Informational Resources

Preventing Pregnancy & Emergency Contraception (EC or the Morning After Pill)

Plan B (Emergency Contraception) is now over-the-counter. What Hawai‘i consumers need to know – Plan B was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale over-the-counter in pharmacies. Here are some answers to questions you might have about getting Plan B.

List of Birth Control Methods

Birth Control Implant (Implanon and Nexplanon)
Birth Control Patch (Ortho Evra)
Birth Control Pills
Birth Control Shot (Depo-Provera)
Birth Control Sponge (Today Sponge)
Birth Control Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)
Breastfeeding as Birth Control
Cervical Cap (FemCap)
Female Condom
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FAMs)
Morning-After Pill (Emergency Contraception)
Sterilization for Women
Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)

People have used birth control methods for thousands of years. Today, we have many safe and effective birth control methods available to us.
All of us who need birth control want to find the method that is best for us. And each of us has different needs when choosing a method. If you are trying to choose, learning about each method may help you make your decision. 
Only you can decide what is best for you. And we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can discuss all of your birth control options with you and help you get the birth control you need.

What is Plan B?

Plan B will be available in pharmacies but will be kept behind the pharmacist’s counter and not on store shelves. Plan B will only be available for purchase during pharmacy hours.

  • Plan B DOES NOT prevent HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Plan B WILL NOT cause an abortion. It is not the abortion pill RU-486. Plan B will not work if you are already pregnant from a previous sexual encounter.

When Emergency Contraception Should be Used

Emergency contraception (EC) should be used if you had sex, you don’t want to get pregnant, and:

  • You didn’t use birth control.
  • The condom broke or slipped off.
  • You missed taking two or more birth control pills or you are two or more days late starting your pack.
  • You were late for your Depo-Provera® shot, new Ortho Evra® Patch, or new NuvaRing®.
  • Your partner did not pull out in time.
  • You were raped.

Emergency Contraception is NOT the Abortion Pill

Emergency contraception is not the abortion pill (which is also known as RU-486 or Mifeprex). Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion. Emergency contraception will not work if you are already pregnant and will not harm a pregnancy or the fetus.

Protect Yourself

If you had unprotected sex or your contraceptive method failed, it is important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections, too. You can get tested at your doctor’s office or at a county health department, STI clinic or family planning clinic.

Soon After Unprotected Sex You Can Still Prevent Pregnancy

If you very recently had unprotected sex or your birth control method failed, you should strongly consider taking emergency contraception if you want to prevent a pregnancy.

Emergency Contraception, also known as EC or the “morning after pill,” is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy up to five days (120 hours) AFTER unprotected sex or birth control failure. Plan B® is the brand name of the EC pills.

  • EC, when used within five days of unprotected sex, can significantly reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy.
  • EC is a higher dosage of the same hormones found in birth control pills. EC is a safe method of pregnancy prevention, even for women who have been advised not to take birth control pills on an ongoing basis.
  • EC is NOT the same thing as the abortion pill (Mifeprex or RU-486). EC will not terminate an existing pregnancy. EC will not work if a woman is already pregnant.
  • EC is less effective than regular birth control, like condoms or birth control pills used before or during sex, so you should not use EC as your regular form of birth control.
  • EC does not protect against sexually transmitted infections such as HIV or AIDS so you should use condoms every time you have sex


EC is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex but is most effective within three days. The sooner you take EC, the more effective it is, so don’t wait!

Take EC as soon as possible after having unprotected sex.

Understanding the Various Birth Control Methods

Contraceptive Methods Are Not Abortion Methods

Anti-choice activists often falsely assert that contraceptive methods work as abortifacients. All of the birth control methods listed above work by either preventing fertilization or ovulation, not by causing an abortion. Academic medicine confirms that preventing fertilization or ovulation does not qualify as abortion.