Getting a Morning After Pill like Plan B in Montreal


Getting a Morning After Pill like Plan B in Montreal

The morning after pill is sometimes also called emergency contraception, or “EC”. There are many different kinds of emergency contraception! Just some of the different brands include:

  • Plan B
  • Option 2 (not available in Canada)
  • Contingency One
  • Backup Plan One-Step
  • Ella

EC (emergency contraception) helps prevent pregnancy when a condom breaks, or if another kind of birth control (like a diaphragm) fails. It’s also often used when someone has sex without birth control, or in cases of sexual assault.

It’s important to know that morning-after pills are more effective the earlier you use them. They work best within the first 24 hours after semen gets in the vagina.

Some types of EC pills, like Plan B, can help lower your risk for pregnancy if you take them within 5 days. Other types of emergency contraceptives should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Be sure to ask the Pharmacist or Doctor which option is right for your situation!

The copper IUD can also be used as emergency contraception. Effectiveness, cost, side effects, and ease of access are all reasons you might want to consider when you pick between Plan B, ella, or the copper IUD.

How do morning after pills work?

Pregnancy doesn’t often happen right after sex. If someone ejaculates inside someone else’s vagina, the sperm can live for up to 5 days inside the body. If the 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 ovulating (releasing the 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?

You can get the emergency contraceptive pill, Plan B, without a prescription at pharmacies in Quebec. But, if you don’t have a prescription, you will need to have a consultation with a pharmacist. This will cost you a fee if you don’t have RAMQ (Quebec provincial insurance).

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 for pregnancy, 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:

  1. A ‘consultation fee’ at the pharmacy, where the pharmacist will ask you a couple of questions about your situation. 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 $10-30.
  2. The cost of the emergency contraception itself. This is about 30$-40$. Some private or provincial insurance plans may 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. 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 in Quebec.

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 (active ingredient ulipristal acetate) is a newer morning-after pill that can be taken longer after unprotected sex than Plan B. It can be taken up to 5 days after the sex happens. Ella is currently only available with a prescription from a doctor or nurse. You can call 811 to find the nearest CLSC with drop-in times which allows you to usually 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. Fortunately, like other EC, the RAMQ Public Drug Plan covers the cost of Ella. 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 with a prescription. Many other private or provincial insurance may also cover at least part of the cost.

Ella lowers your risk of pregnancy more than Plan B and is more effective for people who weigh more than 65kg/165lbs.

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 a very effective 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 or gynecologist 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.

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