The Morning-After Pill
Before taking the Morning-After Pill, you should understand what it is, what it could mean to your health and how it works. Make the best decision by educating yourself; it is good to know all of the facts before taking the Morning-After Pill. Your body and your health are important so take time to make the best decision.
Give us a call and one of our advocates will be happy to discuss it with you, confirm your pregnancy and advise you on your options.
What is the Morning-After Pill/Emergency Contraception?
Emergency contraception is any type of birth control used after unprotected intercourse or a known or suspected contraceptive failure (e.g. a broken condom).
The Morning-After Pill is any type of oral hormonal birth control taken after unprotected intercourse or a known or suspected contraceptive failure (e.g. a broken condom).
Is Plan B® Effective?
Plan B® is reported to reduce the chance of pregnancy by 60-94% (i), depending on which study is considered. It is important to note that these figures are based on estimates of when ovulation may have occurred.
How is Plan B® Administered?
Plan B® is administered in two tablets: the first must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex and the second 12 hours after the first tablet (ii).
Is Plan B® One-Step Effective?
One study conducted by Plan B® One-Step found that 84% of expected pregnancies were prevented.(iii) The makers of the drug claim 7 out of 8 women who would have gotten pregnant did not (iv). These figures are based on the timing of intercourse with regard to each woman’s menstrual cycle.
How is Plan B® One-Step Administered?
Plan B® One-Step is administered in one tablet and must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex (v).
Should I Take the Morning-After Pill?
Many times women panic after having unprotected sex and rush to take the Morning-After Pill. However, women can only become pregnant on certain days of the month – around the time that you ovulate. Typically, there are only about three to five days a month in which pregnancy can occur. Many women take the Morning-After Pill during a time when they are not fertile meaning that they could not become pregnant. Taking the Morning-After Pill during a time when you cannot become pregnant needlessly exposes you to large doses of hormones.
How Does it Work?
Plan B®vi and Plan B® One-Step(vii) are believed to work in one of 3 ways:
- It may prevent or delay ovulation (release of egg from ovary).
- It may affect the sperm and tube transport to prevent the egg from being fertilized.
- It may alter the uterine lining which prevents the fertilized egg from implanting, resulting in an early abortion.
There is no way to know which way the drug is working in any one person.
Can the Morning-After Pill Cause an Abortion?
That depends upon how you define ‘life’. The scientific reality is that the instant a human egg and sperm unite (fertilization), the newly formed being contains the full complement of DNA in which hair and eye color, gender and all other physical characteristics are determined. During its journey down the fallopian tube, the fertilized egg is actively growing and dividing. It will then implant in the uterine lining where it will continue to grow.
A number of years ago, some in the medical community arbitrarily decided to redefine the beginning of pregnancy as when implantation occurs. Clearly, this contradicts the known facts about when life itself begins, and that is at fertilization. So, one of the ways that Plan B® may work is to alter the uterine lining so that a fertilized egg may not be able to implant and grow (viii). Taking Plan B® after the sperm has fertilized the egg, may interfere with the fertilized egg’s implantation in the uterus which some would consider a very early abortion.
Will it have an Effect on My Period?
It is possible the Plan B® One-Step will affect your period and your cycle. The most common adverse reaction is heavier menstrual bleeding (ix). If your period is delayed for more than one week, pregnancy should be considered(x). Following use of Plan B® One-Step rapid return of fertility is likely (xi).
Should I see a Doctor?
It may be indicated to have a medical examination after taking Plan B® One-Step.
Does the Morning-After Pill have Side Effects?
Plan B® includes side effects such as nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, heavier menstrual bleeding, lighter menstrual bleeding, and dizziness (xii).
Plan B® One-Step (xiii) includes side effects such as heavier menstrual bleeding, nausea, lower abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, dizziness, breast tenderness, and delay of period.
Does the Moring –After Pill have Risks?
Forms of the Morning-After Pill that contain the hormone estrogen carry the potential risks associated with that drug. These include: blood clots, stroke and heart attack.
There is some evidence that the Morning-After Pill may put a woman at increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy occurring outside the uterus) (xiv)
It is very important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy because it can be life-threatening. Women who have an ectopic pregnancy may experience, irregular vaginal bleeding, abdominal and/or pelvic pain and cramps, shoulder pain and dizziness (xv). Many of these symptoms are similar to the potential side effects associated with the use of the Morning-After Pill. It is critical that anyone who has these symptoms be evaluated by a physician.
Could I Already be Pregnant?
Yes. If you are routinely experiencing unprotected sex, you may already be pregnant from an earlier sexual encounter. This is why taking a pregnancy test before considering Plan B® and Plan B® One-Step makes sense. Women who have a known or suspected pregnancy should not take the pills, according to the manufacturers of Plan B® (xvi) Plan B® One-Step (xvii). Please call us for a free and confidential pregnancy test.
Is the Morning-After Pill for someone my Age?
It is unknown whether or not Plan B® or Plan B® One-Step is safe and effective for women under the age of 16 (xviii). It is unknown whether or not Plan B® One-Step is safe and effective for women less than 17 years of age(xix).
What is Unknown about Plan B® and Plan B® One-Step?
There is much that is unknown about the drug such as:
- Plan B®’s effect on women under the age of 16(xx)
- Plan B® One-Step’s effect on women less than 17 years old (xxi)
- Its effects when interacting with other drugs (xxii,xxiii)
- Its effects on women with certain types of medical conditions (xxiv,xxv)
- Plan B®’s effects on women’s ovulation and fertility (xxvi)
- Effects on fetal growth and development (xxvii,xxviii)
Additionally, Plan B® or Plan B® One-Step are not recommended for routine use(xxix,xxx) but the makers of Plan B® have not defined what they consider to be “routine”. There has not been any research on drug abuse and dependence on Plan B® (xxxi) or Plan B® One-Step (xxxii) . There is, also, no information on overdose of Plan B® (xxxiii) or Plan B® One-Step (xxxiv) .
Will the morning-After Pill Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections?
The Morning-After Pill does not prevent the spread of STDs/STIs (xxxv) .
Our Center cares about you and we are here to help. We have more information on the Morning-After Pill, but we do not refer for or prescribe it. We want to assist you as you sort through the concerns you may have about sexual activity. Please call us for more information on the Morning-After Pill, Plan B® or Plan B® One-Step. Generic versions of Plan B® are available and are presumed to work similarly to Plan B®.
This information is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice.
i ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 69. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2005; 106:1443– 52.
ii Physician’s Desk Reference: 2006; Plan B®; p. 1068-69; prescribing information.
iii Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Clinical Studies”. Section 14: page 6.
iv Plan B® One-Step website. “Frequently Asked Questions: How Effective in Plan B One-Step.”
v Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Dosage and Administration” Section 2: page 2.
vi Physician’s Desk Reference: 2006; Plan B® ); p. 1068-69; prescribing information.
vii Plan B® One-Step Website. “How Plan B® One-Step Works.”
viii FDAwebsite. “Plan B® Questions and Answers: How Does Plan B® Work.”
ix Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Adverse Reactions.” Sections 6: pages 2-3.
x Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Warnings and Precautions: Effect on Menses.” Section 5.3: page2.
xi Plan B® package insert. “Precautions: Fertility Following Discontinuation.” Page 7.
xii Plan B® package insert. “Adverse Reactions.” Page 7.
xiii Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Adverse Reactions.” Section 6: pages 2-3.
xiv Plan B® package insert. “Warnings: Ectopic Pregnancy.” Page 6.
xv ACOG Patient Education Pamphlet Ectopic Pregnancy; Copyright(C) April 2002 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
xvi Plan B® Package insert. “Dosage and Administration.” Page 8.
xvii Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Contraindications.” Section 4: page 2.
xviii Plan B® Package insert. “Pediatric Use.” Page 7.
xix Plan B® Package insert. “Use in Specific Populations: Pediatric Use.” Section 8.4: Page 4.
xx Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Precautions: Pediatric Use.” Page 7.
xxi Plan B® Package insert. “Use in Specific Populations: Pediatric Use.” Section 8.4: page4.
xxii Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Special Populations: Drug-Drug Interactions.” Page 3.
xxiii Plan B® Package insert. “Clinical Pharmacology: Drug-drug Interactions.” Section 12.3: page 5.
xxiv Plan B® Package insert. “Precautions: Carbohydrate Metabolism.” Page 6.
xxv Plan B® One-step package insert. “Use in Specific Populations: Hepatic Impairment/Renal Impairment.” Sections 8.7 and 8.8: page 4.
xxvi Plan B® Package insert. “Precautions: Fertility Following Discontinuation.” Page 7.
xxvii Plan B® Package insert. “Precautions: Pregnancy.” Page 6.
xxviii Plan B® Package insert. “Use in Specific Populations: Pregnancy.” Section 8.1: Page 3.
xxix Plan B® Package insert. “Warnings.” Page 5.
xxx Plan B® Package insert. “Indications and Usage.” Section 1: page 2.
xxxi Plan B® Package insert. “Drug Abuse and Dependance.” Page 8.
xxxii Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Drug Abuse and Dependance.” Section 9: page 4.
xxxiii Plan B® Package insert. “Overdosage.” Page 8
xxxiv Plan B® One-Step Package insert. “Overdosage.” Section 10: Page 4
xxxv Plan B® Package insert. “Precautions: STD/HIV.” Page 6.