Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Increasing Access to Emergency Contraception

Obstet Gynecol; ePub 2017 Jul; Prager, et al

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women has issued a committee opinion that examines the barriers to the use of emergency contraception (EC), emphasizes the importance of increasing access, and reviews new methods of EC, and limitations in efficacy in special populations. Among the ACOG recommendations:

  • Counsel patients that a copper intrauterine device (IUD) is the most effective form of emergency contraception. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers should consider integrating copper IUD emergency contraception provision into their practices and allowing same-day provision of IUDs.
  • Prescribe ulipristal acetate when possible because it is more effective than levonorgestrel at all times up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse and in women of all weights.
  • Write advance prescriptions for emergency contraception, particularly for ulipristal acetate, to increase awareness and reduce barriers to immediate access.
  • Use a visit for emergency contraception as an opportunity to provide information about all contraceptive methods and to initiate a regular method, when possible.
  • Counsel all women at risk of pregnancy about emergency contraception and provide patient education materials and reminders in electronic health records.
  • Provide a referral for a woman who desires emergency contraception if her health care provider, pharmacy, or institution has an objection to providing it.


Access to emergency contraception. Committee Opinion No. 707. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;130:e48–52.