This page provides some basic information about the “Morning-After Pill.” Maybe you have heard it called “Plan B” or “emergency contraception.”
You should consult a medical professional before you take the Morning-After Pill, so that you understand all your options and have information you need about how taking the Pill will or could affect your health. At the WCC, our staff are trained to provide accurate answers to your questions, in an atmosphere that allows you to feel safe and comfortable.
If you have already taken the Morning-After Pill and you are experiencing pain, bleeding, dizziness or other physical symptoms that concern you, you should consult your doctor or go to the emergency room of your local hospital. This is a potentially serious medical situation.
Why the Morning-After Pill?
The Morning-After Pill is designed to be taken within 72 hours after you have unprotected sex, or if you believe your method of contraception has failed (such as a broken condom). The Pill contains a high dosage of a drug found in many kinds of birth control pills, and it can prevent a fertilized egg (embryo) from implanting in your uterus.1
How It Works
There are three ways the Morning-After Pill can affect you: It can prevent ovulation, the releasing of an egg into your uterus; it can prevent sperm from reaching a released egg; or it can irritate the lining of your uterus so that a fertilized egg (embryo) is prevented from attaching and growing.2
Does It Cause an Abortion?
You should know that fertilization of an egg can occur mere moments after unprotected sex.3 This means that by the time you take the Morning-After Pill, an embryo (new human life) may have already begun. In such a case, taking the Morning-After Pill can cause a very early abortion, because it can end the life of the embryo by preventing it from implanting in your uterus.
Are There Any Side Effects?
The Morning-After Pill can cause some side effects to you. These include nausea, fatigue, cramping, dizziness, and unpredictable menstrual period.4
The cramping and abdominal pain caused by the Morning-After Pill sometimes prevents women from discovering they have a serious condition called an “ectopic pregnancy,” which happens when an egg is fertilized outside your uterus. The Morning-After Pill cannot prevent or end an ectopic pregnancy. This potentially life-threatening condition requires emergency care. If you have severe abdominal pain more than three weeks after using the Morning-After Pill, you should see a medical professional to be sure you do not have such a pregnancy.5
1 FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B® One-Step; Rev. July 2009; pp.13-14; www.acessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021998lbl.pdf
2 FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B® One-Step; Rev. July 2009; p.13.
3 L. Speroff and M.A. Fritz. Clinical Gynecological Endocrinology and Infertility, 7th Edition (Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005), p. 235.
4 FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B® One-Step; Rev. July 2009; p.3.
5 FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B® One-Step; Rev. July 2009; p.6 and 17.