Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) is used to prevent pregnancy after known or suspected unprotected sexual intercourse. Previously, the Yuzpe regimen, named after Alfred Yuzpe who discovered it in 1974, using ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel, was a widely used EC option for women. This regimen had an increased risk of side effects and no difference in efficacy compared to the use of levonorgestrel alone; thus, it is no longer marketed for this use. Plan B is an FDA-approved emergency contraceptive currently available. With this formulation, patients take one tablet of 0.75 mg levonorgestrel within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse and then a second dose 12 hours later. In 2009, the FDA approved Plan B for nonprescription sale to patients 17 years of age and older. It is important to note that EC is more effective the earlier it is used after unprotected intercourse. This progestin-only formulation has shown decreased risk of side effects such as nausea and vomiting compared to the Yuzpe method, which decreases the risk of EC failure.

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