Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
Types of Emergency Contraception (EC):
The three main and most effective forms of emergency contraception are the IUD, Ella (pill) and Levonorgestrel pill (Plan B or other over the counter pills). The IUD is the most effective and also serves as a long term reversible form of birth control. Ella is a single pill that requires a prescription and is more effective than the over-the-counter options and can be covered by your insurance.
Emergency contraception (excluding the IUD as it is also a reliable form of preventative birth control) is not as effective as other forms of hormonal birth control. When taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it is 89% effective compared to birth control pills, which have over a 99% effectiveness. The effectiveness of emergency contraception is dependent on how soon after sex it is taken and does not change with repeated use. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29036770)
Comparing Long Term Effects of Repeatedly Using EC and BC:
Birth control is called a lifestyle drug for a reason. Birth control regulates your period or can even completely turn it off (#PeriodFreeSummer). It can also help clear skin and reduce symptoms of PMS, like cramping and bloating, in addition to preventing pregnancy. Emergency contraception is not a lifestyle drug. This is because it can cause nausea, stomach pain, headaches, and even make your next period irregular, making it come earlier or later than usual. Although there have been no longer term health problems associated with the repeated use of EC, the pill changes hormone levels dramatically and causes irregular periods and discomfort.
Birth control pills are far less expensive, available at Pandia Health starting as low as $15 per month for a generic pill pack. Emergency contraception starts at $35 per pill. If you are using emergency contraception as your primary method of birth control, you will be paying this price each time you have unprotected sex.
Both are covered by insurance when prescribed. If you do not have insurance, the cost difference is very significant. Pandia Health takes almost all insurance except for Kaiser. Sign up for an online prescription with FREE delivery!
The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.