Whether your condom broke, you missed a pill, or something else went awry with your birth control, emergency contraception (EC) is an important tool to have. But there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about what it does (and doesn’t) do.
Plan B One-Step is a type of morning-after pill, also known as emergency contraception. It works within 72 hours of unprotected sex and prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation.
What is Plan B?
Plan B is an over-the-counter pill that helps prevent pregnancy. It works best when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or when a regular birth control method fails. It is available without a prescription and has no age restrictions. Plan B and other emergency contraceptives work by releasing hormones in the body that stop an egg from being fertilized. They also thin the lining of the uterus to prevent sperm from attaching to the egg.
A few days after taking Plan B, a woman may experience spotting. This is normal and isn’t a sign that the pill worked or didn’t work. A negative pregnancy test or getting a period is the only way to know if the pill worked.
Women can take Plan B as many times as they need to. However, repeated use can cause the pill to not be as effective. This is because the body’s metabolism and menstrual cycle can affect the effectiveness of the drug. It is important to talk to a doctor about how often you should take the morning-after pill.
Women should make sure they have a copy of the Plan B leaflet and know what to do if they vomit shortly after taking the pill. This can cause the pill to not enter the body and the hormones that prevent pregnancy from working.
Do I need a prescription?
People of any age can purchase Plan B One-Step at a drugstore or pharmacy without a prescription. The medication contains levonorgestrel, a FDA-approved emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy by stopping the body from releasing gonadotropin-releasing hormone. It also thickens the cervical lining, which makes it harder for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg.
Plan B is effective if taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex. It does not work for everyone and will not end an already established pregnancy. If you are concerned about whether or not the pill will work, speak with your healthcare provider. They can explain how it works and what its side effects are, including the risk of vomiting.
The pill is also available over-the-counter at pharmacies without a prescription (with the exception of Ella, which has a different active ingredient and requires a prescription). You can find Plan B in the family planning aisle or ask your pharmacist for assistance if it’s behind the counter. Some family planning or health department clinics and Planned Parenthood offices also sell it.
People should always keep a box of Plan B on hand in case they have unprotected sex or their birth control fails. It’s a good idea to buy a few boxes in advance so you have them on hand when you need them. It’s also important to check the expiration date. Older medication may be less effective.
How do I take it?
The morning-after pill can be taken by mouth and is usually available over the counter, no prescription needed. It contains levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone also found in many birth control pills but at a higher dose. It can be effective if you take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex, and it’s more effective the sooner you take it. You can use Plan B up to five days after sex, but it won’t be as effective. It’s important to remember that Plan B only prevents pregnancy and doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, genital herpes, or chlamydia.
The pill works by temporarily stopping the ovulation process and altering the endometrium so that a fertilized egg cannot implant in the uterus. It can also interfere with sperm’s ability to reach an egg, although it isn’t an abortion pill and does not cause a miscarriage. If you want to avoid side effects, be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. You may have nausea, vomiting, or tender breasts for a short time after taking the pill. Call your doctor or health care professional right away if you vomit after taking Plan B.
You can buy Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, and other brands of the medication from pharmacies and some grocery stores. You can also get it for free from Planned Parenthood. It’s also possible to find discounts or even free Plan B online if you’re willing to look for them.
Can I have sex after taking it?
Sometimes, things don’t go exactly as planned — a condom breaks, you forget your pill, or you’re having sex with someone who may not use protection. Luckily, modern medicine has made it so that you can still avoid getting pregnant in these situations. You can take a high-dose form of the birth control pill known as Plan B (also called “the morning after pill”) to help reduce your risk of pregnancy.
When taken as directed, the levonorgestrel in the morning after pill can cut your chances of getting pregnant by up to 87%. But the pill is not as effective as other forms of birth control and doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so it should be used as a backup only.
It’s important to know that Plan B only offers maximum effectiveness if it’s taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. If you’re planning to have sex after taking the morning after pill, it is recommended that you take a pregnancy test three weeks later to be sure you are protected from pregnancy.
You can also take a prescription-only emergency contraceptive called ulipristal acetate, which works by delaying ovulation. It is a little more effective than Plan B but isn’t as convenient as the morning after pill and requires a doctor’s visit to pick it up.