free care for any of your reproductive health needs, including EC.


Right By You is a pro-choice text line that exists to connect you to ALL options. Our volunteers are trained to give you judgment-free and confidential information on abortion, birth control, adoption, prenatal and birth care and parenting. We can help connect you to resources and learn your rights.

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