Emergency Contraception

What is it?

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Emergency contraception (EC) is also known as the "morning-after pill." EC is a hormonal medication taken after unprotected sex to reduce the possibility of pregnancy. EC can be used when a condom breaks or another BC method does not work successfully, after a sexual assault, or when unprotected intercourse occurs. This method is not 100% effective, and pregnancy can still occur. EC is not an abortion pill and will not interfere with an existing pregnancy.


  • EC's are most effective within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex occurs.

  • EC is available "over-the-counter", which means you can purchase it at a store/pharmacy without a prescription from a healthcare provider.

How Does It Work?

Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP) contain a high dose of the same hormones used in oral contraceptives or birth control pills. Depending on when taken in the menstrual cycle, ECP's can affect several processes. ECP may delay or inhibit ovulation, alter egg and sperm joining (fertilization), and/or alter the lining of the uterus which can inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg.


  • The exact mechanism of action is unclear, but we do know that this method is not 100% effective, should not be used as the main form of birth control, and does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

  • If you are on birth control and are taking it correctly; meaning you have a Nexplanon implant, an IUD, pills, or depo provera injection and are on time, you may not need Plan B. If you are unsure if you should take Plan B, please call a provider or a pharmacist to discuss if you should take this medication.

Types of Emergency Contraception available and how to obtain:

Plan B

Must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. This is NOT a prescription and is available at SHS only during normal business hours without an appt. This is available as a generic medication.

Visit Student Health Services (SHS) during business hours.

  • Come to SHS front desk and let the receptionist know you need to purchase Plan B. You will be required to show ID, then the generic form of Plan B will be given to you discreetly at the front desk. Your account will be billed for the medication. No appointment is necessary.

You will need to go to your local pharmacy (e.g; CVS, Walgreens, Walmart) to purchase Plan B if you can not wait until the SHS clinic reopens. SHS cannot sell plan B when the office is closed. You DO NOT need a prescription to purchase Plan B at any store, go to the pharmacist area and ask for it. There are local 24-hour pharmacies if you need them after your regular pharmacy has closed.

  • You can purchase the generic version of this medication for a lower cost which can range from $11-40 depending on the pharmacy you choose. Ask for the generic form of Plan B.


May be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. This is only available by PRESCRIPTION ONLY by a healthcare provider. If you are in the 72-hour window, consider taking Plan B instead - if you are unsure what to do go talk to the pharmacist or call a healthcare provider.

Students who need to obtain ELLA can call and make a same-day appt. at Student Health Services (SHS) to get a prescription filled at a local pharmacy. Due to pharmacy dispensing laws, SHS does not stock this medication in the clinic. ELLA must be dispensed by a pharmacy with a prescription, which we can provide.

You may call Student Health Services once we re-open on the next business day since Ella is effective up to 5 days (120hours) after unprotected intercourse. Please call or come into the office as soon as you think you may need this during business hours to avoid delays due to office closure on weekends and/or university holidays.

Click here for more information about Plan B, and click here for additional information regarding Ella.

Schedule an appointment to see an ODU provider, today!

Student Health Services has been accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. (AAAHC) continuously since 1986. This means that Student Health Services is surveyed every three years to determine adherence to ambulatory health care standards as established by AAAHC.