Plan B One-Step

Avoid pregnancy with Plan B One-Step morning after pill

Plan B One-Step 15mg tablet is an emergency contraception commonly known as the ‘morning-after pill’ to prevent pregnancy in case you had unprotected sex, or if your contraception method failed. In the following article, the reader will find information about Plan B and its effect, how it works, the ingredients it contains, recommended dosage and how to take the drug, some warnings, as well as general side effects. Doctors at Medzino can issue a prescription for Plan B if you are suitable.

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Information

Reviewed by Dr Roy Kedem, MD

Information last reviewed 10/26/19

About

What is Plan B?

Plan B One-Step, also known as the morning-after pill, is a single tablet that you can take to prevent pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex, missed your scheduled birth control, or suspect that your birth control may have failed. 

Some situations where you might want to use plan B include: your partner’s condom tore, you lost track of your “safe days”, you missed one or more doses of your regular birth control, your diaphragm slipped out of place, you were forced to have sex. Using the withdrawal method is not a reliable method of contraception in general, however, if unintentional ejaculation occurs during penetration, Plan B can be used to prevent pregnancy.  

Plan B is meant as an emergency contraceptive only and does not replace regular birth control methods. It is very important that you use regular birth control if you are sexually active and do not intend to become pregnant. There are many different methods of birth control available.  Talk to your physician about your options to find out which one is best for you. 

Plan B does not in any way affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future. However, please note that Plan B is not indicated for termination of an existing pregnancy (abortion) and does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Do not use Plan B if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.

How does Plan B work?

Plan B contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic (man-made) version of the hormone progesterone, which is produced by the ovaries. Plan B contains a higher dose of levonorgestrel (1.5 mg) than other levonorgestrel-containing birth control pills.  Levonorgestrel works by delaying or stopping the release of an egg from the ovary.

How effective is Plan B One-Step?

Plan B One-Step is most effective when taken soon after having unprotected sex; its efficacy will subsequently begin to decrease, the longer the interval between intercourse and ingesting the pill. If taken within 24 hours, levonorgestrel pills can reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 95%; after around 72 hours, effectivity drops to around 89%. Therefore, it is important that the pill is taken as soon as possible after sex for it to have optimum effect.

Who should take Plan B One-Step?

Plan B One-Step is intended for women who have had unprotected sex within a period of 72 hours and wish to prevent pregnancy.  There are several circumstances under which a woman is at risk of becoming pregnant unintentionally. These include:

  • Having sex during the fertile window without contraception
  • Not using any birth control during sex
  • Failure of a birth control method, (i.e. condom splitting, diaphragm moving out of place)
  • Missing one or more doses of birth control pills
  • Forgetting to apply a new patch or ring
  • Unintentional ejaculation while using the withdrawal method
  • Nonconsensual sex

Ingredients

Active ingredients

Plan B contains the active ingredient levonorgestrel at a concentration of 1.5mg.

Inactive ingredients

Plan B also contains the following inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, potato starch and talc.

Dosage

How to take Plan B

Take Plan B One-Step 1.5 mg tablet orally (by mouth) as soon as you can within 72 hours of unprotected sex or failed contraception. The sooner you take Plan B, the better it works. You can take Plan B during your menstrual cycle, day or night, with or without food. Do not take more than one dose of any kind of morning-after pill, as it might make you feel nauseous and will not increase protection against pregnancy.

If for any reason you throw up within 2 hours of taking Plan B, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately to discuss whether to take another dose.

What should I do if it has been more than 72 hours since I had unprotected sex?

If you had unprotected sex more than 72 hours ago, then Plan B One-Step will no longer be effective in preventing a pregnancy. In this case, you will have to either take Ella – an alternative emergency contraception – or have an IUD inserted into your uterus. Both methods can be employed up to 5 days after unprotected sex to effectively protect against an unwanted pregnancy.

Side Effects

Plan B One-Step Side Effects

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Lower abdominal cramps
  • Lighter, heavier, early, or late period
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Breast tenderness

For some women it may be that their next period comes earlier or later than expected, heavier or lighter than usual. They may also experience changes such as spotting or bleeding before their next period. Take a pregnancy test if your period is more than a week late.

If these symptoms persist or cause distress, talk to your doctor.

WARNING

Seek medical attention if you experience severe lower abdominal pain 3 to 5 weeks after taking Plan B in order to evaluate for an ectopic pregnancy.  An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This condition places you at risk of serious or critical hemorrhaging.

Seek medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction to Plan B (hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face/tongue/throat).

Contraindications

Plan B is contraindicated in the case of known or suspected pregnancy. Plan B is not an abortion pill.

Drug interactions

Some drugs or herbal products may interfere with the effectiveness of Plan B. Avoid using Plan B at the same time as the following drugs or herbal products:

  • Barbitutates
  • Bosentan
  • Carbamazepine
  • Felbamate
  • Griseofulvin
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Rifampin
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Topiramate

Treatment Options

There are several options of emergency birth control available to women who have had unprotected sex. Plan B, and other pills containing generic levonorgestrel, are most effective when taken within 3 days of having sexual intercourse; however, there are alternatives, which can work up to 5 days after sex.

Ella

Ella contains ulipristral acetate, which works by altering the body’s progesterone levels to delay or prevent ovulation, and is just as effective when taken on day 5 as it is on day 1 after sex. This option is best for women who have had sex during the time of ovulation when the risk of falling pregnant is highest. It may also be more effective for women who are overweight or obese – with a BMI of 26 or more. While Plan B – and other emergency contraception – is effective in preventing pregnancy, it should not be used as a substitute for regular birth control. As the name indicates, such contraception should only be used in emergencies.  Regular contraception is more effective, has fewer side effects, and is less expensive than the morning after pill.  

Intrauterine device (IUD)

The intrauterine device (IUD) is another viable option for women who require emergency contraception. This is a small, t-shaped device, made of copper and plastic, that is inserted into the uterus to prevent an egg from being fertilized. It may be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex and is proven to be around 99% effective. Unlike the morning after pills, an IUD can safely be left in as an ongoing contraceptive method for several years, and will not interact with any other medications.

Q&A

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.

  1. Plan B One-Step, [website], https://www.planbonestep.com/how-plan-b-works/ [last accessed 7 April 2019]
  2. FDA, ‘Plan B One-Step’, [website], July 2009, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021998lbl.pdf [last accessed 7 April 2019]
  3. WebMD, ‘Levonorgesterl Emergency Contraception’, [website], 7 June 2018, https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/plan-b#1 [last accessed 7 April 2019]
  4. NHS, ‘Emergency Contraception’, [website], 22 February 2018, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/emergency-contraception/ [last accessed 7 April 2019]
  5. Planned Parenthood, ‘What’s the Plan B morning-after pill?’, [website], https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/morning-after-pill-emergency-contraception/whats-plan-b-morning-after-pill [last accessed 7 April 2019]

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