You wake up the next day and think - Oops! Then OH NO! You skipped more than two of your birth control pills this month, or the condom broke, or you weren't "supposed" to be having sex at all...
Take a deep breath and don't panic. Luckily in Ontario emergency contraception is widely available and you have options. One of the most popular choices is the Morning After Pill, or Plan B. This pill contains a single high dose of Progestin, which is a medication that is also found in the birth control pill. It can prevent an unwanted pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex, and is available over the counter at the pharmacy. Also, if you are 24 years old or younger then it is covered by the OHIP+ drug benefits program, so it is free with an Ontario health card.
The easiest option might be to take a higher than normal dose of your current birth control pill, known at the Yuzpe method. You need to take two doses of treatment: 100mcg of estrogen and 500mcg of progestin, spaced twelve hours apart. Depending on the dose of medication in your oral contraceptive, that may be between two to five pills for each dose. Taking this many birth control pills all at once has some unpleasant side effects, including nausea and vomiting, headache and dizziness. This method is suggested for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. You may want to consult with a health care provider before trying the Yuzpe method, to ensure that you are taking the right dose.
Another method of emergency contraception that also provides long-term birth control is the Copper IUD. The Copper IUD is a T-shaped device that sits in the uterine cavity and prevents a pregnancy from getting established. It is safe and effective even if you have never had a baby before. It prevents pregnancy for up to seven days after unprotected sex, and can also provide five years or more of birth control.
The Copper IUD is very safe and highly effective - it prevents 99% of unwanted pregnancies. However if you have an allergy to copper, unexplained vaginal bleeding, or a very distorted uterus (i.e. very large fibroids) then the Copper IUD is not right for you.
At Bloor West Village Women's Clinic we do IUD insertions. The Copper IUD is a device and is not covered by OHIP+, however we sell them on site at our clinic, and will do a same day assessment and IUD insertion. We also screen you for sexually transmitted infections so that you can be treated if necessary.
[Unfortunately the hormonal IUDs - Mirena, Jaydess and Kyleena - cannot be used for emergency contraception. The progestin in the IUDs will not prevent a new pregnancy from implanting in the uterus. However we do insert these IUDs for birth control and will write you a prescription as well.]
If it is too late for emergency contraception - or if you tried some and it didn't work - then you may be pregnant. Take a deep breath and don't panic. You have some time to consider your options, but if you do decide to terminate your pregnancy then we can offer you either a medical or surgical abortion at our clinic. If you are interested in an appointment, or if you want to learn more, then please contact us. We are here to help.