Emergency Contraception: Get the Facts About Plan B

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Life doesn’t always go according to plan. If you’ve ever experienced the panic that comes with waiting for your period to come, you know this very well. 

Luckily, there’s a fast and safe way to make doubly sure you don’t become pregnant if your normal method of birth control fails – Plan B.  The emergency contraceptive pill is available through your healthcare provider or your pharmacist, and when used properly, can prevent you from becoming pregnant in a pinch. 

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about emergency contraception, so we’ve collected some of the popular questions regarding Plan B, and found the answers for you.

How is Plan B different from the abortion pill?

The biggest misconception about Plan B is that it is the abortion pill.  It absolutely is not.  Plan B is simply emergency contraception.  It contains the hormone levonorgestrel, the same hormone used in birth control pills.  You body reacts to the hormone by thinning the lining of your uterus so it won’t let an egg attach. It also creates more mucus at the opening of your cervix so sperm can’t get through, in the first place. 

The most important thing to note, though, is that if you already have an implanted fertilized egg, Plan B will not do anything.  According to the Plan B One Step website, “It won’t work if you’re already pregnant, and it should not affect or terminate your pregnancy.” 

PlannedParenthood.com gives an indepth description of how emergency contraceptive works and how it is different than abortion.

How many times can I take Plan B?

Plan B is aptly named.  Emergency contraception is like the special forces of the birth control. It is only to be used in cases of emergency, meaning that your primary birth control (like the pill, hormone shot, condom etc.) has failed or been disrupted in some manner.That being said, Plan B only works for 24 hours (just like any other singular birth control pill). 

[Read "How Many Times Can Someone Take the Plan B Pill?"]

If you take Plan B and have unprotected sex 25 hours later, you have just as much risk of getting pregnant as you would if you hadn’t taken it… so you’ll have to go get another pill.  You won’t like paying for it twice, because one single Plan B pill usually costs more than a whole month’s worth of birth control pills. 

How will Plan B make me feel?

The side effects of Plan B are slightly amplified versions of what you feel when you first begin a new birth control pill regimen.  Some women experience no side effects at all, while others feel cramping, backaches, headaches, breast tenderness, dizziness, and tiredness. If you’re still concerned about possible side effects, The Mayo Clinic gives an indepth description of what you can expect when taking Plan B.

How soon after taking Plan B can I start my birth control pills again?

You need to take your regular birth control pills on schedule because Plan B will not going to prevent pregnancy for very long and it is not as effective as your regular birth control pills.  Take your pill at the regular time and be diligent about taking it at the right time every day.

How long do I have to take it?

The most effective time to take it is the day the birth control failed or you didn’t use any form of contraception.  The more time that passes before you take it, the less likely it is to work.  According to the Plan B website, you have up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to take Plan B. 

This article is not intended as medical advice, and this information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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