Plan B: Emergency Contraception
Thinking you might be pregnant, wether by unprotected sex or simply forgetting to take your dose of contraception; you may be considering Plan B. When considering the Morning After Pill you may ask yourself, How does it work? Is it effective? Can I use it regularly to prevent pregnancy?
We’re discussing Plan B on the blog to answer your questions.
What is Plan B?
Plan B is a levonorgestrel morning after pill. It is one type of emergency contraception and is meant to prevent pregnancy before it begins. It is an over-the-counter medication designed to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or a failed attempt of another birth control method like a broken condom or missed dosage of birth control.
A prescription is not required and there are no age restrictions on purchasing Plan B in stores or online. It usually costs around $30-$60 depending on where you buy it and what brand you purchase.
How does Plan B work?
Depending on where you're at in your cycle when you take the Plan B pill, determines what the hormone (levonorgestrel) will do in your body. This is known as a tiered method of prevention. It means that if one step works, the other steps won’t take place.
Research suggests that Plan B primarily works by preventing ovulation so that an egg isn’t released. If the egg has already released, Plan B can possibly prevent the fertilization by impairing sperm function, and lastly can possibly effect the uterine lining which could impair the implantation process.
How Effective is Plan B?
If you take the Plan B pill in the recommended 72 hour window after unprotected sex, it has a 56% to 89% chance of preventing pregnancy, but it really depends on where you are in your cycle that determines it’s percentage of efficacy. If you take the pill after ovulation or after the recommended time frame, your chance of pregnancy is relatively similar had you not taken an emergency contraception in the first place. Some studies also indicate that Plan B may not work as effectively for women who are over 155lbs.
Plan B Side Effects
Some common side effects to be aware of when taking Plan B include:
Nausea and Vomiting
Cycle Changes (including heavy bleeding or timing irregularities)
Cycle changes are very common with taking Plan B. Your next period may be early or late, last longer than normal, and bleed heavier than usual. If your period is a week or more late, it’s recommended that you take a pregnancy test.
Can I use Plan B regularly as back up birth control?
Using Plan B as a form of regular contraception is not recommended and could be harmful to your health. This is because:
The hormonal dosage found in the Plan B pill is a much higher dose than most women experience. When taken regularly it is possible to lead to negative or acute side effects. Some rare side effects consist of Migraines, Stroke, and Ectopic Pregnancy.
Expensive! Regularly taking the morning after pill is quite the financial investment with an average of $40 per pill.
Plan B effects your bodies normal cycle. Irregularity and hard to predict periods can not only make life annoying, but can cause hormonal imbalances, which can lead to significant weight gain, depression, ovarian cyst enlargement and put you at risk for further mental health risks.
Looking for Help?
If you would like support in the decision making process of your unplanned pregnancy, we have a knowledgable staff that’s ready to help you through the process. We have free resources, testing and are ready to discuss all your options in a judgement free environment, always respectful of your choice. You can schedule a visit, call or text us at (970) 824-5204.