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“The abortion pill and Plan B are not the same thing. It doesn’t cause abortions or miscarriage.”

Plan B is a form of emergency contraception that contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic form of the hormone progestin.

“Plan B can help prevent pregnancies if taken within 120 hours after sex. If you are already pregnant, it doesn’t work.”

There are important differences between Plan B and the abortion pill.

There is a debate about how Plan B works. People disagree about when the baby is due.

It can take up to a week to become pregnant after sexual intercourse. This process involves a lot of steps.

  1. The release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation)
  2. The penetration of an egg by a sperm (fertilization)
  3. The embedding of a fertilized egg, or zygote, in the uterus (implantation)

Medical organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) define pregnancy as beginning with implantation, the third step listed above.

Some people believe that fertilization begins the process of conception.

The confusion around Plan B appears to be related to the possibility that it could work after fertilization. But most research indicates that Plan B does not work after fertilization.

Plan B Medication abortion
What is it? Medication that prevents pregnancy soon after sex Medication that ends an early pregnancy
Can it be used to prevent a pregnancy? Yes Yes
Can it be used to end a pregnancy? No Yes
How does it work? Delays or prevents the release of an egg from the ovary Stops a pregnancy from growing and forces it from the uterus
How long does it take? Works for several days 4 to 5 hours
How effective is it? 75 to 95 percent 98 to 99 percent
How safe is it? About as safe as taking the birth control pill Safer than carrying a pregnancy to term
Does it have side effects? Yes — menstrual cycle irregularities, spotting, nausea, and vomiting Yes — cramping, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

Research shows that Plan B works by preventing or delaying ovulation. It may prevent fertilization.

“Plan B is no longer effective after an egg is fertilized. It doesn’t prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus”

Many researchers have challenged this idea, including the authors of a 2015 literature review. They argued that Plan B is too effective to work solely at the ovulation stage and concluded that it probably has effects after fertilization.

“We don’t know if this is true or not.”

Indeed, the authors of a 2015 literature review indicated that it might not be scientifically possible to prove that Plan B has no effects after an egg is fertilized.

They said that the best evidence shows that EC pills do not work after fertilization.

In addition, keep in mind that according to the standard medical definition, pregnancy begins with implantation.

Vaginal bleeding isn’t a common side effect of Plan B, but it can happen. It’s caused by the hormones in Plan B and other EC pills. Usually, bleeding is light and goes away.

In rare cases, bleeding could be caused by something more serious. If you experience any problems, you should seek medical attention.

  • Unusually heavy bleeding.
  • It lasts more than a few days.
  • Bleeding that is accompanied by other symptoms.

“Measuring Plan B’s effectiveness is difficult because it prevents pregnancies. It is not possible to know how many women would have become pregnant if they had not taken Plan B.”

As a result, most measures of Plan B’s effectiveness are estimates. Plan B’s manufacturers claim that Plan B is:

  • 95 percent effective when taken within 24 hours.
  • 61 percent effective when taken within 48 hours after sex.

Researchers have questioned these estimates. Studies suggest Plan B and other progestin-only pills are between 52% and 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.

In addition, Plan B’s manufacturers recommend taking it within 72 hours. However, recent research suggests that it may still be somewhat effective for up to 120 hours after sex.

A medical abortion involves two drugs.

Mifepristone is the first drug. It works by blocking the hormones that are needed for a pregnant woman to grow.

The second drug is a drug called misoprostol. It works by causing the baby to move from the uterus.

“Plan B won’t work if you’re pregnant.”

Though few studies have assessed the effects of taking Plan B during pregnancy, there’s moderate evidence that it won’t harm a growing fetus.

“Plan B doesn’t affect fertility. It won’t prevent you from becoming pregnant in the future or increase your risk of miscarrying if you do.”

In addition, there’s no limit to how often you can take Plan B.

Plan B is probably the best option if you can take birth control pills.

In fact, according to the medical eligibility criteria provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the benefits of taking EC pills nearly always outweigh the risks.

A few recent studies suggest that Plan B isn’t as effective among people who have a body mass index (BMI) above 25.

In particular, a 2011 study reported that compared to people with a BMI under 25, people with a BMI over 30 were three times more likely to become pregnant despite taking EC.

A 2014 study reported that, in general, higher BMIs are associated with a decreased effectiveness of Plan B and other progestin-only EC pills.

According to a 2016 study, a double dose might improve Plan B’s effectiveness among people with a BMI over 25.

If you have a body mass index over 25 you should not take Plan B.

It may be more effective if you only have one option.

The EC options discussed later in the article are more effective for people with a body mass index over 25.

“Plan B’s side effects are usually mild. They can include:”

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • There are headaches.
  • menstruation that is irregular
  • There is mild abdominal pain.
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • Unusual bleeding or spotting.

Plan B isn’t your only option. Ulipristal acetate is another EC pill sold under the brand name ella. It appears to be more effective than Plan B.

A 2012 study based on clinical trial data suggests that ella maintains approximately the same level of effectiveness for up to 120 hours after sex. It’s probably better if you’ve waited more than 24 hours to take EC.

“It doesn’t change according to your body mass index. It is more effective for people with a higher-than-normal body mass index.”

Another option is a copper intrauterine device (IUD), which can be inserted up to 5 days after ovulation to prevent pregnancy.

Copper IUDs are the most effective form of emergency contraception. When inserted within 5 days of sex, they’re 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Plan B and other progestin-only EC pills are available over the counter, which means you can buy them at a pharmacy without a prescription.

“You don’t have to show your ID. The cost can be as high as $60.”

Generic brands are just as effective in preventing pregnancies as expensive brands. Family planning clinics can offer free or low cost EC pills.

The cost for ella is $50. It is more likely to be covered by insurance if you have a prescription.

IUDs with copper need a prescription. You will need to see a doctor to have the copper IUD inserted. This is often covered by insurance.

If you are worried about the cost, you should contact your insurance company to find out what forms of EC it covers.

“If you don’t have insurance, you can call your local health department or family planning clinic. They may be able to provide the services you need for a low price.”

You have options, whether you carry the baby to term or end the pregnancy.

If you’re unsure about continuing the pregnancy, there are several resources available to help you make an informed decision.

You are not alone. Call or visit a reproductive health clinic to learn more about your options.

“The abortion pill and Plan B are not the same. The abortion pill terminates a pregnant woman’s baby.”

Plan B can only be used to prevent pregnancies if taken within 5 days of sex. It works by either delaying or stopping the fertilization process.