Plan B is an emergency contraceptive than can be taken after unprotected sex or after a chosen form of birth control has failed to prevent unwanted pregnancy, making it a highly desirable birth control method but also a controversial one. We talked a little bit about what Plan B is and why you may consider taking it in another article but for this one, we’re just going to focus on the potential side effects of these pills so you can make an informed decision as to whether or not this is the right option for you.
What Are the Most Common Plan B Side Effects? (Side Effects of The Morning After Pill)
As with any medication, there are Plan B side effects you should be aware of before you consider taking it. Not every woman will experience these side effects but it is still important to know any potential problems you may encounter after you take your pills. Some of the most common Plan B side effects are:
- A change in your menstrual flow (either heavier or lighter)
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Tenderness in the breasts
Most of the symptoms women encounter after taking Plan B are mild and don’t require any sort of medical attention. They last a fairly short amount of time during which the woman is able to go about her normal day to day activities. Although most women will still get their period on time, some women will in fact find their period is delayed for a few days. It’s important to keep this in mind as, obviously, a late period is one of the most recognized pregnancy symptoms. Because Plan B is not 100% effective though, it is important to make sure you take a pregnancy test if your period is more than a few days late. You may be pregnant and if you are, you’ll want to find out as soon as possible to weigh your options and take action based on your choice.
What Are Some Less Common Plan B Side Effects?
Having already talked about what Plan B side effects you can expect to experience after taking the pills, it’s important to get into some of the less common, more serious Plan B side effects that have been noted. At this point though, I’d like to remind you that these side effects are uncommon and few women who take the pills will experience them. Some less common Plan B side effects include:
- Late periods
- Allergic reaction
- Severe abdominal pain
- Ectopic pregnancy
Clearly all of these side effects are far more severe than the ones we talked about in the section above and while they are more rare, they are possibilities you need to be prepared for. Of all of them, the ectopic pregnancy is clearly the most worrisome. An ectopic pregnancy takes place when a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm but instead of the fertilized egg implanting itself in the uterus, it implants itself in another location. Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening but there are treatments available for ectopic pregnancies and the success rate for those treatments are as high as 94%.
When Should I See My Doctor About Plan B Side Effects?
In the vast majority of cases, woman who experience side effects after taking Plan B will not need to seek medical attention. As I mentioned a few moments ago, most Plan B side effects are mild and can mostly be ignored. There are times when that isn’t true though. If you experience severe cramping in your stomach or pelvic region, you may have an ectopic pregnancy and you will need to make an appointment with your doctor immediately. While these pregnancies can be treated and the success rate of those treatments is significant, the success rate lowers the longer you wait. Don’t gamble with your health. There could be absolutely nothing wrong but it always better to be safe than sorry.
Beyond abdominal cramps and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, you also need to see a doctor if you present with symptoms of an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Skin rash
- Labored breathing or wheezing
- Trouble swallowing
Allergic reactions can be severe but like with ectopic pregnancies, they can be treated. If you seek help immediately, the chances of making a full recovery are in your favor. The longer you wait, the more severe the reaction could become, sometimes leaving you with permanent damage or possibly even creating a life threatening condition.
Plan B Side Effects: The Statistics
Most women who take Plan B will experience at least one of the more common Plan B side effects. There are women who will experience none and women who will experience all of them. Making an informed decision means knowing what you could potentially be in for. To make the information a little clearer, I’ve decided to include the statistics for many of the more common and some of the uncommon Plan B side effects.
- 23.1% of women who took Plan B experienced minor nausea.
- 17.6% of women who took Plan B experienced minor abdominal pain.
- 16.9% of women who took Plan B experienced fatigue.
- 16.8% of women who took Plan B experienced minor headaches.
- 13.8% of women who took Plan B experienced a heavier than usual menstrual flow.
- 12.5% of women who took Plan B experienced a lighter than usual menstrual flow.
- 11.2% of women who took Plan B experienced dizziness or lightheadedness.
- 10.7% of women who took Plan B experienced tenderness in their breasts.
- 5.6% of women who took Plan B experienced vomiting.
- 5% of women who took Plan B experienced diarrhea.
As of right now, there are no statistics available on the more serious side effects we spoke of a moment ago, but all of those more serious side effects were observed less frequently than any of the side effects listed above. It is important to mention there is now a single dose Plan B option available on the market that works basically the same way as the traditional two dose version but has different statistics as far as side effects go. The statistics for Plan B side effects associated with the newer, single dose version are as follows:
- 30.9% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced a heavier than usual menstrual flow.
- 13.7% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced minor nausea.
- 13.3% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced abdominal pain.
- 13.3% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced fatigue.
- 10.3% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced minor headaches.
- 9.6% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced dizziness or lightheadedness.
- 8.2% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced tenderness in their breasts.
- 4.6% of women who took single dose Plan B experienced a later than usual menstrual cycle.
If you aren’t sure what side effects you may experience or are concerned about how Plan B will work for you, discuss the option with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to offer you the best possible medical advice and will help you decide whether or not Plan B is the best option for you.