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Emergency Contraception

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception (EC), sometimes referred to as "the morning after pill", is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse (such as sex without contraception, or when a contraceptive fails).  EC contains the same hormones used in birth control pills. The most widely used formulation of EC is sold under the brand name "Plan B".  Each package of Plan B contains two hormone tablets that are taken 12 hours apart.

How does emergency contraception work?

The hormones in EC pills work by preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation) and by thickening the cervical mucus, which interferes with the ability of sperm to reach an egg that might already have been released.  Emergency contraception is a form of birth control; it is not an abortion pill and cannot trigger an abortion.

How effective is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is quite effective.  Although it can be used up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected intercourse, the sooner it is started, the more likely it is to be effective.  If started within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, it is 89% effective; only 1 out of 100 women will become pregnant after using emergency contraception during that time period.  Of course emergency contraception doesn't protect against sexually transmitted diseases.  Also, it shouldn't be used as a form of ongoing birth control as there are other forms of birth control that are more effective.  If you take EC and your period is a week late you should follow up with a pregnancy test.

How safe is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is very safe.  It has been used for more than 30 years, and during that time, no serious complications have been reported.  The most common side effect is nausea, which usually goes away within 24 hours.  Also, if used frequently it may cause menstrual periods to become irregular.  If you use EC and are concerned about any symptoms you experience, contact a provider at the Health Center at 617-521-1002. You will be able to reach a provider even when the Health Center is closed.

How can I get emergency contraception?

The Simmons Health Center offers emergency contraception.  Call during our hours of operation for an appointment.  If you are a Simmons undergraduate or graduate student living on campus, EC is free of charge, as your visit is covered by the student health fee paid by all undergraduates (not including Dix scholars), and graduate students living on campus. If you are a Dix Scholar, a graduate student who has not paid the health fee or a student of SMFA, you will be asked to pay at the time of  your appointment.

If you need emergency contraception during a time the Health Center is closed or if you are away from campus, you can purchase emergency contraception without a prescription at any Massachusetts pharmacy if you are 18 years of age or older.  EC will not be on the shelves; go to the pharmacy window and request EC.  To ensure that you are over 18 years of age, the pharmacist will ask you to show an ID that includes your date of birth.   The charge for EC at most local pharmacies is about $48.00.

For more information about emergency contraception or to make a Health Center appointment, please feel free to contact us at (617-521-1002).  The following websites also contain additional information about emergency contraception:


Call ahead to make an appointment. Same day appointments are available for urgent care.

During the academic year, the Health Center is open during the following hours:

Monday - Friday:
9:00am to 5:00pm

Closed Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays

To contact a health provider after hours for urgent care call Simmons Public Safety at 617-521-1112

Call the Health Center for hours during vacations and holidays, and during the summer months


Residence Campus
Health Center
94 Pilgrim Road
Boston, MA 02215


Phone: 617-521-1002

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