First of all, exactly what is Plan B? Quite simply, Plan B is a backup plan. The Plan B One-Step pill is an emergency contraceptive pill that is used to prevent pregnancy after an incident of unprotected sex or birth control failure. It is not an abortion pill, nor is it intended as a routine contraception method. If taken within 72 hours of intercourse, Plan B will greatly reduce the chance of pregnancy.
HOW DOES PLAN B WORK?
Levonorgestrel is a hormone that is found in many birth control pills. However, there is a much higher dose of Levonorgestrel in Plan B than in ordinary birth control pills. Plan B works mainly to stop the ovaries from releasing an egg, and if there is an egg released, it works to prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg and also works to prevent implantation in the womb.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE THE PLAN B ONE-STEP PILL?
If you have forgotten to use birth control at all, or if something happens to give you concern that your birth control method may have failed, (such as the condom broke or you may have accidentally skipped a day of taking your regular birth control pill), then you can take the Plan B pill to keep a pregnancy from occurring. You only have a few days to prevent pregnancy, and the Plan B One-Step pill works better the sooner you take it, so you should take the pill as soon after unprotected sex as possible, definitely within three days (72 hours.)
WHO CAN USE PLAN B?
Any woman over the age of 17 can buy the Plan B pill without a prescription at most pharmacy counters. Girls under 17 will need a prescription to take Plan B. However, there are certain conditions that indicate when a woman should NOT use Plan B.
Do not take Plan B if:
- You are already pregnant- Plan B will not work after pregnancy has begun. It is NOT an abortion pill and only works to prevent a pregnancy BEFORE it occurs.
- You are allergic to Levonorgestrel.
- You plan to use it in place of regular birth control. It is not as effective as daily use contraception method.
- You want to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. Plan B will not prevent HIV infection or any other STD.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I’M PREGNANT AND TAKE PLAN B?
For instance, what if you want to end an unwanted pregnancy and you take the Plan B pill? Or, what if you didn’t realize you were already pregnant when you take Plan B or it just didn’t work and you become pregnant anyway?
As we’ve already stated, the Plan B pill will NOT abort a pregnancy. If you are pregnant and take Plan B your pregnancy will not be ended by the pill. There is no medical evidence that indicates that the Plan B One-Step pill will cause any harm to a developing baby, either intentionally or by accident. It will not disrupt an existing pregnancy or have any effect whatsoever on a child in uterus.
HOW OFTEN CAN I USE PLAN B TO PREVENT PREGNANCY?
If you are sexually active then you should see your healthcare professional to determine the method of routine contraception that suits you best. Plan B is intended only as a backup pregnancy prevention to be taken in an emergency situation when your regular birth control may have failed or you did not use any protection at all.
It will only work to prevent a pregnancy after a single sexual act. This means you should resume your regular birth control the day after you take Plan B, or start using contraception if you weren’t already using any. It will not “cover you” for any additional length of time at all, so subsequent sex acts even within a few days can still cause pregnancy.
However, Plan B is safe to use more than once, even during the same menstrual cycle, so you can use it as often as you need to with only mild temporary side effects, like changes in your period or nausea.