Having unprotected sex, having a condom break, realizing you forgot to take a birth control pill, or being the victim of sexual assault are some of the reasons you may be wondering about the Plan B pill. While it’s been around for several decades, there is still much confusion about how it works and how to even get it in the first place.
What is Plan B?
Levonorgestrel is a form of emergency contraception, popularly known as Plan B or the Morning-After Pill. Despite its nickname, you don’t have to wait until the next day to take it. In fact, the closer you take it to the time of unprotected sex, the more likely it is to be effective.
It’s important to note that Plan B is not an abortion pill, which is designed to terminate pregnancy within the first 10 weeks from the moment of conception. Plan B prevents conception from happening at all. If you end up taking Plan B after sperm has fertilized an egg, it will not stop or affect the development of the fetus.
How Does Plan B Work?
Plan B works by taking a single dose of the pill, within 72 hours (three days) of having unprotected sex. How it works depends where you are in your menstrual cycle. If your ovaries haven’t released an egg yet, Plan B will prevent them from doing so. If you are further along in your cycle and an egg has already been released, Plan B can prevent pregnancy by thickening mucus on the cervix (thus preventing sperm from getting through), or by thinning the uterine lining, which reduces the chances of a fertilized egg attaching to it.
Where Do I Get Plan B?
You can purchase it over-the-counter at most drugstores. It’s available under the following brands: Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, My Way, Take Action, and After Pill. There’s no age restriction to purchase them, and you don’t need to show an ID for them anymore. They typically cost anywhere between $40 and $50. You can also get Plan B at Planned Parenthood locations, or order it online for a discounted price. Keep in mind that the longer you wait to take it, the less effective it becomes. So if you do choose to go the online route, only do so to have them around in the event you need it in the future. Do note that Plan B has higher hormones than regular oral contraceptives, so it should not be used regularly as your main form of birth control.
Do be aware that not every drugstore in every city carries emergency contraception. If you don’t live in a large metropolitan area, call ahead before wasting a trip, or schedule an emergency appointment with your OB-GYN to talk about your options.
How Effective is Plan B?
No single method of birth control is 100% effective. However, if you take the Plan B Pill, you can reduce your risk of pregnancy between 75% and 95%. The sooner you take it, the higher the chance of it working. If you are obese, its success rate is lower. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is higher than 30% and you are absolutely certain you do not want to get pregnant, a non-hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) would be a more effective way to prevent pregnancy.
Are There any Side Effects from Plan B?
Some women don’t experience any side effects at all. However, those who do may feel changes in their menstrual cycle, cramps, breast tenderness, or nausea.
Contact Us at OB-GYN Women’s Center
Being able to plan a family is fundamental. If you have any questions about any type of contraception, let us help you.
At OB-GYN Women’s Center, we’ll provide you with the best reproductive care, taking into account your individual medical needs.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.