Health Topics

Emergency Contraception

There are two methods of emergency contraception available:

  • Emergency Contraceptive Pill
  • Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Emergency Copper IUD:

A copper IUD is a non-hormonal birth control method that can be inserted into your uterus within 5 days after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.  It is a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T that has copper wrapped around it.  A copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception available and once inserted, it can provide ongoing birth control and protection from further pregnancy for up to 5 years. 

A copper IUD can prevent an unwanted pregnancy by: 

  • Changing the way sperm cells move so they can’t swim to an egg (ovum) for fertilization.  If sperm can’t swim to an ovum, pregnancy can’t happen
  • Altering the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg (ovum).

The Emergency Contraceptive Pill

The Emergency Contraceptive Pill is also known as ECP, the Morning After Pill or Plan B or ella™. ECP is used after sex to prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation (release of an egg).  If ovulation has already occurred in a menstrual cycle, ECP will not be effective.

  • It can be taken up to 5 days after having sex.
  • The sooner it is taken, the better it works.

ECP can prevent an unplanned pregnancy when:

  • No birth control was used
  • Birth control pills, patch or ring were not used as intended (for ex., you missed taking your pill for three days)
  • The condom slipped, broke or leaked
  • The diaphragm or cervical cap dislodged during sexual intercourse or was removed too early
  • There is a calculation error for the fertile period (when ovulation is most likely to occur)
  • A sexual assault occurred; non-consensual sex

ECP does not provide ongoing birth control.  Once taken, ECP will not protect you from further pregnancy risks in the same menstrual cycle.  Use condoms or abstain until your next period to prevent further pregnancy risks.  Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about birth control options. 

ECP may be less effective in women:

  • weighing ≥ 154 lbs (69.85 kg)
  • with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 35 kg/m2

Where to get emergency contraception

Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP)

You do not need a prescription to get ECP.  You can get ECP from:

You can also pay for ECP (Plan B) over the counter at a pharmacy. Plan B is covered by OHIP plus for those 24 and under without other coverage and with a prescription. 

Emergency Copper IUD

You will need a prescription to get an Emergency Copper IUD. 

  • Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about getting a prescription and referral for an Emergency Copper IUD.
  • A prescription and referral for an Emergency Copper IUD is available through our Sexual Health Clinics


Contact us

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