Plan B (levonorgestrel) emergency contraception
- Plan B is intended to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or a known or suspected birth control failure (condom broke, late for a Depo shot, missed birth control pills).
- Plan B is NOT the "abortion pill" RU-486, and does not work if you are already pregnant.
- Plan B does not offer protection against infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Plan B is a type of emergency contraception or “EC.”
- Plan B contains one of the hormones, levonorgesterel, used in regular birth control pills.
- Some regular birth control pills can also work as emergency contraception. Learn more
- Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). Plan B does not work after an egg is fertilized.
To be most effective, Plan B should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or birth control failure, but it can be taken up to five days afterwards.
- You should not use Plan B if you are currently pregnant.
- You should not use Plan B if you have undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding.
- You should not use Plan B if you have known drug sensitivities (allergies) to progesterones.
- Plan B prevents 7 out of 8 expected pregnancies.
- If you take Plan B within 24 hours of unprotected sex, it reduces your risk of pregnancy up to 95%. This means that you could still get pregnant but it's much less likely to happen.
- Plan B is not as effective as regular contraception. Other methods, like the IUD, Depo shot, or birth control pill, are a better way to prevent unintended pregnancy.
- Ideally, you should only take emergency contraception once in a cycle, then use condoms as a backup until you have your next period.
- If you need to take emergency contraception again in the same cycle, you should try to take the same one you took the first time.
- If you can't take the same pill again, any emergency contraception is better than none so take whatever you have available.
- Plan B will not terminate an existing pregnancy.
- Plan B will not damage a fetus that is already developing.
- The most common side effects are: nausea (23%), stomach pain or cramps (18%), fatigue or tiredness (17%), headache (17%), and menstrual changes, including heavier bleeding (13.8%) or lighter bleeding (12.5%).
- There should be no change to your fertility. You can still get pregnant at a later date after using emergency contraceptives.
- You can get Plan B directly from a pharmacist without a prescription.
- If you don’t have a prescription, the pharmacy may charge a $10 consultation fee in addition to the cost of the pills.
- To avoid this fee, you can print this prescription and take it with you to the pharmacy.
You can get Plan B ahead of time so you have it "just in case." Ask your doctor or clinic at a regular visit or fill the prescription online at your convenience.If you do not have insurance, free, printable coupons are available at GoodRx.com to reduce the cost.