Birth control is highly effective when used as directed. However, sometimes people forget, or barrier contraceptives might break. Many women who are victims of sexual assault weren’t given the chance to use birth control. When that happens, women might choose to take emergency contraception to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. A CDC study from 2006 through 2010 found that 11 percent or 5 million women ages 15-44 took an emergency contraceptive and 23 percent of those were ages 20 through 24. There are several types of products which are: Paragard (a copper IUD), Ella (ulipristal acetate), or Plan B-One Step. Read on to learn more about these top emergency contraceptives.

Top 3 Emergency Contraception Options

  • Paragard- Copper IUD
  • Ella- Ulipristal Acetate
  • Plan B One Step


Paragard is a copper-bearing intrauterine device and has been regarded as the most effective form of emergency contraception by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When inserted by a doctor within five days it can be used as emergency contraception. Paragard is a T-shaped device made of soft, flexible rubber and copper. It has 176 mg of copper wire on the vertical stem and 68.7 on each horizontal arm and is completely hormone free. It works by making sperm less effective in fertilizing an egg and can last for up to ten years. It may not be a good choice if a woman does not want to deal with a form of birth control that long term. Paragard can be removed when a woman wants to become pregnant. The main side effects are heavier and longer cycles and spotting between periods. Most women see a decrease in symptoms after a few months. Paragard should not be used if a woman has a pelvic infection, gets infections easily, or has certain cancers. It may not be the easiest option because it requires a visit to the doctor, but it is a good option for many.


  • Most Effective Option
  • Lasts for 10 Years
  • Requires a Visit to the Doctor

Ella-Ulipristal Acetate

Ulipristal Acetate is sold under the name Ella in the United States and is sold under the name Ella One in Europe with a prescription from a doctor. It typically comes in one 30mg oral pill and is the combination of several ingredients. Ella is a steroid based and also contains ulipristal acetate, and synthetic progesterone. It also contains lactose monohydrate, povidone K-30, croscarmellose sodium and magnesium and works. It works best when taken within five days after unprotected sex and can be taken with or without food. It works by preventing ovulation. When taken as directed Ella is said to be more effective than progestin-only emergency contraception options. Ella is not a good choice if a woman is already pregnant. If women are allergic to any of the ingredients she should not risk taking this medication. Other medications may interact with this Ella so it is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication. It does not come without side effects and women may experience: headache, nausea, menstrual pain, fatigue, and dizziness.


  • More Effective than Progestin-Only
  • Single Dose Pill
  • Prescription Required

Plan B-One Step

Plan B-One Step is the brand name of one of the more popular levonorgestrel-only emergency contraceptive products. It also contains several other ingredients. It is a steroid based product and also contains colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, potato starch, and silk. Plan B-One Step comes in a single dose pill and is sold over the counter. It works best when taken within three days of unprotected sex and is said to be 89% effective. It works by stopping or delaying ovulation. Plan B-One Step is not a good choice for women who are already pregnant. If women are allergic to any of the ingredients they should avoid this product. Other medications may interact so women should consult their doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication. Side effects include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fatigue, dizziness, and/or a delayed, or heavy cycle.


  • Take Within 3 Days
  • Over the Counter
  • Single Dose


It is natural to forget some things because we are so busy. When they forget their pill or a condom women can choose between Paragard, Ella or Plan B-One Step.