Emergency contraception basic information
Originally Published: March 6, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 16, 2013
My boyfriend and I had sex last night and we saw that the condom had broke. We don't know when it happened and I've been looking all over for the 72 hour correction thing that the commercials say — just in case. Can you help me?
It sounds like you're searching for emergency contraception (EC), which can help to prevent a pregnancy after unprotected sex. The toll-free phone number for the Emergency Contraception Hotline, from anywhere in the United States, is 1.888-NOT-2-LATE. They can help you find EC in your area. You can use EC within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse, though it's recommended to take EC as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse for greatest effectiveness.
Currently, in the United States, there are different regulations on how to purchase different types of EC and it can be slightly confusing. Always call the pharmacy or drug store first to see which types of EC are available. In the US, one brand of EC, Plan B One-Step, is available on-the-shelf (you don't have to ask a pharmacist) and without age restrictions to women and men without a prescription. This means that anyone can buy it without having to show an ID. Just walk into a drugstore and check the family planning aisle. The cost is usually between $40 and $50, but differs depending on location. There are generic options of EC that are cheaper ($35-$45); however, you must be 17 or older to puchase these.
If Plan B One-Step is too expensive for you, you may want to find a family planning clinic, such as Planned Parenthood, that offers EC for a reduced rate. It also might be a good idea to stock up on extra EC, that way you have it on-hand if you need it. If you are a Columbia student, give Medical Services a call at 212-854-7426 (Morningside) or 212-305-3400 (CUMC) — they can help you obtain EC.
Best of luck!