Emergency Contraception: Plan B vs. Next Choice

You should know your options when it comes to emergency contraception. Every year there are over 2 million women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy and the accompanying complications. With the option of emergency contraception available, women can make the choice to prevent a pregnancy even when they have engaged in unprotected sex or are concerned about a possible contraceptive malfunction. With approximately half of those yearly unplanned pregnancies resulting in the choice of an abortion, emergency contraception offers a welcome alternative.



So what is emergency contraception and how does it work? Most women who are not planning to have a child will use birth control if they are sexually active. This can be in the form of birth control pills or birth control devices including condoms. However, sometimes couples forget to use birth control, or have doubts as to whether their contraception method was effective. If a condom slips or breaks, or if a women accidentally skips a dose of her birth control pills, then this is the time to consider using an emergency contraception pill such as Plan B or Next Choice.


Both of these medications use an elevated dosage of the hormone Levonorgestrel to interrupt the course of impregnation. This same hormone is found in much lower doses in many routine birth control pills, but in this higher dose it works effectively to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, to prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg and to prevent implantation in the womb.


In order for emergency contraception pills to be most effective, they should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure.



In general, these two types of emergency contraception are quite similar. We will list these similarities for you, as well as discuss any difference between Next Choice and Plan B so that you can make an informed decision regarding emergency contraception.


Similarities Between Next Choice and Plan B


  • Both Next Choice and Plan B contain high levels of the hormone Levonorgestrel.
  • Neither Next Choice nor Plan B will result in an abortion if a woman is already pregnant.
  • Both Next Choice and Plan B need to be taken within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex.
  • Neither Next Choice nor Plan B would be harmful to a developing baby.
  • Both Next Choice and Plan B work to prevent an egg from being fertilized thereby preventing pregnancy.
  • Neither Next Choice nor Plan B is intended to be taken in place of regular birth control pills.
  • Both Next Choice and Plan B greatly reduce the chance of pregnancy if taken as directed.
  • Neither Next Choice nor Plan B will prevent any sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Both Next Choice and Plan B have the potential for mild, temporary side effects.



Potential side effects of taking either emergency contraception pill are virtually the same. These effects will vary among different women depending upon your own unique physical chemistry, but the list of possible side effects are the same for both pills.


Potential Side Effects


  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Period changes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lightheadedness


A couple of important notes regarding these potential side effects: first, any of these complications should only be mildly uncomfortable. If these effects continue more than a few days or are severe, then you should contact your health care professional. If nausea causes you to vomit within a few of taking the pill, you will need to consult your physician to find out if you should repeat the dose. If stomach pain is severe, you could have an ectopic pregnancy and should see your doctor right away. And although your menstrual cycle may be earlier or later than normal, if your period is more than one week late you should take a pregnancy test.



There is only one significant difference between these two types of emergency contraception. Plan  B One-Step is a single pill, while Next  Choice requires 2 doses. Both have to be taken within 72 hours to be most effective, but the second dose of Next Choice is taken within 12 hours after the first pill.

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