Plan B pill is a type of birth control or emergency contraception that can be taken so as to help prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. Even though it is sometimes referred to as the ‘morning after pill,’ women need not wait the morning after intercourse to consume it. Plan B in fact tends to be more effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex. The pill has levonorgestrel which is also present in low dosage in several oral contraceptives.
It is important to note that Plan B does not prevent pregnancy if it is taken before having sex. It has to be taken just after sex for most effective results. Plan B is generally safe to use. However some women may experience nausea, sickness, and other side effects as discussed further below.
When to take Plan B?
Plan b can be taken in the following scenarios:
- The condom tore or came off
- No form of birth control was use during sex
- The diaphragm got displaced
- If the ring was not inserted or the patch was not applied
- If a minimum of 2 or 3 active oral contraceptive intake were missed successively.
- Your partner failed to pull out in time
- Sex was forced on you
- If you believe that the birth control option used may not have worked for varied reasons.
Plan B pill should not be used in the following situations:
- A personal history of hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to the ingredients of Plan B
- If you suspect or know that you are pregnant
- If you weigh more than 165 pounds
- A personal history of untreated or undiagnosed anomalous vaginal bleeding that has occurred in the recent past.
Working mechanism of Plan B
Plan B consists of 2 pills that are consumed together. When it is taken within 3 days or 72 hours after unprotected sex, then it can help prevent pregnancy in the following manner:
- By preventing fertilization
- By temporarily stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg
- By preventing the attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterus
It may be noted that Plan B does not facilitate abortion, i.e., it does not help facilitate termination of a pregnancy.
After using Plan B, women may get their next period as expected, or a few days late or early. Most women may suffer from mild spotting for some days after using the pill.
Some women may vomit after the intake of Plan B. If vomiting occurs inside 2 hours after consuming the pill, then the medications present in the pill have not been absorbed into the body. In such cases, consult your doctor and verify if another Plan B dose is needed.
Do not have sexual intercourse before the next period occurs. In case you have sex before the next period after taking Plan B, then ensure that a contraceptive is used during intercourse.
If the period is late by 1 week, or if period does not occur 3 weeks after taking the pill, then it may be due to a possible pregnancy. Take a pregnancy test or visit your doctor.
Women who take Plan B because of missed oral contraceptives need to consult their doctor before resuming the intake of the birth control pills. Ensure that condoms or other forms of birth control are used during sex till the time you are sure that the oral contraceptives are reliably working.
Intake of Plan B with other medications such as antibiotics, anticonvulsants, St. John’s wort, rifampicin, griseofulvin, and rifabutin may lower the effectiveness of the pill.
Side effects of Plan B: Does Plan B make you sick?
Severe reactions to Plan B is very rare. Some women may experience side effects that are temporary and fade away in about 24 hours. Some of the common side effects of Plan B use are listed below:
- Pain in abdomen
- Tenderness of the breasts
- Menstrual changes
Some women may experience mild unexpected bleeding or spotting after the use of the pill. Such spotting usually disappears in a few days.The next period may occur earlier or later than normal, by a few days. Repeated use of Plan B, more than once a month or more than once during a menstrual cycle, can cause changes in the menstrual cycle. It may cause the periods to be lighter or heavier than normal, and/or the menstrual cycles may be longer or shorter than usual.
Listed below are some uncommon side effects of Plan B use. Consult a doctor if the symptoms are severe or continue for over 48 hours. Uncommon side effects of Plan B include:
- Severe headache
- Painful menstruation
- Pain in lower abdomen
- Vaginal discharge
Listed below are some abnormal and rare side effects of Plan B use. Women who experience these symptoms need to seek immediate medical attention
- Abnormal, sudden pain or cramping in the abdomen or stomach
- Formation of a rash along with itchiness
- Vaginal hemorrhage
- Uterine hemorrhage
- Any other abnormal side effects that persist or become worse.