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Emergency Contraception

If you are a female and have had UNPROTECTED intercourse within the past 72 hours, you may be a candidate for Emergency Contraception. The risk of pregnancy from a single act of unprotected MIDCYCLE intercourse is estimated to be approximately 20-30%. At other times during the cycle, it is estimated to be 2-4%.

The medication you will be given is a tablet containing the hormone levonorgestrel. The medication MUST be started within 72 hours of unprotected sex, and the effectivness is higher the sooner it is taken.

The exact mechanism of action of emergency contraception is not known. It is believed that it may act by changing the uterine environment, by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or by suppressing ovulation and causing early onset of the next menses.

Emergency Contraception is available to any student, male or female from the M.S. Shook Student Health Service Pharmacy with a valid AppState student ID. If you have a need for emergency contraception and M.S. Shook Student Health Service will be closed for more than 24 hours or you are not an Appalachian State University student, you may:

  • Call Planned Parenthood® at (866)942-7762 seven days a week
  • Over-the-counter Emergency Contraceptives may be purchased at any retail pharmacy


The risks associated with this medication are the same risks associated with oral contraceptives. Any such risks are extremely remote, considering the very short exposure.

Side Effects

You may have:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Early onset of menses

If you are taking Emergency Contraceptives and have any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider or come to M.S. Shook Student Health Service:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe leg pain
  • Sudden change or loss of vision

Rarely, the use of Emergency Contraceptives could cause the following medical conditions:

  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Liver disorders
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Migraine headaches
  • High blood pressure

Risk of Failure

Although no birth defects have been reported in cases where the ECP hormones have failed and the pregnancy continued to term, there has not been enough births to provide any definite conclusions.

Page content reviewed: 6/04/18 fwg