Free Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception (EC) reduces the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. Common situations in which EC could be used include forgetting to take several birth control pills in a row, having a condom break or slip off, or not using a birth control method during sex.

Free EC @ UMD

What is Free EC @ UMD?

 EC is and has been available in many locations around campus at-cost. Free EC @ UMD is an effort to provide free EC to UMD students over the next two years. 

How is Free EC @ UMD funded?

The Student Government Association (SGA) allocated money to the University Health Center (UHC) exclusively for the purchase of EC to distribute through the UHC Pharmacy at no-cost to students. 

Demonstrated student demand for this product prompted SGA to pilot this project in an effort to reduce any financial barriers to accessing emergency contraception. The current funding from SGA should provide free EC access to students for approximately two years. 

In addition to the free EC, $2 pregnancy tests will be made available so that students who take EC can determine pregnancy status if their period is late after taking the medication. 

 

Where can I get Free EC @ UMD?

Starting August 30, 2021, students will be able to access free EC at the UHC Pharmacy by providing their student ID when they pick up the medication. The pharmacy’s hours of operation are posted on their web page. 

We hope to find more on-campus sites to distribute free emergency contraception by Spring 2022. 

You don’t need a prescription to buy EC and people of any age and any gender can pick this up for themselves, for a friend, for a partner, a roommate, etc.  

 

Why do I have to provide my student ID and what information is being used?

Providing the student ID is done to ensure that the SGA funds are going towards UMD students as well as capturing big picture information - not tracking individual students - to better inform this program and so that UHC can tailor sexual health services and resources.

 

How do I take EC and how effective is it?

Emergency contraception is a time-sensitive medication and the sooner you take it after sexual behavior that might result in a pregnancy the more effective the medication is at preventing pregnancy. 

The form of emergency contraception that is available through this free program is one pill that you place in your mouth and swallow, preferably with water. You can take the medication with or without food. This type of EC works best when you take it within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex, but you can take them up to five days after. The sooner you take them, the better they work.

 

(source: https://www.planbonestep.com/faqs/

 

There are other forms of emergency contraception, right?

There are 2 ways to prevent pregnancy after you have unprotected sex:

Option 1: Get a Paragard (copper) IUD within 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex. This is the most effective type of emergency contraception. The copper IUD works as well on day one as it does on day five. THIS FORM OF EC IS NOT AVAILABLE AT UHC

Option 2: Take an emergency contraception pill (AKA the morning-after pill) within 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex. There are 2 types of morning-after pills:

A pill with ulipristal acetate. There’s only one brand, called ella.

  • ella is the most effective type of morning-after pill.
  • You need a prescription to get ella emergency contraception.
  • You can take ella up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex — but it’s best to take it as soon as you can.
  • If you weigh 195 pounds or more, ella may work less well.
  • ella is available at the UHC Pharmacy.

A pill with levonorgestrel. Brand names include: EC One Step, Take Action, My Way, Option 2, Preventeza, AfterPill, My Choice, Aftera, EContra, and others. THIS IS THE KIND BEING OFFERED FOR FREE AT UHC.

  • You can buy levonorgestrel morning-after pills over the counter without a prescription in most drugstores, pharmacies, and superstores.
  • These types of morning-after pills work best when you take them within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex, but you can take them up to five days after. The sooner you take them, the better they work.
  • If you weigh 155 pounds or more, levonorgestrel morning-after pills may not work.

What if I need emergency contraception after hours or on the weekend?

Students can access EC for $15 at The Union Shop in The Stamp, North Campus convenience stores, 251 Shop, and South Commons shop. EC is also available at local pharmacies in the community but is generally more expensive off-campus. 

Emergency contraception is a time-sensitive medication and the sooner you take it after sexual behavior that might result in a pregnancy the more effective the medication is at preventing pregnancy. Some students find it most convenient to get emergency contraception before an “emergency” so they, a partner, or a friend has it more quickly in a time of need. 

This means that students can come by the UHC Pharmacy during business hours and access free EC to keep on hand for a possible after-hours or weekend need for the medication. While at UHC, students will also be provided with information about birth control services and options available to them as well as other safer sex resources. 

Students can also purchase EC at our on-campus locations for $15 and at off-campus pharmacies.

You don’t need a prescription to buy EC and people of any age and any gender can pick this up for themselves, for a friend, for a partner, a roommate, etc. 

 

What other Birth Control services and options are available at UHC?

In addition to emergency contraception, UHC offers several birth control services:

  • Free birth control consultations
  • Birth control start and refill services
  • Pregnancy testing, counseling, and referrals 

In addition to emergency contraception, UHC offers several birth control options:

  • Free condoms (internal and external)
  • Over 20 kinds of birth control pills
  • The vaginal ring (NuvaRing)
  • The contraceptive patch
  • Diaphragms
  • The Shot (Depo Provera)
  • The Implant (Nexplanon)
  • Intrauterine Devices (hormonal and non-hormonal options)

What should I do after using emergency contraception?

If you continue to be sexually active, start/continue to use regular birth control methods to prevent pregnancy. Take a pregnancy test about a month after you take emergency contraceptives, or if you miss your period. If your period is late and the pregnancy test is negative, wait a few more weeks and take another. If you were potentially exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), consider getting STI tested at UHC or another testing facility. 

What other resources can I turn to for more information about Sexual Health Services at the UHC?

Please check out the various sexual health services and resources available to students by visiting our Sexual Health Services website.

For more information on the Free EC @ UMD program, you can email SHAC (shac.umd@gmail.com) or the SGA Director of Health and Wellness (sgahealth@umd.edu).

For questions related to the emergency contraception medication, you can contact the UHC Pharmacy at akachur@umd.edu or 301-314-8167.