Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) may be used after sex when a method of birth control failed or was not used to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

You may need EC if:

  • Sex was unplanned, unintended, or unwanted
  • Contraceptives were not used, failed, or were used incorrectly (missed birth control pills, late for Depo Provera injection, condom broke or slipped off)
  • Nuva Ring diaphragm or IUD slipped out of place

Columbia University students can obtain Plan B or Ella directly at Medical Services. Students can utilize same-day walk-in service in John Jay Hall or make an appointment by calling (212) 854-7426 or online at https://secure.health.columbia.edu for Medical Services provider. After-hours, students may call (212) 854-7426 for medical advice.

The cost of Plan B or Ella is no additional cost to Columbia students who have paid the Columbia Health fee. The cost of this medication is covered by Aetna Student Health in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Other insurance plan may require a co-payment or not cover Emergency Contraception.

About Plan B

Plan B One-Step and the generic one-pill Emergency Contraception (EC) formulations are now available without a prescription or any age limitations. One-pill EC is most effective if taken as soon as possible within 72 hours after sex, though there may continue to be some benefit up to 120 hours (5 days) after sex. If emergency contraception has been provided in the two-pill formulation, the first pill is taken as soon as possible and the second pill is taken 12 hours later.

If you are away from the Morningside campus, you can also find one-pill EC, such as Plan B, on-the-shelf at many drugstores and pharmacies and proof-of-age is not required at time of purchase. The cost for EC varies; local pharmacies charge between $31.00 - $50.00. Emergency contraception is also available for free, 24 hours a day at any public hospital within the five boroughs of New York City.

About Ella

At the time of the visit it may be determined, based on one’s history, that another method of emergency contraception is indicated. The emergency contraception medication, Ella, is another option which always requires a prescription. At Medical Services, this will be dispensed by a health care provider.

Other EC Options

Several levonorgestrel-containing brands of combined hormonal birth control pills may be used in different doses as emergency contraception.

The non-hormonal (copper) IUD may be used as an emergency contraception if placed within 5 days of unprotected sex and requires insertion by a skilled practitioner. 

For more information, please contact Medical Services about your options.



Do I need an appointment for emergency contraception?

Visit Medical Services during hours of operation if you need emergency contraception immediately or schedule a same day appointment with a Medical Services provider. Most emergency contraception must be started within 72 hours.

Last updated April 19, 2016