Sometimes, unexpected situations happen, and the chance of getting pregnant is real. Maybe you forgot your birth control. Maybe the condom broke, or you had sex without a condom. Even if he pulls out, pregnancy can still happen. It can also happen in cases of sexual assault or rape. If you had a vaginal sexual encounter in which you believe there’s a risk you may become pregnant, there is an option for what to do when this happens–the “morning after pill.”
What is the morning after pill?
The morning after pill is medication that can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It is the most effective when taken within 3 days of the sexual encounter. It is a dose of hormone called progesterone that comes in two pills with the brand name Plan B.
How does it work?
The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation (preventing the ovary from releasing an egg). Why does that work? Sperm from the man can live inside of a woman’s body for around 5 days.
The hormones in Plan B delay your ovary from releasing an egg for up to 5 days, preventing fertilization.
How do I get it?
It is available over-the-counter if you are over 18 (but you still need to go the pharmacy counter and have them get it for you), and you need a prescription for it if you are under 18.
Important things to know:
Sometimes it can make people feel a little nauseated. Most women, however, tolerate it without problems.
The egg, once it is released by the ovary, only can be fertilized for about 24 hours. So, if you ovulate up to a week after unprotected sex, there is still a chance you could get pregnant.
Because it delays ovulation, it will throw off your cycle and usually cause your period to be irregular that month. Some women’s periods will come a little early and some a little late after Plan B. Both are normal. If your period is very late, you should take a pregnancy test.
It is important to know that Plan B does NOT cause a miscarriage if you are already pregnant or if the sperm has already fertilized the egg. It is not an abortion pill.
Plan B also cannot prevent sexually transmitted infections, so you may still want to get tested.
Lastly: Plan B is not intended to be a regular method of birth control. It is truly meant to be emergency contraception only. If you are sexually active, you should consider your contraception options and speak with your doctor about which one might be best for you.