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Is there a shot to stop pregnancy?

There is currently no single shot or injection available that can reliably and effectively stop an existing pregnancy. However, there are a few different options that may be considered in some circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at some of the available methods and their effectiveness.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception, sometimes called the morning after pill, can be used after unprotected sex to try to prevent pregnancy. Options include:

Plan B One-Step

– Can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.
– Contains a high dose of the hormone levonorgestrel.
– Works by preventing ovulation, fertilization, and implantation.
– Is about 75% effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.


– Can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex.
– Contains ulipristal acetate which blocks progesterone.
– Is about 85% effective if taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex.

Copper IUD

– Can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
– Works by preventing fertilization.
– Is over 99% effective if inserted within 5 days.

While emergency contraception can be effective if used soon after unprotected sex, it becomes less effective the longer you wait. It’s important to take emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

Abortion Medication

If emergency contraception fails or is not used, the next option to stop an existing pregnancy is abortion medication:

– Mifepristone is taken first to block progesterone and stop the pregnancy from progressing.
– Misoprostol is taken 24-48 hours later to empty the uterus.

This medication can only be prescribed by a doctor and is approved for use up to 70 days (10 weeks) after the first day of a woman’s last period. The effectiveness depends on how far along the pregnancy is:

Gestational Age Effectiveness
Up to 70 days gestation 95-98% effective
70-77 days gestation 94-96% effective

Some side effects like cramping and bleeding are common with the abortion pill. It requires follow up with a doctor to ensure the pregnancy has ended.

Aspiration Abortion

Another option for stopping an existing pregnancy is an in-clinic abortion procedure called aspiration (or suction) abortion. This involves:

– Numbing the cervix
– Using gentle suction to empty the uterus
– Takes about 5-10 minutes
– Can be done up to 14-16 weeks after the last menstrual period

Aspiration abortion is approximately 99% effective at ending a pregnancy when done by a trained provider. It does carry surgical risks like infection, damage to the cervix or uterus, and retained tissue requiring an additional procedure.

Dilation and Evacuation

For pregnancies beyond the first trimester, typically after 16 weeks, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure may be done to empty the uterus. This involves:

– Dilating the cervix over 1-2 days prior
– Using vacuum aspiration and instruments to remove tissue
– Takes 10-20 minutes
– Can be done up to 24 weeks gestation in some states

D&E is approximately 99% effective but comes with increased surgical risks given the later gestational age. It may require an overnight hospital stay and carries emotional side effects related to seeing and disposing of fetal tissue.


While there are medical options like emergency contraception, abortion pills, and in-clinic abortion procedures to stop an existing pregnancy, there is no single injection or shot that can do this reliably and effectively. The options that exist have different eligibility criteria, risks, and effectiveness rates based on gestational age. It is critical to consider unintended pregnancy options as soon as possible, as effectiveness decreases and risks increase with gestational age. Consult with your healthcare provider right away if you need to consider your options for ending a pregnancy.