Plan B, or the Morning After Pill, is a safe and effective emergency contraceptive option that, when taken properly, can prevent pregnancy after a sexual encounter has taken place. Although there are other options out there that offer similar benefits, few are as recognized as Plan B. A woman may choose to take Plan B if:
- She has had unprotected sex.
- The condom broke during a sexual encounter.
- She has reason to believe another form of birth control has failed during a sexual encounter.
- She was raped.
If you’ve found yourself in one of the above situations, Plan B may well be the best option for you. Before you make that decision though, you should be as informed as possible about this medication. For that reason, knowing how Plan B works should important to you.
How Plan B Works: Is Plan B an Abortion Pill?
Before we begin, one of the most important things about understanding how Plan B works is understanding that Plan B is not an abortion pill as some opponents of its use like to claim. Plan B does not terminate pregnancies. It prevents pregnancies from happening. That is one of the key reasons it’s so important to make sure you take the medication within 72 hours of having unprotected sex or after another birth control method has failed. Plan B will not be effective at preventing pregnancy once you have already become pregnant. Let’s clarify.
How Plan B Works: How Plan B Prevents Pregnancy
Plan B prevents pregnancy in one of the following three ways:
- Plan B stops your ovary from releasing an egg temporarily.
- Plan B prevents an egg that has already been released from being viable for fertilization.
- Plan B prevents an already fertilized egg from being able to attach itself to your uterus.
For pregnancy to happen, an egg much be released from your ovary. Once that egg is released, it has to be fertilized by a man’s sperm. That fertilized egg must then attach itself to your uterus where it will develop into an embryo, fetus and finally a baby. How Plan B works for you will depend on where you were in your cycle when you had sex, how soon you took the medication after you had sex and several other factors that are too numerous to list here. Knowing how Plan B works doesn’t mean figuring out how exactly it will work for you. Instead, it means knowing as much about the Plan B process as possible and taking it as quickly as you can.
How Plan B Works: About the Medication
Plan B is part of the progestin medication family. Progestin is a hormone commonly found in many forms of birth control pills although when found in birth control pills, it is often combined with estrogen. Plan B is a progestin only medication used for preventing pregnancy after unsafe sex has taken place. It is not intended to take the place of more traditional forms of birth control and it is also not an effective way to terminate a pregnancy. If you have already become pregnant, whether your pregnancy has been confirmed by a home pregnancy test or by a doctor, Plan B will not help you. It absolutely must be taken within 72 hours or it will offer you no benefit whatsoever. The sooner you take it the better. As you get closer to the end of that 72 hour window, the effectiveness of the medication becomes weakened. For the best results, take Plan B within 24-48 hours.