Emergency Contraception / Morning-After Pill

Emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion is designed for exact­ly that – an emer­gency. Although some­times called the morn­ing after pill,’ it actu­al­ly is a set of pills that you take with­in 72 hours after hav­ing sex where the pro­tec­tion failed (e.g. the con­dom broke) or wasn’t used. It pre­vents preg­nan­cy by tem­porar­i­ly delay­ing the pro­duc­tion of eggs by the ovaries (ovu­la­tion), stop­ping fer­til­iza­tion, or stop­ping a fer­til­ized egg from implant­i­ng in the uter­ine wall.

There are a cou­ple dif­fer­ent meth­ods available:

  • Plan B® and Nor­Le­vo® are two dif­fer­ent brands that have 2 prog­estin tablets.
  • A series of birth con­trol pills called the Yuzpe method.’ The pills have to con­tain enough estro­gen (100 µg) and prog­estin (lev­onorgestrel 1.5 mg) to work, so you should check the pack­age of pills you have for the dos­es. If you’re still not sure, you can ask the per­son who pre­scribes or pro­vides your pills to fig­ure out the dose. The Yuzpe method should only be used if no Plan B/​NorLevo is avail­able, because it may be less effec­tive and caus­es more side effects.

It doesn’t require a pre­scrip­tion. You can get it at a health care provider’s office, clin­ic, or over-the-counter at a phar­ma­cy. Some phar­ma­cies refuse to car­ry it, and some oth­ers that do car­ry it can be judg­men­tal about hand­ing it over. Not all phar­ma­cies are like this, though.

You may want to have some emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion with you before you need it. That way, if your con­dom breaks, your usu­al method of birth con­trol fails, or if you had sex with­out con­doms, you will already have it on hand.

How to use it

It con­sists of pills that you either take togeth­er right away or 12 hours apart.


The soon­er you take the pills, the more chance that they’ll work. Emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion reduces the risk of preg­nan­cy by up to 85%. It can be tak­en up to 5 days after sex, but is way more effec­tive when it’s tak­en soon­er than that.


A good last-ditch choice to avoid pregnancy.


The most com­mon side effect is nau­sea, which can be alle­vi­at­ed with anti-nau­sea pills. If you throw up with­in one hour of tak­ing both or one of the pills, buy anoth­er pack and start again. Oth­er side effects include cramps, fatigue, dizzi­ness, ten­der breasts and vagi­nal spot­ting. Plus, be pre­pared to stay calm just in case you get judg­men­tal behav­iour by the sell­er. Remem­ber that get­ting emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion can be bet­ter for you than not get­ting it.

Cost and coverage

The morn­ing-after pill is cov­ered by most pri­vate health insur­ance plans, but you should know that if you use your parent’s drug plan, they may be able to see that infor­ma­tion. It is also cov­ered by:

  • EIA/​social assistance
  • FNI­HB (First Nations sta­tus) – You can call 2049838886 to make sure no one else can see your prescriptions.
  • Man­i­to­ba Phar­ma­care – If you have a Man­i­to­ba Health card and have no oth­er cov­er­age, there’s a good chance you can apply for Phar­ma­care to cov­er a good por­tion of your drug costs. Click here for more information.

If you don’t have any cov­er­age, you may be able to get emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion for free from your health care provider’s office or clin­ic, or you can call Women’s Health Clin­ic (2049471517) for infor­ma­tion on their free/low-cost birth con­trol pro­gram. Oth­er­wise, the cost to just pur­chase the morn­ing-after pill over the counter is gen­er­al­ly around $20 and $40 in Winnipeg.*

* This infor­ma­tion is up-to-date as of 2019.