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How long after having sex does emergency contraception work?

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That depends. Plan B One-Step and generic levonorgestrel work best if you take them within 3 days after sex, but they may work up to 5 days after sex. Ella and the IUD can work up to 5 days after sex. However, those are only averages. What really matters is where you are in your cycle. If you have sex when you're fertile, waiting several days to take emergency contraception could be too late. That's why experts say you should use it as soon as possible after having sex.

From: Emergency Contraception FAQ WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Society for Emergency Contraception: "The Cost of Emergency Contraception: Results from a Nationwide Survey."

Anne Elizabeth Burke, MD, associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics, director of family planning, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Kelly Cleland, MPA, MPH, researcher, Office of Population Research, Princeton University.

FamilyDoctor: "Emergency Contraception."

Alexandra Gold, MD, fellow in family planning, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

HealthyChildren.org: "Emergency Contraception."

Office of Population Research at Princeton University: The Emergency Contraception Web Site: " Emergency Contraceptive Pills;" "Progestin-only Emergency Contraceptive Pills;" "Safety;" "Side Effects;" and "Types of Emergency Contraception."

UpToDate: "Emergency Contraception."

Healthy Canadians web site.

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on January 23, 2018

SOURCES:

American Society for Emergency Contraception: "The Cost of Emergency Contraception: Results from a Nationwide Survey."

Anne Elizabeth Burke, MD, associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics, director of family planning, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Kelly Cleland, MPA, MPH, researcher, Office of Population Research, Princeton University.

FamilyDoctor: "Emergency Contraception."

Alexandra Gold, MD, fellow in family planning, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

HealthyChildren.org: "Emergency Contraception."

Office of Population Research at Princeton University: The Emergency Contraception Web Site: " Emergency Contraceptive Pills;" "Progestin-only Emergency Contraceptive Pills;" "Safety;" "Side Effects;" and "Types of Emergency Contraception."

UpToDate: "Emergency Contraception."

Healthy Canadians web site.

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on January 23, 2018

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Where can I get emergency contraception?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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