Emergency Oral Contraceptive Regimens
Currently Used in the United States

TRADE NAME Pills per dose

Ethinyl estradiol
per dose (ug)

per dose (mg)

Ovral 2 white pills 100 0.50 $47
Femenal  2 white pills 100 0.50   
Aleese  5 pink pills  100 0.50 29 
Levlite  5 pink pills 100 0.05 28
Nordette 4 light-orange pills 120 0.06 30
Levlen  4 light-orange pills 120 0.06 30
Levora 4 white pills 120 0.06 27
Lo/Ovral 4 white pills 0.06 0.06 31
Microgynon 30 4 white pills 120  0.06   
Nordette 4 white pills 120  0.06   
Rigevidon 21+7   4 white pills 120   0.06   
Triphasil  4 yellow pills 120 0.50 29
Tri-Levlen 4 yellow pills 120 0.05 28
Trivora 4 pink pills 120 0.05 28
Ovrette 20 yellow pills 0 0.75 31
Preven 2 blue pills 100 0.05 20
Plan B 1 white pill 0 0.75 20

(Red Brands: Philippine Oral Contraceptives)

Course of therapy: Two doses - one dose taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercouse; second dose take 12 hours later. (Also, check out: Emergency Contraception)

Side effects: Mainly gastrointestinal: nausea 50%, vomiting 20%. Taking the pills with meals may reduce the risk of nausea, however, theoretically, this may lower plasma hormonal levels and reduce contraceptive efficacy. Less common side effects are heavy menses and mastalgia. Withdrawal bleeding occurs within three weeks of treatment. Thirty-eight percent bleed before their menstrual period is due. About 8% may be 4 or more days late.

Contraindications: Other than confirmed pregnancy, there are no absolute contraindications to the emergency use of oral contraceptive combinations. Studies have shown no evidence of harm to the developing fetus. Relative contraindications include migraine with marked neurologic symptoms and preexisting venous thromboembolic disease. Thrombotic episodes have been reported following use of this regimen. Although it is not clear where these events were actually related to hormone use, in these patients use of a progestin-only pill or emergency IUD insertion is recommended. If the timing of exposure makes the risk of pregnancy very slight, the safest course may be to do nothing at all.  In England, where emergency contraception has been used in over 4 million cases in 13 years, no statistically significant increase in the rate of deep venous thrombosis has occurred.

Management of Gastrointestinal Side Effects
of Emergency Contraceptive Medication
Nonprescription Drugs Dose Timing
Meclizine hydrochloride 1-2 (25mg) tablets 1 hr before first ECP dose; repeat PRN in 24 H
Diphenhydramine Hcl 1-2 (25mg) tablets 1 hr before first ECP dose; repeat PRN q 4-6 hr.
Cyclizine Hcl 1 (50mg) tablet 30 mins before 1st ECP dose; repeat q 4-6 hrs PRN
Dimenhydrinate 1-2 (50mg) tablets or 4-8 tsps   30 mins before first ECP dose; repeat PRN in 4-6 H
Prescription Drugs     
Meclizine Hcl                               1-2 (25mg) tablets   1 hr before 1st ECP dose; repeat prn in 24 hrs.
Trimethobenzamide HCL  1 (250 mg) tab  or 200mg supp 1 hr before first ECP dose; then prn q 6-8 hrs.
Promethazine Hcl                       1 (25mg) tablet or supp                          30 - 60 mins before 1st ECP dose; then prn q 8-12 hrs.


American Family Physician / Nov. 15, 2000 / Vol 62 No 10 / www.aafp.org/afp (Table from: Twelve brands of emergency contraceptive pills in the United States. J. Am Med Women's Association 1998,53:213)