Emergency Contraception and Abortion Access

Emergency Contraception

In the event that you had unprotected sex or were involved in a failed birth control situation (e.g., broken condom, missed birth control pills, or sexual assault) and there is a possibility of pregnancy, you may be eligible for emergency contraception.

If unprotected sex is a result of coerced sex or sexual assault and you want to talk to someone who is compassionate and understanding, please contact the U of A Sexual Assault Centre by phone at 780-492-9771 or visit them in person at 2-705 SUB (located on the 2nd floor, across from the UHC).

There is a very small window for using emergency contraception. This means that the sooner it is used, the more likely unplanned pregnancy can be prevented.

Important note: Emergency contraception will not abort or terminate a pregnancy. If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will not work.

Emergency Contraception Options

There are a few emergency contraception options available. For additional details, speak with your physician or a health professional so that you can get the medical help you need.

The following are some emergency contraception options:

Emergency Contraception Pill (ECP)

Do I need a prescription to use ECP?
No: ECP does not require a prescription. To access ECP, you will need to visit a pharmacy, such as the University Health Centre Pharmacy at 1-10 SUB (beside the U of A Bookstore) or a local pharmacy. Important note: The pharmacist will ask you some questions to determine eligibility and will advise you of possible side effects.
Does ECP go by other names?
Yes: It is also known as the "Morning-After Pill" or "Plan B". Important note: this option is not to be confused with the "Abortion Pill".
How effective is ECP?
The highest level of efficacy in preventing pregnancy: Taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. After the 24-hour window, the efficacy of EPC decreases, though it can usually be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
How much does the ECP medication cost?

The prices listed below are based on information as of June. 1, 2018. Please be aware that prices are subject to change.

  • Generic brand: $21.59
  • Plan B brand: $33.49

Copper IUD (intrauterine device) Insertion

Can the copper IUD be used as a birth control option?
Yes: The great thing about a copper IUD is that once it is inserted it can be used as birth control for many years (typically between 5-10 years).
Do I need a prescription to use a copper IUD?
Yes: A copper IUD requires a prescription from a physician, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.
How does the copper IUD work?
The copper in the device affects the way the sperm move, preventing the sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg.
How effective is a copper IUD?
The insertion of a copper IUD is the most effective method of preventing unwanted pregnancy following unprotected sex. Typically, it can be inserted within 5 days following unprotected sex. Once inserted, the efficacy of a copper IUD in preventing pregnancy in the future is 99.2%.
How is a copper IUD inserted?

The copper IUD must be inserted by a qualified physician, who will insert the small copper device through the cervix and into the uterus from the vaginal opening.

If you would like to get a copper IUD inserted at the University Health Centre you can book an appointment with Dr. Jonathan Tankel, our registered obstetrician/gynecologist. For more details or to book an appointment, please call UHC at 780-492-2612.

How much does a prescription copper IUD cost?
The price listed below is based on information as of June. 1, 2018. Please be aware that this price is subject to change.

Mona Lisa 5 copper IUD: $76.45 (available at the University Health Centre Pharmacy)


Discovering that you are pregnant - whether planned or unplanned - can be a scary and/or exciting experience, depending on the situation and on the person. Unplanned pregnancy may require you to make a difficult decision: to parent, adopt, or terminate/abort the pregnancy.

Your Right to Access Abortion Services

Abortion is often motivated by the need and/or want to reduce the risk of psychological, physical, economical and/or social outcomes. Depending on your own cultural, religious and social beliefs, this decision may be more difficult to make. There are many reasons why someone may decide that terminating a pregnancy is the best (and perhaps only) option for them. Regardless of what the reason(s) for an abortion may be, it is important to take care of yourself and to make yourself a priority.

It is estimated that 30% of Canadian women will undergo an abortion at some point in their lifetime. Abortion is legal and free in Canada (with proof of current provincial health care), and access to safe abortion services that are free of coercion and/or judgment is a right you have as a Canadian citizen. Fortunately, there are many wonderful services available that can help guide and support you through the process if this is the decision you choose.

Available Abortion Services

An unplanned pregnancy can be the result of many different situations and circumstances (e.g., spontaneous sexual encounters, a lack of birth control, failed birth control, sexual assault, etc.). The idea that an abortion will affect your future fertility and pregnancy(ies) is a myth. According to the Women's Health Options, choosing to have an abortion now will not decrease your chances of pregnancy in the future.

There are a number of services available, as outlined by the Women's Health Options, that can help terminate a pregnancy (e.g., medication and surgical). The appropriate service depends on many factors, including how far along you are in your pregnancy. Important note: Late-term abortions are not generally recommended or approved. The latest you can receive an abortion is under 20 weeks (140 days pregnant).

For more information or to book an appointment with Women's Health Options, visit their downtown location at 12409 109 A Ave. N.W., call them at 780-484-1124, or visit their website. Please be aware that appointments for abortions through Women's Health Options must be booked over the phone as they cannot be booked online.

Other Considerations

What if my unplanned pregnancy is due to a lack of birth control or failed birth control?
You may want to consider thinking about what your options are after the pregnancy has been terminated. For more information, visit Sex & U A - a great website where you can learn more about the pros and cons of various types of contraception.
What kind of birth control is available at the UHC?
The three most commonly used types of birth control at the UHC are the IUD, birth control pill, and NuvaRing. Important note: Condoms are great for reducing your risk of STI's (Sexually Transmitted Infections), but have a high failure rate (e.g., lead to unwanted pregnancy) when compared to other forms birth control.
What other options are available if I decide not to terminate my pregnancy?

If you would like to continue with your pregnancy, for whatever reason, there are prenatal care and adoption services that you can access

Pregnancy/prenatal care: For more information on continuing a pregnancy/prenatal care, please contact your family physician or visit the University Health Centre.

Adoption: If you are considering adoption, you can contact the U of A Community Social Work Team at 780-492-3342.


Students, Employees


Health Wellness