Emergency Contraception Facts: Is Plan B an Abortion Pill?

What’s the truth about abortion pills and morning-after pills? Is Plan B an abortion pill? Let’s clear the confusion here by discussing how each one works.

Getting ready to take her birth control, Amanda realizes something’s wrong. It’s Monday, yet her birth control tab says she’s taking Friday’s pill.

Suddenly Amanda realizes she forgot to take her birth control for the past 2 days. Since her boyfriend was just visiting for the weekend, now she wonders if she might be pregnant.

Close to 50% of all pregnancies in America aren’t planned. If Amanda’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be she could choose to have a medically induced abortion. However, if the pregnancy hasn’t begun, Plan B would be her best choice.

How does a medical abortion work, and is Plan B an abortion pill? Read on to find out.

Is Plan B an Abortion Pill?

Is plan B an abortion pill? The short answer is no. For an abortion to take place there has to be a pregnancy to abort.

Plan B isn’t an abortion pill because it only prevents a pregnancy from occurring. This means that Plan B is a form of emergency contraception. Emergency contraception is a type of birth control that works after having unprotected sex.

Here are instances where Plan B can help:

  • You had unprotected sex
  • The condom fell off
  • The condom broke
  • Your diaphragm moved out of place
  • You missed more than 1 birth control dose

If you aren’t on birth control, or your birth control method fails, Plan B is there to save the day. Once your pregnant an emergency contraceptive won’t work.
Plan B requires that you take it within 72 hours after having unprotected sex.

However, the sooner you take it the better! It’s not a bad idea to pre-buy Plan B, and store it somewhere safe in case you ever need it. Once your pregnant an emergency contraceptive won’t work.

How Plan B Works

Plan B contains levonorgestrel, a hormone found in many birth control pills. However, the levels of levonorgestrel found in Plan B are much higher than the levels in standard birth control options. The increased levels of levonorgestrel can temporarily stop your body from releasing an egg into the ovary.

It’s also possible that Plan B will be able to prevent the fertilization of an egg. Finally, plan B also can stop a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterus. Since plan B is a contraceptive pill, you won’t be terminating a pregnancy. Instead, you’ll only be preventing one.

Do You Need a Prescription for Plan B?

You don’t have to visit your doctor to get Plan B. Instead, all you’ll need to do is visit your local pharmacy. In many pharmacies, Plan B is available for consumers on the shelves.

At other pharmacies, however, you may have to speak to a pharmacist to get the medication. When you’re purchasing Plan B, feel free to ask the pharmacist any questions you might have.

How to Use Plan B

It’s never a good idea to use Plan B, instead of using birth control. Regularly taking birth control allows the levels of levonorgestrel to build up in your body. As a result, birth control you take regularly is more effective than relying on Plan B.

Side Effects of Taking Plan B

If you’ve never taken Plan B before, it’s helpful to know what to expect. While some individuals experience no side effects at all, others will experience every side effect possible.

Here are some of the common side effects of using Plan B:

  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Tender breasts
  • Headache

In addition to the side effects above, you might also notice changes in your menstrual cycle. You may have an early, late, or unusually short period after using Plan B. It’s also possible that the amount you bleed during your period will be different than what you’re used to.

What to Do After Taking Plan B

After taking Plan B, there are several things you can do to protect your health. First, if you’re planning on being sexually active, make sure you continue using your regular birth control method.

Next, make sure you’re not pregnant. We suggest you take a home pregnancy test about a month after taking Plan B.

If you take the test and it’s negative, but then you miss your period, take another pregnancy test. You can also ask your doctor to do a urine or blood test for earlier pregnancy detection.

Finally, if you had unprotected sex, it’s a good idea to undergo testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your gynecologist, or Planned Parenthood, can help you set up a full STI panel. They’ll be able to test your vaginal discharge for things like chlamydia or trichomoniasis.

A blood test will also help test you for HIV or genital herpes. After completing testing, it’s a good idea to retest in about 6 months. Since some STIs take longer to show up, the followup tests could catch something that wasn’t showing up for the first round of tests.

What Is an Abortion Pill?

When you hear someone refer to the abortion pill, they’re talking about 2 separate medications. Mifepristone and misoprostol are the 2 medicines used to end a pregnancy. In some cases, doctors will use methotrexate with misoprostol instead.

A Closer Look at Mifepristone

Mifepristone, or RU 486, is a medication specifically used to cause an abortion for early pregnancies. You can effectively use mifepristone up until the 10th week of pregnancy. That means up to 70 days after the beginning of your last menstrual cycle, mifepristone can be effective.

Mifepristone works by preventing progesterone from allowing the pregnancy to continue. By blocking the naturally occurring progesterone from entering your system, the pregnancy can’t continue.

Your doctor will either give you mifepristone to take orally, or they’ll inject you during the first office visit. Next, the medication misoprostol will finish the process.

Understanding Misoprostol

Misoprostol is the 2nd medication you take orally to cause a medically induced abortion. You’ll want to take the medication exactly as your doctor directs you to. There’s also usually an information leaflet that comes with the medication.

We suggest you thoroughly read the informational leaflet. If you have any questions at all about the drug, don’t hesitate to ask a doctor or pharmacist for answers.

Paying for Abortion Medication

Several different factors will impact the cost of your abortion medication.

Here’s a few of the price affecting variables:

  • Type of testing
  • Region of country
  • Lab work needed
  • Office visited

Instead of guessing what you’ll have to pay, it helps to get the facts. We suggest you call your local abortion clinic and ask them to lay out the total costs you’ll incur. If you’re unable to pay in full, ask the clinic about any discounts or payment plans they have available.

What to Expect With a Medical Abortion

To get the medications misoprostol and mifepristone, you’ll first have to visit a doctor. You’ll likely need to complete 2 doctor visits before your treatment’s complete. The first visit to the doctor will be to confirm whether or not you’re pregnant.

After confirming you’re pregnant, the doctor will check to see if it’s a normal pregnancy. For instance, if the pregnancy is outside the womb it’s ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy isn’t standard, and the doctor won’t be able to use medication for an abortion.

However, if the pregnancy is in the womb, using misoprostol and mifepristone, will still be an available option. After confirming the pregnancy’s normal, the doctor will probably want to do an ultrasound.

The ultrasound helps the doctor determine if you’re less than 10 weeks pregnant. If you’re over 10 weeks pregnant, you may need to explore surgical options instead of medication.

During the first visit, the doctor will give you the medications to induce your abortion. The second doctor’s visit will be to confirm that you’re no longer pregnant.

How Long Does a Medical Abortion Take?

The entire abortion process only takes 24-48 hours to complete. After you’ve properly taken the abortion medications, you’ll begin to notice side effects.

Here’s a shortlist of symptoms you might experience:

  • Heavy cramps
  • Nausea
  • Slight fever
  • Bleeding

The intensity of the side effects, as well as how long they last, vary from person to person. While 1 person may only experience bleeding for a couple of days, others may continue bleeding for weeks. Make sure you discuss the side effects you’re experiencing with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Love Your Body

The next time someone asks, “Is Plan B an abortion pill?”, you’ll know the answer. Plan B is an emergency contraceptive, which is not the same as an abortion.

However, there are pills your doctor can give you to induce an abortion. We hope our article was able to empower you with the knowledge you need to take the best care of yourself. For more ways to love your body, check out the rest of this site.

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