The United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy among developed countries. Nearly 80% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, a result of contraception failure or nonuse, according to the AAP.
The use of emergency contraception has been around since the 1970s, when doctors often advised patients to double up on their regular birth control pills in a method called "Yuzpe." Since then several products have been approved for use by prescription and over-the-counter. Yet lead author Dr. Cora Beurner said there are still many people who don't know about emergency contraception or have unfounded fears about using it.
Emergency contraception is designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It works by inhibiting ovulation and disrupting the production of key cells needed in a woman's body to conceive. It works best if taken up to 24 hours after intercourse, although it lowers pregnancy risk if taken within 120 hours (five days). It will not work if you are already pregnant.
Emergency contraception is available with a prescription for all patients and available over-the-counter for women over the age of 17. The pills cost around $80.
Image: Teenage girl with doctor, via Shutterstock