Due to recent changes, this FAQ is under review and may not be as accurate.
There are lots of different kinds of morning after pills. You might see emergency contraception, or EC, under these names:
- Plan B
- Option 2
- Next Choice
- Contingency One
- Backup Plan One-Step
EC helps when a condom broke, a kind of birth control didn’t work, you had sex without birth control, or you faced non-consensual sex.
Morning after pills are more effective the earlier you use them. They work best within the first 24 hours after semen got in the vagina. EC pills can help lower your risk for pregnancy if you take them within 5 days.
There are two different types of morning after pills. The copper IUD can also be used as emergency contraception. Effectiveness, cost, side affects, and ease of access are all reasons you might want to consider when you pick between Plan B, ella, and the copper IUD.
How do morning after pills work?
Pregnancy doesn’t often happen right after sex. If someone ejaculates inside your vagina, their sperm can live for up to 6 days inside your body. If your body releases an egg (ovulates) in that time, the sperm can meet the egg and pregnancy can start. Morning after pills stop the body from releasing an egg, so the sperm have nothing to meet.
It’s important to know that a morning after pill isn’t an abortion pill. It won’t work if you’re already pregnant or you already ovulated. It also doesn’t protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How do I get Plan B or Option 2?
You can get emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B and Option 2 without a prescription at pharmacies in Quebec. But, you need to have a consultation with the pharmacist if you don’t have a prescription.
In the consultation, the pharmacist may ask about your last menstrual cycle, when you had sex, and what the situation was. The pharmacist can decide not to give you the pill if you had unprotected sex more than 5 days before, or if you recently had your period. If you disagree with a pharmacist and think you’re at risk and it would help, you can try another pharmacy or go to a youth-friendly clinic like Head and Hands.
How much does it cost?
The cost of this pill depends on the pharmacy and the brand. It has two associated costs:
- A ‘consultation fee’, where the pharmacist sees if you need the pill. You don’t have to pay this fee if you get a prescription from a doctor or nurse before. If you have a valid Quebec health card (RAMQ), this consultation is free. If not, the consultation costs around $10-30.
- The cost of the emergency contraception pill itself. This is about 30$. The the provincial Public Prescription Insurance and some private insurance plans can cover part or all of this cost. Emergency contraception, including Plan B and Option 2, is covered by RAMQ’s Free Access To Prescription Drugs program as well. That means that if you have a RAMQ card but not the public drug plan, you can still go to a pharmacy and get it for free.
What if I’m a student?
Plan B is typically covered by student health insurance plans like Blue Cross or Student Care. You can check by calling them.
How do I get Ella?
Ella is only available with a prescription from a doctor or nurse. You can call 811 to find the nearest CLSC with drop-in times, so you can get a prescription in a few hours.
After that, you can go to a pharmacy to pick it up. It typically costs more than Plan B, and can be as much as $90. But the Public Drug Plan and many other insurances cover at least part of the cost. Emergency contraception, including Ella, is covered by RAMQ’s Free Access To Prescription Drugs program as well. That means that if you have a RAMQ card but not the public drug plan, you can still go to a pharmacy and get it for free.
Ella lowers your risk of pregnancy more than Plan B, particularly if it’s been closer to 5 days since you had sex or if you have a BMI over 25.
Other options besides the morning after pill
If you’ve already started ovulating, or it’s been over 5 days since you’ve had sex, another emergency contraception option is the copper IUD. Doctors can insert it into the uterus up to 7 days after sperm got in the vagina, and it stops them from swimming up to the egg. It’s also very effective a kind of birth control. It lowers your risk for pregnancy by over 99% for up to 10 years.
You need a prescription for an IUD and a doctor needs to insert it. This can make it hard to get on short notice. Even though it’s still effective later on, it’s best to start making calls early. Some clinics also need to run an STI test first.
If you didn’t take the morning after pill or get a copper IUD, you can take a pregnancy test to know whether or not you’re pregnant. Pregnancy tests are most accurate when taken after you’ve missed your period.