Understanding Potential Side Effects of Plan B, the Morning-After Pill

plan b side effects

The Plan B pill, also known as the morning-after pill or emergency contraception, is marketed as a type of birth control that can be taken after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure to help prevent pregnancy.

Plan B contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone that is also used in some regular birth control pills.

The mechanism of action of Plan B is believed to work in one or more ways:

1. Inhibiting Ovulation

Plan B can prevent the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation), which is necessary for fertilization to occur. By delaying or inhibiting ovulation, Plan B reduces the chances of sperm and egg meeting.

2. Impeding Fertilization

If ovulation has already occurred, Plan B can alter the environment within the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and fertilize it. It can also affect the mobility of the sperm, making it less likely for them to reach the egg.

3. Interfering with Implantation

Plan B may also have an effect on the lining of the uterus (endometrium), potentially making it less receptive for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.

NOTE: Conception is when the sperm and egg come together and the pregnancy begins. The fertilized egg then travels to implant itself to the wall of the uterus this is where the baby is secured and is feed. There is debate on whether Plan B is a medical abortion, based on the definition of conception the answer is yes when referring to the mechanism of Plan B in #2 and #3 however not in #1 of the above definitions of the process.

Common Side Effects of Plan B

Like any medication, Plan B can have side effects. Common side effects of Plan B may include:

1. Nausea: This is one of the most common side effects of Plan B. Some women may experience mild to moderate nausea after taking the pill. It is recommended to take Plan B.

2. Abdominal pain: Some women may experience lower abdominal pain or cramping after taking Plan B.

3. Fatigue: Plan B can cause temporary feelings of tiredness or fatigue in some women.

4. Headache: Headaches are another possible side effect.

5. Breast tenderness: Some women experience breast tenderness or sensitivity after taking Plan B.

6. Irregular menstrual bleeding: Plan B affects your menstrual cycle and causes changes in your period. Your next period may come earlier or later than expected, and the flow may be lighter or heavier than usual. These changes are generally temporary and should normalize within a few cycles.

It is important to note if you experience severe or persistent side effects or have any concerns, contact your doctor right away.

Serious Side Effects

Serious side effects associated with Plan B are rare, but they can occur.

1. Allergic reaction: Some women may experience an allergic reaction to Plan B, although this is extremely rare. Signs of an allergic reaction may include hives, itching, swelling (particularly of the face, tongue, or throat), severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

2. Ectopic pregnancy: While Plan B is designed to prevent pregnancy, it does not guarantee 100% effectiveness. In rare cases where pregnancy occurs despite taking Plan B, there is a small risk of the pregnancy being ectopic, which means the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can be serious and require medical intervention. There is great debate and not enough research, about 2% of Plan B users have experienced an ectopic pregnancy requiring medical intervention.

3. Changes in menstrual cycle: As mentioned earlier, Plan B can cause changes in your menstrual cycle, including irregular bleeding. While this is generally considered a normal side effect, if you experience heavy or prolonged bleeding, or if you have concerns about your menstrual cycle, you should consult a healthcare professional.

Free Pregnancy Testing is Available

If you’ve taken Plan B or another emergency contraception medication, you may want to make an appointment for a free pregnancy test. We here at Women’s Resource Medical Centers are here to provide free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds as well as counseling for men and women who are considering abortion.

Contact us today if you have further questions.