One type of over-the-counter (OTC) emergency contraception is Plan B (levonorgestrel). Emergency contraception should not be used as a regular method of birth control, even though the hormone levonorgestrel can be used for that purpose. Pregnancy after unprotected sex can be avoided using levonorgestrel.
The phrase “morning after pill” or “plan b pill” has been used occasionally. However, you do not have to wait until the morning following sex to use it. Levonorgestrel actually works better the sooner you start taking it. You only need to take one pill each dose.
Levonorgestrel, a hormone used in many birth control pills in lesser quantities, is present in the pill in 1.5 milligrammes. It will deliver a spike in hormonal contraception that most likely won’t allow ovulation, fertilisation, or implantation to occur. However, a pregnancy that has already begun won’t be harmed by emergency contraception.
For the optimum outcomes, a person should take it as soon as feasible after engaging in intercourse without the use of a condom or other form of barrier birth control, or if contraception has failed.
How does it work?
Plan B can prevent pregnancy following unprotected intercourse, depending on where you are in your cycle. Employing a dose of levonorgestrel, the artificial hormone present in birth control pills, aids in the prevention of pregnancy.
This prevents ovulation by simulating the effects of the hormone progesterone, which delays the release of an egg from the ovary. Without an egg, there is nothing for the sperm to attach to, preventing fertilization. If sperm fertilizes an egg, Plan B prevents the fertilized implanting in the uterus, making pregnancy impossible. However, if a fertilized egg implants in the uterus before a person takes Plan B, the medication will not work. Anyone who thinks they might be pregnant may consider speaking with their doctor.
Please be reminded that levonorgestrel is not the same as the abortion medication RU-486. It doesn’t result in an abortion or miscarriage. If you take it while already pregnant, it won’t work.
There have been rumours that Plan B can prevent pregnancy after fertilisation as well. But this is near impossible to prove, according to a 2019 review.
How to use Plan B
Oral tablets are Plan B. If a person has any questions, they should ask a healthcare provider in addition to adhering to all product directions.
Within 72 hours of having intercourse, people can take one tablet with or without eating. There is no need for a barrier approach. A doctor can recommend if it is better to take another medication if they vomit within the next two hours.
Before taking the Plan B pill, a person should tell their doctor if they experienced unexplained vaginal bleeding.
The optimum time to see a doctor after using levonorgestrel contraception is three weeks afterwards. They can verify that the pill was effective and that the person is neither pregnant nor suffering from any negative side effects.
Plan B is safe to take while breastfeeding and normally has no effect on breastmilk production, according to the manufacturers. However, anyone who is nursing should think about consulting a doctor before using any of these medications.
Only one sexual encounter without a barrier technique is necessary for emergency contraception pills to start working. However, those who continue their cycle of sexual activity without using any barriers should take the pill once again.
How effective is it?
If you use a levonorgestrel Plan B tablet within three days of unprotected sex, your likelihood of becoming pregnant can be reduced by 75-89%.
Plan B and other levonorgestrel morning-after pills are acceptable for use for up to five days following unprotected sex. But the earlier you take it, the better; the less effective it is the longer you wait.
However, you should be aware that Plan B One-Step is less efficient than conventional contraception. Therefore, do not use it as a method of birth control. Furthermore, it does not offer you any protection against STDs. Consider it as a backup rather than for everyday use. Plan B gets its name from this. Learn more about the efficacy of emergency contraception.
If your body mass index (BMI) is higher than 30 or you weigh more than 165 pounds, these morning-after tablets may not be effective for you. Some studies have suggested a higher level of counselling for those who fall into those two categories as a result of contradictory findings. However, they point out that there is no justification for limiting Plan B.
If Plan B’s effectiveness is affected by increasing weight and BMI, further study is required. For now, you’re free to take it, no matter how much you weigh.
Are there any side effects or risks?
The morning-after pill is extremely safe, and adverse effects from Plan B are not very often. Out of the millions of people who have taken it, there have been no reports of any significant issues.
It’s very normal for your next period to be different from how you’re used to it after you take the morning-after pill. It could be heavier, lighter, or more sporadic, and it could arrive sooner or later. Or it can be exactly the same as it always is.
When you take the morning-after pill, you can have short-term breast tenderness, an upset stomach, or a feeling of being lightheaded or disoriented. The medication will not function and you will need to take it again if you vomit within two hours of taking it.
Other side effects include:
- Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain or cramps
The morning-after pill also has a risk of failure even with proper use, and it provides no protection against STDs.
There are some people who should not take the morning-after pill. If you are already pregnant or have an allergy to one of the morning-after pill’s ingredients, avoid taking it. An already-started pregnancy cannot be terminated under Plan B. (the fertilised egg has attached to the uterus).
Where can you get it?
Drugstores and pharmacies sell Plan B over-the-counter. So you can purchase it without a prescription or a photo ID.
If it’s behind the counter, ask the pharmacist to obtain it, or you can locate it in the family planning section.
The morning-after pill is also available at fertility control facilities, community health centres, and family planning clinics.
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