“Plan B” Morning After Pills

What is it?

“Plan B” is just one brand name for the over the counter emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) or “the morning after pill”. There are many off-brand names of the pill that do the exact same thing and are usually cheaper than “Plan B”. This pill is an emergency form of hormonal birth control that can be used after unprotected sexual contact or where other forms of contraception may have failed. Plan B is designed to be used in emergencies, and not as a regular method of birth control.

How does “Plan B” work?

Over the counter, ECPs, or “Plan B,” contains a high dose of synthetic progesterone, which delays the release of an egg (ovulation). Without an egg, a pregnancy cannot be created. Plan B may also reduce lining of the uterus so that an egg can’t implant, and a pregnancy cannot occur. ECP cannot end a pregnancy if you are already pregnant.  Most packs of levonorgestrel ECP, like Plan B, have two pills. To use them:

  •  Take the first pill as soon possible after the sex act you are worried about
  •  12 hours later take the second pill or both pills can be taken at same time
  •  If you throw-up within 1 hour of taking the pills, call a pharmacist or doctor for advice on how to proceed. You may need to take Plan B again in order to make sure the pill worked.

Where can you get it?

You can get Plan B without a prescription from most pharmacies. You can also get it from the Sexual Health Centre at 179 Clarence Street.

How much does it cost?

At pharmacies, approximately $35-40 depending on the pharmacy’s dispensing fee. You can also get PLan B  for a discounted rate of $10 at the Sexual Health Centre at 179 Clarence Street.

How effective is it?

Its effectiveness depends on how quickly you take it after unprotected sex:

  •  0-24 hours after sex: 95% effective
  •  24-48 hours after sex: 85% effective
  •  49-72 hours after sex: 58% effective

Does it reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections?

No, it does not reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Reasons someone might choose this method of birth control

  • You have had unprotected sex and don’t want to become pregnant
  • Your method of birth control failed and you don’t want to become pregnant

Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control

  • You might throw up or feel nauseous
  • You might have trouble accessing it if you live in rural or remote areas

A note about body weight and Plan B

There are some concerns that ECP may not work as well in people who weigh over 165 pounds (75kg) and is not recommended for those over 176 pounds (80kg). That being said, there’s a lot of controversy over this finding, and some researchers are saying it’s better than doing nothing. The bottom line is that it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor if you weigh over 165 pounds to see whether it’s the right choice for you. Alternatively, Ella, the prescription emergency contraceptive pill does not have this concern regarding body weight and effectiveness.