What Is YOUR Plan B? The Truth About Emergency Contraception


Contraception talks are often limited to women who don’t use it, encouraging them to explore different forms of contraception such as birth control pills and condoms. What if you’re one of the women who do already use contraception? Most forms of contraceptions are between 85% and 99% effective – in fact, no form of contraceptive is 100% effective. So what is YOUR Plan B if you happen to be in that lucky 15%?

What Is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception, also known as the “morning after pill” is just that – it’s contraception that is used in the event of an emergency. If you miss a few birth control pills, the condom breaks, or your diaphragm spills as you’re taking it out. Emergency contraception isn’t regular birth control, meaning you can’t have sex without protection every time and simply use emergency contraception afterwards to prevent pregnancy. It also won’t protect you against sexually transmitted diseases or infections. But it can help when something goes wrong with your normal contraception methods.

What Is Plan B?

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Plan B is the brand name of emergency contraception that is available at your local pharmacy or Planned Parenthood location. You don’t need a prescription for Plan B, but insurance won’t help pay for it either. It works – about 7 out of 8 women that would have become pregnant if they didn’t use Plan B didn’t. Plan B is most effective 72 hours after having unprotected sex or a contraceptive failure, and the longer you wait, the less effective it will be. You certainly don’t have to wait 72 hours either – take it as soon as you can after the event in question to maximize your chances of not becoming pregnant.

How Does Plan B Work?

Plan B works the same as birth control does – in fact, the chemicals are very nearly the same in the two medications, with the exception that Plan B has much stronger doses. Both Plan B and birth control work to stop the release of an egg from the ovary, as well as making the lining of your uterus inhabitable for a fertilized egg should one try to implant itself. Plan B is not an abortion – it won’t work if you’re already pregnant. It simply prevents pregnancy from happening in the first place.

Here are some things you should know about Plan B:

  • When you take Plan B after a contraception failure or unprotected sex, you are preventing pregnancy from that particular occurance. There is no long term pregnancy prevention with Plan B.
  • There are risks associated with Plan B, such as blood clots and stroke, which is higher if you smoke. These risks are similar to those with birth control. Ask your pharmacist or Planned Parenthood representative about these risks.
  • There are few side effects with Plan B, but it is not side effect free. You can experience changes in your menstrual cycle, nausea or dizziness. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about side effects with Plan B.

It’s Better To Be Prepared

Birth control doesn’t work all the time. Even the best birth control methods still have a very small window in which you can get pregnant. If you don’t want to have a baby, you should have a backup plan. You can get Plan B before your contraceptive even fails, so you’ll be ready if something happens. Shouldn’t you have a Plan B?

Update: Representatives from Plan B have contacted us with new information about their product. It is no longer called Plan B, but Plan B One Step. Those 17 and older are able to get Plan B One Step without a prescription, but those 17 and under must have a prescription for emergency contraception. Visit www.PlanBOneStep.com for more information.

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