So, you are not quite ready to start decorating a nursery, but you have had unprotected sex. Whether you think your normal birth control may have failed because of a broken condom or a forgotten birth control pill, you still have the option of emergency contraception- “the morning after pill”. But do you really have to take it the morning after for it to work? How long after having unprotected sex can you still take Plan B?
It’s been over 72 hours…
The manufacturer’s label states that Plan B One Step should be taken within 72 hours after having unprotected sex. In order for any emergency contraceptive to have the most chance of effectiveness, then it should certainly be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, and it is recommended that 72 hours is the amount of time you have for optimal pregnancy prevention.
However, recent medical studies have indicated that Plan B can work up to 120 hours.
That’s five days after unprotected sex. Obviously, the effects of the hormone within an emergency contraceptive pill don’t just immediately come to a halt at the end of 72 hours. There is no exact time limit placed by medical science on the ability of Plan B to prevent pregnancy from occurring. In fact, even during the first 72 hours the effectiveness has no guarantee, ranging somewhere between 89% and 95% successful at pregnancy prevention.
But as research continues into the effectiveness of Plan B and other emergency contraceptive pills, studies are indicating that it can work for longer than originally perceived – 120 hours instead of 72 hours.
Does that mean it’s okay to wait 5 days before I take Plan B?
No. and No. If you truly are concerned about the possibility of becoming pregnant and you want to take every precaution to keep pregnancy from occurring, then- Never wait until the last minute. Of course, sometimes things happen that make it difficult to plan ahead, and sometimes you have unprotected sex, whether accidentally, willingly, or non-willingly. This is why emergency contraceptive pills were created.
Emergency contraceptive pills make it unlikely that a pregnancy will occur. But even taken as recommended they are not guaranteed, for any number of reasons. Each woman and her hormone levels are unique, you may have already become pregnant without realizing, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. But your best bet for your emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy is to take Plan B as soon as possible after unprotected sex – within 72 hours if possible.
Could it possibly work after 72 hours?
Yes, of course it might work. You might not have gotten pregnant anyway depending on your ovulation cycle, or the viability of the sperm, or any number of other reasons. But studies are showing that Plan B sometimes works up to 120 hours, so if you couldn’t get the emergency contraceptive pill any sooner and you are concerned, go ahead and take Plan B within the five day window and cross your fingers! You still have a good chance of it working, just a lesser chance than if you’d taken it sooner.