You just had vaginal sex and are scared that you may be pregnant.
You can either do nothing and hope for the best or you can use emergency contraception, such as Plan B. Emergency contraception is not like regular contraception. Emergency contraception can only be effective if used immediately or within the first 5 days following unprotected vaginal sex. Contraception is using something to purposely prevent pregnancy. Emergency contraception can be used if you had sex and want to try and prevent a pregnancy from happening afterward. But action must be taken quickly. There are two methods of emergency contraception that can be used to prevent a pregnancy from happening. They are either swallowing an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) or placing an intrauterine device (IUD) - a small piece of copper placed in the uterus - that prevents pregnancy from occurring.
Emergency Contraceptive Pills
ECPs should be taken within three days of unprotected sex (the sooner you take it the more effective it will be) but can be taken up to five days after. Once taken, ECPs will not continue to protect against future pregnancies should unprotected sex occur again. The more time that passes following unprotected sex, the less effective an ECP will be. If a woman has unprotected sex after taking an ECP, she is still at risk of pregnancy and should definitely consider taking ECPs again.
In the United States, ECPs can be purchased at any pharmacy without a prescription. ECPs should not be used as a regular form of birth control as they do not work as effectively as a standard contraceptive and are more expensive. If you do not get your period within three weeks of taking ECPs, contact your doctor.
The copper IUD is commonly used as a form of regular birth control but can also be inserted as a form of emergency contraception, and stay in place as continued birth control. The IUD can be placed up to seven days after vaginal sex happened and will not only prevent a pregnancy from happening, but if left in place will prevent future pregnancies until it is removed. Placement of an IUD requires medical assistance so please contact your medical provider or local sexual health clinic if this is an option you need or want.
Please note that ECPs and IUD’s DO NOT PROTECT AGAINST SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES. If you had unprotected sex of any kind (vaginal, anal, oral) please discuss with your medical provider as to whether STD testing is needed. In general, medical providers are great people to talk to about sexual health because they are trained in this area. Click here for STD info.
There is some halachic debate about whether emergency contraception is halachically acceptable. Yet authorities agree that using emergency contraception is certainly better than having an abortion later on. If you feel spiritually conflicted about your situation or if you do not feel comfortable using emergency contraception because of halachic concerns, but are worried about an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, find a person knowledgeable in halacha to discuss your concerns with. Some halachic authorities worry that taking an ECP is like having an abortion. An emergency contraceptive pill is NOT an abortion pill, and the IUD does not cause an abortion to happen. If a fertilized egg has implanted in the uterus, meaning - pregnancy has occurred - an ECP will not stop pregnancy from continuing. ECP and the IUD either prevent an egg from developing, delay the egg's release, prevent sperm from reaching the egg, or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus which would lead to pregnancy.
Being in this situation can be very stressful and emotionally overwhelming. You may feel alienated, alone, or afraid of being judged. Please consider reaching out for support. There are many people you can turn to for support. While it may seem scary, please consider talking to your parents. If this is not an option, you can talk to your medical provider, school social worker, a teacher, a Rabbi, or a friend. Please remember that a good Rabbi is trained to deal with situations like this. If you do not know of a Rabbi in your area, consult with a trusted adult or medical figure to help guide you in the right direction.
Finding good emotional support from a licensed therapist can not only help you through this uncertain time, but also help you come up with ways to better plan for how you will handle situations where sex can happen in the future.
If you were pressured or forced to have sex please reach out to your medical provider right away. A good medical provider will help you get the supports you need.
To locate a clinic or pharmacy that offers emergency contraception click here.
In Shifra's Arms is an organization that offers offers free, confidential support to Jewish women who are struggling with an unintended pregnancy. The also offer to partners, parents, and loved ones who may be struggling as well. They can be reached at
1) Helpline: 1-888-360-5872. A live person picks up 24/7 and will help you to make a same-day appointment with a counselor.
2) Text (646) 632-8547 to arrange appointment time via text
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and need assistance, go to your local emergency room, or contact The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE or visit their website.