Plan B (levonorgestrel) is an emergency contraceptive designed to stop pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure. Adults without prescription can obtain it from many pharmacies and drugstores as well as family planning centers or health department clinics.
Plan B works by preventing an egg from being released during ovulation and making it more difficult for sperm to meet it, making ovulation unnecessary and making conception more likely. But does Plan B really cause any harm?
1. It’s not as effective as other forms of birth control
Understanding Plan B can be challenging. It’s a pill designed to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovaries and uteruses from producing eggs; however, it doesn’t cause abortion or termination itself. Furthermore, taking it within 72 hours after unprotected sexual contact could stop sperm reaching an egg and reaching it first hand.
Therefore, it’s critical that after any unprotected sexual encounter you immediately seek out and obtain Plan B medication. Generic and brand name versions are widely available over-the-counter at pharmacies, drugstores and even some clinics such as Planned Parenthood; additionally it may even be covered by health insurance plans.
Plan B contains levonorgestrel, the same hormone found in hormonal birth control pills. Although its dosage differs, its effect remains the same; disrupting your body’s normal hormone cycle by delaying ovulation so sperm cannot find an egg to meet up with will have the sperm leave your system eventually.
Experts agree that taking multiple morning-after pills does not have any long-term ill effects on fertility and is safe to take multiple times as needed. However, its efficacy ranges between 75%-89% for pregnancy prevention; taking several pills consecutively could impact your period cycle making it hard to know when its due.
If you have doubts that Plan B will work for you, speak with your ob-gyn. He or she may suggest an emergency contraceptive more suited to you such as copper IUDs or birth control pills.
Some forms of Plan B, like progestin-only pills and Ella, are more effective at preventing pregnancy due to being taken up to five days post-unprotected sex. But they still fall short due to fetuses having the opportunity to implant in fallopian tubes before ovulation takes place and become pregnant that way. When that occurs, chances of survival drop significantly while an ectopic pregnancy increases greatly – potentially life threatening outcomes await these pregnancies!
2. It’s more likely to cause an ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when fertilized eggs implant into areas which cannot sustain life – typically your fallopian tube but also possible in your ovary or abdominal cavity. Ectopic pregnancies can be extremely dangerous, often leading to severe bleeding, infection and even death – though Plan B offers greater chances for successful abortion than initiating an ectopic gestation.
Researchers conducted a study in the UK involving 201 women taking Plan B and found that 12 of them experienced an ectopic pregnancy – nearly triple of what is normally seen (around 2-5%). It should be noted, though, that most ectopic pregnancies can be saved when treated early enough.
Whenever experiencing lower abdomen pain three to five weeks after taking Plan B, medical assistance must be sought immediately. This could be a telltale sign of an ectopic pregnancy – an extremely dangerous situation which must be dealt with immediately in order to be safe for both mother and baby.
Plan B may cause breast pain or discomfort; typically mild in nature but more serious reactions have been reported by some users. If this side effect arises for you, be sure to wear loose clothing and take it easy until it passes.
Plan B may be less effective among women with a higher body mass index (BMI). If this applies to you, it’s essential that you speak to your physician about alternative forms of birth control that might work more effectively for you.
Ideally, it would be prudent to purchase and keep Plan B in your medicine cabinet beforehand so it’s always ready when you need it. Also be sure to use condoms whenever possible as Plan B does not protect against sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS, herpes and chlamydia.
3. It’s not as safe as other forms of birth control
As with any medication, Plan B may cause side effects; most are mild; if anything more serious occurs it’s important to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Most often side effects last only for a few days after you take it; it is essential that it is taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex in order for it to work effectively; otherwise it may result in pregnancy.
Plan B’s active ingredient is levonorgestrel, an analogue of progesterone found in hormonal birth control pills. It works by altering natural hormonal cycles within your body to delay ovulation and stop fertilization altogether, thickening up your uterine lining further so sperm has trouble reaching an egg and effectively stopping any possibility of pregnancy from ever happening.
That is why it is vitally important to take Plan B immediately when you suspect unprotected sexual contact has taken place, or your period has become late. Also consider keeping some Plan B pills handy so they are ready when needed.
Plan B is one of the most convenient and cost-effective forms of birth control available, as it can be purchased without needing a valid prescription at most drugstores and pharmacies, including Planned Parenthood clinics and even more conveniently, it may even be covered by health insurance plans.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that Plan B only works if taken at the prescribed times, and isn’t suitable as long-term birth control. According to its manufacturer, seven out of eight people who take it correctly won’t become pregnant within one year if taken properly; however it may not be as effective in women with higher body mass index (BMI), breastfeeding mothers or chestfeeding women.
Plan B can become less effective for some women if they have been taking other forms of birth control beforehand, such as condoms or hormonal birth control. Therefore, doctors recommend switching over to another form of contraception the next time you engage in sexual activity, so as not to need Plan B again.
4. It’s more expensive than other forms of birth control
The Plan B pill (or morning-after pill), commonly referred to as an emergency contraception method, serves to protect women after unprotected sexual encounters or birth control failure. Consisting of one single tablet containing levonorgestrel (a synthetic hormone that mimics natural progesterone production in the body and thus delays ovulation), its best results come when taken within 24 hours after encountering any unprotected sexual encounter or birth control failure – even up to 95% effective!
Plan B should not be seen as an alternative method of regular birth control and should never replace condoms as a means to control reproduction. While more expensive than other forms, Plan B is available at some clinics and Planned Parenthood centers for free use; under the Affordable Care Act most health insurance plans cover FDA-approved prescriptions for emergency contraception without cost sharing for women.
Women often turn to birth control pills when experiencing abnormal bleeding or breastfeeding/chestfeeding, though this should never affect milk supply. Anyone experiencing sudden, unexplained vaginal bleeding should speak to a physician prior to taking this drug, while any woman who becomes pregnant while on it must inform her physician immediately.
Plan B is more than a contraceptive – it’s also an abortifacient. According to Scientific American, Medical News Today and Planned Parenthood, taking this pill can kill an embryo by altering the uterine environment so much so that when an embryo tries to implant in its mother’s womb it won’t receive sufficient progesterone to survive and therefore will die shortly after implanting itself in her womb.
Plan B One-Step can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies across the US for approximately $50. Though more costly than other forms of birth control, Plan B may be free at some clinics and Planned Parentshood centers and discounted through GoodRx. Another alternative would be Take Action which has all of the same active ingredients (levonorgestrel) but at a significantly lower cost.