Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) is a safe and effective back-up method of birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. There are several kinds of EC; read more to find out which one might work best for you or your partner.

There are three ways to access emergency contraception in Maine:

At Your Local Family Planning Clinic

  • There is no age restriction
  • Women and men can pick up (some kinds of) EC
  • Some forms of EC can be obtained without an appointment or prescription (some paperwork required)
  • For some forms of EC, you will need an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner

At the Pharmacy Counter

  • There is no age restriction to access EC from the pharmacy counter
  • Some forms are available without a prescription
  • Some forms require a prescription
  • A government issued ID may be required (for proof of age) for some types of EC
  • Only women can buy them
  • There needs to be a trained pharmacist available
  • You have to ask the pharmacists or clerk for them

Over the Counter

  • There is no age restriction to buy Plan B, one brand of EC, over the counter
  • Government issued ID is NOT required
  • Men and women can purchase them
  • Plan B should be found on shelves and any pharmacist or clerk can sell them to you
  • You don't have to fill out any paperwork

Emergency Contraception FAQs

How do ECs work?
This information is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services EC site:

Emergency contraception can keep you from becoming pregnant by:

  • Keeping the egg from leaving the ovary, or...
  • Keeping the sperm from meeting the egg, or...
  • Keeping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus (womb)

If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will NOT work.

Who can use ECs?

  • If you had unprotected sex in the last 120 hours (5 days), EC may work for you
  • Plan B works best within 72 hours (3 days)
  • Ella may be a good choice for those with a BMI of 26-35 and works for up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex (Find your BMI here)

Who should not take EC?

  • Known or suspected pregnancy - EC does not work if you are already pregnant
  • Hypersensitivity to any component of the product, including estrogen and/or progestin
  • Undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding

Is it OK to ECs repeatedly?
Yes! However, ECs are less effective at preventing pregnancy than other hormonal birth control methods. For the best pregnancy prevention, regular use of birth control is recommended.

When can I begin my birth control pills after I take ECs?
Ideally, as soon as possible after EC. We can help you get on the method that's right for you.

Will the ECs affect my ability to get pregnant in the future?
No, ECs do not affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.

If I take it and I am already pregnant will it hurt the pregnancy?
If you are already pregnant, there is no documentation that EC will harm the fetus.

Remember: EC does not cause an abortion.