Frequently asked questions
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The basics of Plan B
Plan B One‑Step sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill,” is emergency contraception pill that helps prevent pregnancy before it starts when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex.
Plan B is a backup method of preventing pregnancy and should not be used as regular birth control. Use as directed.
Plan B can significantly decrease the chance that you get pregnant. When used as directed, about 7 out of every 8 women who could have gotten pregnant did not become pregnant after taking Plan B.
Birth control (or contraception) is any method, medicine, or device used to prevent a pregnancy before it starts. There are many different types of birth control. Some work better than others at preventing pregnancy and no method is 100% effective. But your chances of getting pregnant are lower if you use a more effective method.
Primary methods of birth control are meant to be used before sex to prevent a pregnancy. These methods can range from things like condoms (which can be found right at the store without a prescription) to birth control pills or IUDs (which need to be prescribed by your doctor).
Emergency contraception (like Plan B) is a form of birth control that is meant to be used if your primary method failed (like a condom broke or you missed pills) or you forgot to use primary birth control. Plan B is used to help prevent pregnancy after sex and must be taken within 72-hours after unprotected sex or if your primary birth control failed. The sooner you take it, the better it will work. It is not meant to be used as a regular form of birth control because it is not as effective.
If you find that you are using Plan B frequently, talk to your doctor about finding a primary birth control method (a “plan A” method) that is right for you.
We continue to hold the same belief as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which states that there are no safety concerns that preclude the use of levonorgestrel emergency contraceptives in women generally, and continue to believe that all women, regardless of how much they weigh, can use Plan B to prevent unintended pregnancy following unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. The most important factor affecting how well Plan B works is how quickly it is taken. When Plan B emergency contraception is taken as directed, within 72 hours after unprotected sex or birth control failure, it can significantly decrease the chance that a woman will get pregnant. In fact, the earlier the product is taken after unprotected intercourse, the better it works.
Emergency contraception is not meant to be used as a regular form of birth control because it is not as effective. If you find that you are using Plan B frequently, talk to your doctor about finding a primary birth control method that is right for you.
Plan B helps prevent pregnancy by temporarily delaying ovulation. That is, it works by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary, so there’s no egg to meet the sperm. No egg, no fertilization, no pregnancy.
Plan B will not impact your ability to get pregnant in the future.
Plan B is not an abortion pill and it will not be effective if a woman is already pregnant. Plan B will not harm an existing pregnancy.
Yes! Plan B does not impact the effectiveness of any regular birth control methods, so you can continue your regular birth control right away—or start one, if you don’t have a regular method.
Taking Plan B
Plan B, sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill,” is emergency contraception you can take after:
- You didn’t use any form of birth control or had unprotected sex
- There was an issue with your regular birth control method (eg, the condom broke or slipped)
- You missed a dose (or more) of your regular birth control pill
You can take Plan B up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex. The sooner it’s taken after unprotected sex, the better it works.
Plan B One‑Step is one pill that you place in your mouth and swallow, preferably with water. You can take Plan B with or without food. The most important thing to know about taking Plan B is that it must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex to help prevent pregnancy before it starts. The sooner you take it, the better it works.
Yes, you can use Plan B when you are breastfeeding. In general, no harmful effects of progestin-only pills, like Plan B, have been found on breastfeeding performance or on the health, growth, or development of the infant. However, random cases of decreased (less) milk production in mothers have been reported.
Plan B emergency contraception should not be used as a regular method of birth control. However, if you have already used Plan B, it can be safely used again after another instance of unprotected sex or birth control failure. It will not affect a woman’s future fertility.
Plan B doesn’t provide long-term protection against future pregnancy—it works to help prevent pregnancy after only one act of unprotected sex or birth control failure.
Plan B only stays in your body for a short amount of time. It doesn᾿t provide long-term protection against future pregnancy; when taken as directed it works to help prevent pregnancy after only one incident of unprotected sex. If you are sexually active, even occasionally, see your healthcare professional or visit a family planning center/clinic to find a regular method of birth control that suits you.
Do not take Plan B:
- If you’re already pregnant, because it won’t work
- If you’re allergic to levonorgestrel or any of the ingredients in Plan B
- In place of regular birth control
- If you’re male
This product is not intended for use in postmenopausal women.
Use before the first menstrual period is not appropriate.
When used as directed, Plan B is safe and effective.
Some women may experience side effects, including:
- a period that’s lighter, heavier, early, or late
- lower abdominal cramps
- breast tenderness
Some women taking Plan B may have changes in their period, such as spotting or bleeding before their next period. If your period is more than a week late, it’s possible you might be pregnant. Get a pregnancy test and follow up with your healthcare professional.
If you vomit within 2 hours of taking Plan B, talk to your healthcare professional to find out if you should repeat the dose.
Examples of drugs or herbal products that could decrease the effectiveness of Plan B include barbiturates, bosentan, carbamazepine, felbamate, griseofulvin, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, rifampin, St. John᾿s wort, topiramate, and certain HIV/AIDS medications.
Contact your healthcare professional before taking Plan B if you have any concerns or are taking any of these medications.
Getting Plan B
No. You can find Plan B yourself in the family planning aisle—no prescription or ID needed. There’s also no age requirement—anyone can buy it.
No. Plan B is available for purchase in every state—no prescription or ID needed. There’s also no age requirement. Anyone can buy it.
Plan B and other emergency contraception brands have been approved since 2013 for purchase without a prescription, ID or age restriction. Plan B can be found at all major retailers across the country, in every US state, in the family planning aisle.
The availability and access of Plan B is governed nationally by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Plan B is not in any way connected to Roe v Wade. Plan B will continue to be made available at all major retailers without a prescription, ID or age restriction regardless of any rulings on abortion restrictions.
Foundation Consumer Healthcare will continue to advocate that no legal barriers should limit a woman’s access to Plan B emergency contraception.
Plan B has a shelf life of four years. For the exact month and year that the Plan B is set to expire, you can refer to the information printed on the side of the box. Store the product at room temperature between 68‑ and 77‑degrees Fahrenheit.
You can find Plan B yourself in the family planning aisle of all major retailers, including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Target, and Walmart. It’s also available at smaller pharmacies and some food stores around the country.
Prefer to order Plan B online? You can buy it directly from our site.
Remember, Plan B must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex. If you need it right away, you can get it right off the shelf at the stores above.
There are two ways to save on Plan B: a coupon or a rebate.
Offers cannot be combined.
Not sure how to bring up the topic of taking Plan B? Try the tips below.
- Start with the facts. This site is full of information to help you have a conversation about Plan B—whether it’s with a friend, family member, or partner.
- Plan ahead. Consider making a list of what you want to discuss and try practicing the conversation out loud. Think about potential responses to any concerns your friend/family member/partner might have.
- Find the right time and place. Make sure you have a private place to discuss Plan B—a place where you won’t get interrupted or feel rushed.
- Be respectful. Respect what the other person is thinking and feeling. Be open to other opinions, but remember: it’s your body and your choice.
- Practice safe sex. Discuss future contraception. Safe sex is important, even if you’re in a monogamous relationship (remember: neither birth control pills nor emergency contraception like Plan B protect against STDs or HIV/AIDS).
You can find downloadable PDFs, fact sheets, and more from Plan B on our resources page.
Check out the websites below to stay informed on what’s happening in women’s healthcare, and to learn more about birth control options and emergency contraception.
Foundation Consumer Healthcare is not responsible for the content on the websites listed above and disclaims any liability for the content of any page or site listed above.
Although the information above may be useful, it shouldn’t replace the advice of your healthcare professional. For questions about birth control and other women’s health issues, please talk to your healthcare professional.