Emergency Contraception: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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Emergency contraceptives can prevent pregnancy, when used after unprotected sex around the time of ovulation. In the past 15 years, access to emergency contraception (EC) in the United States has increased and more women use it. Emerging data may tailor EC prescribing based on patient weight and starting other contraception. There are several EC options—oral levonorgestrel and oral ulipristal acetate and the copper intrauterine device. Ideally, women should have EC access at low or no cost. Yet, several barriers—limited patient and provider knowledge about EC, cost, EC stocking practices, and state and federal laws exempting providers from supplying EC—make it difficult to integrate this time-sensitive treatment into women's reproductive health care.

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