Emergency Contraception (EC)

What Is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception (EC) helps prevent pregnancy after having sex without condoms or other forms of birth control – or when your birth controlmethod fails (e.g., the condom breaks). There are a few different EC options available, so keep reading to find one that works best for you. 

While EC is effective at preventing pregnancy, it should not be used as your regular form of birth control. Check out Bedsider.org’s Birth Control Method Explorer to learn more about birth control methods that might be best for you. The most effective regular birth control method is one that you can remember to use consistently and correctly!

Over-the-Counter (OTC) EC

  • What is it? Levonorgestrel, sold under brand names such as Plan B One-Step or E-Contra EZ, is a pill that reduces the risk of pregnancy when taken as soon as possible after sex, and can be purchased without a prescription by anyone of any age. OTC EC stops a pregnancy beforeit starts, and does notend an existing pregnancy.
  • How effective is it? OTC EC works best when taken within one day (24 hours) after sex, and its effectiveness decreases each day. When taken within three days (72 hours) after sex, the chance of becoming pregnant decreases by 89%. When taken within five days (120 hours) after sex, the chance of becoming pregnant decreases by 50%. If you weigh more than 165 pounds, ulipristal (ella) may be a more effective option for you – talk to your healthcare provider!
  • Where can you get it?
    • On campus, you can purchase OTC EC at the SHCS Pharmacy for $30.
    • The Wellness To Go Vending Machine located inside the ARC Study Lounge also sells OTC EC for $30 (cash-only).
    • With a prescription, many insurance plans will cover the cost of OTC EC – meaning you do not have to pay anything for it. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask about coverage for OTC EC.
    • Most retail pharmacies carry OTC EC. We recommend calling the pharmacy first to make sure they have OTC EC in stock.
    • Because OTC EC must be taken as soon as possible, we recommend obtaining it before you actually need it.

Ulipristal (ella)

  • What is it? Ulipristal, sold under the brand name ella, is a prescription-only pill that reduces risk of pregnancy when taken within five days (120 hours) after sex. If you weigh more than 165 pounds, this option may be more effective for you than OTC EC – talk to your healthcare provider! Ella stops a pregnancy before it starts, and does not end an existing pregnancy.
  • How effective is it? Ella can reduce your chance of becoming pregnant 85% if taken within five days (120) hours after sex. It is equally as effective on the first day after sex as it is on the fifth day after sex, but we recommend taking it as soon as possible.
  • Where can you get it? 
    • On campus, medical providers at SHCS can prescribe ella. This requires an appointment, so call the Appointment Desk at 530-752-2349 or schedule online through Health-e-Messaging.
    • Off campus, contact your healthcare provider or visit a family planning clinic such as Planned Parenthood.
    • Many insurance plans will cover the cost of ella – meaning you do not have to pay anything for it. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask about coverage for ella.
    • Because ella must be taken within 5 days, we recommend obtaining it before you actually need it.

Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)

  • What is it? The copper IUD is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a healthcare provider. The IUD is non-hormonal, and the copper is damaging to sperm. After insertion, the copper IUD can be effective against pregnancy for up to 12 years.
  • How effective is it? The copper IUD is the most effective form of EC, reducing risk of pregnancy by more than 99%. It must be inserted within 5 days after sex, and is equally as effective on the fifth day after sex as it is on the first day after sex.
  • Where can you get it?
    • Healthcare providers at SHCS do not insert IUDs as EC, so contact your healthcare provider or visit a family planning clinic such as Planned Parenthood.
    • Many insurance plans will cover the cost of a copper IUD – meaning you do not have to pay anything for it. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask about coverage for a copper IUD.

Safer Sex Products

  • All registered UC Davis students can visit the Love Lab for no-cost safer sex products. Non-latex options are available!
  • Check out the UC Davis Sexcess Map to find sexual health resources on and around campus.

Resources