For the first time ever, women in British Columbia can take emergency contraception without a prescription, a stark change in the drug’s 30-year availability with a prescription.
Emergency contraception involves taking two doses of birth control pills 12 hours apart within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. The pills contain estrogen and progesterone, hormones that prevent the implantation of fertilized eggs and induce menstruation, and are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Doctors recommend taking anti-nausea medication to counter common side effects such as nausea, vomiting and breast pain.
Emergency contraception is available in the United States with a prescription, except in Washington state where it is available through pharmacists without a prescription. Many European countries offer emergency contraception without a prescription. In France legislation has been drafted to overturn a high administrative court ruling that forbids the distribution of emergency contraception in schools.