Using the regular pill as emergency contraception

If you have an accident, are raped or just had sex without pregnancy protection, you can easily use the oral contraceptive pill the same way you would use the morning-after emergency contraceptive pills from the doctor or pharmacy.

You may not have any pills to spare, but a friend might. Princeton University (at the bottom of this chart) says:

‘All of the brands listed here may be effective when used within 120 hours after unprotected sex, but should be taken as soon as possible.’
Source: Princeton University

Table 1. Oral contraceptives that can be used for emergency contraception in the United Statesa [and many other countries – check the doses and match them up]

BrandCompanyFirst DosebSecond Doseb
(12 hours later)
Ulipristal Acetate per Dose (mg)Ethinyl Estradiol
per Dose (µg)
Levonorgestrel
per Dose (mg)c
Ulipristal acetate (Dedicated EC pills)
ellaAfaxys1 white pillNoneb30
Progestin-only (Dedicated EC pills)
Plan B One-StepTeva1 white pillNone1.5
Take ActionTeva1 white pillNone1.5
Next Choice One DoseActavis1 peach pillNone1.5
AfterPillSyzygy1 white pillNone1.5
My WayGavis1 white pillNone1.5
Levonorgestrel TabletsPerrigo2 white pillsNoneb1.5
Combined progestin and estrogen pills (Regular oral contraceptive pills)
AltaveraSandoz4 peach pills4 peach pills1200.60
AmethiaWatson4 white pills4 white pills1200.60
Amethia LoWatson5 white pills5 white pills1000.50
AmethystWatson6 white pills6 white pills1200.54
AvianeTeva5 orange pills5 orange pills1000.50
CamreseTeva4 light blue-green pills4 light blue-green pills1200.60
CamreseLoTeva5 orange pills5 orange pills1000.50
CryselleTeva4 white pills4 white pills1200.60
EnpresseTeva4 orange pills4 orange pills1200.50
IntrovaleSandoz4 peach pills4 peach pills1200.60
JolessaTeva4 pink pills4 pink pills1200.60
LessinaTeva5 pink pills5 pink pills1000.50
LevoraWatson4 white pills4 white pills1200.60
Lo/OvralAkrimax4 white pills4 white pills1200.60
LoSeasoniqueTeva5 orange pills5 orange pills1000.50
Low-OgestrelWatson4 white pills4 white pills1200.60
LuteraWatson5 white pills5 white pills1000.50
LybrelWyeth6 yellow pills6 yellow pills1200.54
NordetteTeva4 light-orange pills4 light-orange pills1200.60
OgestrelWatson2 white pills2 white pills1000.50
PortiaTeva4 pink pills4 pink pills1200.60
QuasenseWatson4 white pills4 white pills1200.60
SeasonaleTeva4 pink pills4 pink pills1200.60
SeasoniqueTeva4 light-blue-green pills4 light-blue-green pills1200.60
SronyxWatson5 white pills5 while pills1000.50
TrivoraWatson4 pink pills4 pink pills1200.50

Notes:
a ella, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Take Action are dedicated products specifically marketed for emergency contraception. The regular oral contraceptives listed above have been declared safe and effective for use as ECPs by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Outside the United States, about 100 emergency contraceptive products are specifically packaged, labeled, and marketed. Levonorgestrel-only ECPs are available either over-the-counter or from a pharmacist without having to see a clinician in 60 countries. In the U.S., progestin-only EC, like Plan B One-Step, is available on the shelf with no restrictions. ella is available by prescription only.

b The label for Levonorgestrel Tablets says to take one pill within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, and another pill 12 hours later. However, research has found that both pills can be taken at the same time. All of the brands listed here may be effective when used within 120 hours after unprotected sex, but should be taken as soon as possible.

c The progestin in Cryselle, Lo/Ovral, Low-Ogestrel and Ogestrel is norgestrel, which contains two isomers, only one of which (levonorgestrel) is bioactive; the amount of norgestrel in each tablet is twice the amount of levonorgestrel.