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Emergency Contraception

Plan B, the brand name for emergency contraception (EC) is now available "over-the-counter".  Women (and men) age 18 and over can purchase Plan B at any pharmacy that carries it.  Purchasers must have a government-issued ID card with their date of birth (such as a driver’s license or passport).  Your UVa Student ID is not valid for this purpose. 

For UVa women students who have not yet reached their 18th birthday, a prescription is required.  You can obtain a prescription during the hours that Student Health is open by calling 924-2773 and stating your request.  If you are an established patient in any clinical area of Student Health, the prescription can be provided over the phone.  If you have never been seen by a clinician in Student Health, however, you must come in for a brief appointment.  An exam is not required.

After hours and on weekends, UVa women students under age 18 can call 972-7004 and talk with the on-call triage nurse.  The nurse will determine whether you are eligible for a telephone prescription or will help you obtain timely access to EC by either recommending an urgent care clinic, or suggesting a visit to Student Health as soon at we re-open.

Prescriptions are provided only for currently enrolled UVa women students under the age of 18.  We are not able to provide prescriptions for underage friends who may be visiting UVa. 

For questions or concerns about emergency (or other) contraception, please call 924-2773.

Remember: Plan B is not as effective as other methods of contraception. It should be a back-up, not a substitute, for your regular contraception or "Plan A"!

Instructions for Emergency Contraception
(Plan B - Progestin only)

If you have decided that emergency contraception (Plan B) is appropriate for your circumstances, it is important to follow the instructions below:

There is one pill in the Plan B pack. The sooner you take this medication after the episode of unprotected intercourse, the more effective it will be.  Ideally it should be taken within 3 days (72 hours) after the episode of unprotected intercourse, but there may be some effect even if it is delayed for up to two days longer.

  1. The most common side effects reported with Plan B include:

    • nausea
    • dizziness
    • abdominal pain
    • breast tenderness
    • tiredness
    • vomiting
    • headache
    • diarrhea

    These side effects are usually mild.

  2. Your next menstrual period may start a few days earlier or later than usual, and menstrual bleeding may be heavier or lighter than usual after taking Plan B.

    If you have not had a period within 3 weeks after taking Plan B, you should have a pregnancy test.

  3. The Plan B emergency contraceptive only protects you for one episode of unprotected intercourse and is not designed to be used as a routine method of birth control. Because Plan B may delay ovulation, having unprotected intercourse again during the week after taking this medication may result in an increased risk of becoming pregnant. We strongly urge you to consider using a regular birth control method.

  4. If you have questions, concerns, or need additional information, please contact Student Health Gyn Clinic at 924-2773.

According to scientific evidence, emergency contraception is effective in most situations because it prevents or delays ovulation. However when it is taken shortly after ovulation, it may still work - but the mechanism of action is unclear. 
Some experts think it may work under those circumstances by preventing fertilization or by preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum into the uterine lining. No one knows for sure.

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