What Does Plan B Do?

Plan B is most definitely a controversial subject and much of the controversy focuses on one question: what does Plan B do? The answer to that question is a little complicated which is probably a bit part of the reason Plan B is so controversial. Everything hinges on one question – does Plan B effect fertilized eggs? The answer? The evidence points to no, but that evidence isn’t entirely conclusive and because it would be unethical to test the medication on women, answers can be pretty difficult to come by. To answer the question “what does Plan B do” we’re probably better off starting by stating what Plan B doesn’t do.

What Does Plan B Do? The Abortion Pill Debate

Plan B does not terminate pregnancies. In other words, Plan B is not an abortion pill as some opponents of the pill would like you to believe. If you are already pregnant, Plan B will not terminate your pregnancy. To understand what Plan B does to prevent pregnancy, you need to understand how pregnancy happens. Your body releases an egg from the ovaries. That egg is then fertilized by a man’s sperm. Once the egg has been fertilized, it attaches itself to your uterus and begins to develop into what will eventually be your baby. Once a fertilized egg attaches to the uterus, it’s too late for Plan B to offer you any benefit. That’s why it’s important to take Plan B within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.

What Does Plan B Do? Plan B VS Traditional Birth Control

So that’s all well and fine but what does Plan B do? How does Plan B  prevent pregnancy if it doesn’t terminate pregnancy and isn’t like traditional birth control pills? Well, the answer here is a little complicated. Let’s start by pointing out that Plan B actually isn’t really all that different from traditional birth control pills. Both Plan B and traditional birth control pills contain progestin and belong to the progestin family of medications. Progestin is a female sex hormone that exists on its own in Plan B but is often combined with estrogen for traditional birth control pills. That is a pretty big difference but the biggest difference between Plan B and regular birth control is the way the medications are taken. Traditional birth control pills are taken on a regular basis to prevent pregnancy but these pills are taken before unprotected sex takes place. Plan B is taken in a single dose to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex takes place.

What Does Plan B Do? The Facts

Plan B works in one of three ways. Plan B can:

  • Prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg for fertilization temporarily.
  • Prevent any egg that is released or was released before the medication was taken from being fertilized.
  • Prevent a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterus.

And this is where the controversy comes in. Many believe that life starts at conception and that conception takes place the moment an egg is fertilized and therefore believe that by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus is a form of aborting a pregnancy. Whatever your feelings on this are, it’s important to note that, as of writing this, the only conclusive evidence than Plan B affects a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus is the printing on the label of the box. That doesn’t really make Plan B any less effective as long as you take it within the 72 hour time frame. The medication still prevents the ovaries from releases eggs and prevents sperm from being able to fertilize an egg that may have already been released.

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