The Morning After Pill

What is the morning after pill? How does it work? How late after sex can I use it? Are there any risks? 

Plan B One-StepTM  (Morning-After Pill) is referred to as emergency contraception and is one of three types currently on the market.  It is intended to prevent pregnancy after known or suspected contraceptive failure, unprotected intercourse or forced sex.  It contains large amounts of levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in some birth control pills.  It may work by preventing the egg and sperm from meeting by delaying ovulation; it won't disrupt an implanted pregnancy, but may prevent a newly formed life from implanting in the uterus.1

Plan B One-StepTM consists of one pill taken within 72 hours of sex.2

Side effects may include changes in periods, nausea, lower abdominal pain, fatigue, headache and dizziness.3  If your period is more than a week late you may be pregnant from a prior sexual encounter.  Plan B One-Step should not be taken during pregnancy nor used as a routine form of birth control.  3, 4  

There is evidence that Plan B One-StepTM  use may increase the risk for ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition.  Women who have severe abdominal pain may have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and should get immediate medical help.  It is reported that Plan B One-StepTM  prevents an average of 84% of expected pregnancies.6, 7  There are no long-term studies on the safety of Plan B One-StepTM  in women under 17, after repeated use or effects on future fertility.8

Other Emergency Contraception


ella (ulipristal) is an FDA-approved emergency contraceptive for use within 5 days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.  Pregnancy from a previous sexual encounter should be ruled out before taking ella.  It is to be used only once during a menstrual cycle.  It is estimated that taking ella will reduce the number of expected pregnancies from 5.5% to 2%.  ella may reduce the chance ofpregnancy by preventing or postponing ovulation.  It also may work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, which is a form of early abortion.  ella is a chemical cousin to the abortion pill Mifeprex.  Both share the progesterone=blocking effect of disrupting the embryo's attachment to the womb, causing its death.

The most common adverse reactions of ella include headache, nausea, stomach (abdominal) pain, menstrual cramps, fatigue and dizziness.  Women who experience abdominal pain three to five weeks after using ella should be evaulated right away for an ectopic pregnancy.  Much is unknown about the drug, including its effect on women who are under 19 or over 35 years of age, taking other hormonal contraception, pregnant from a previouls encounter, taking ella repeatedly during the same cycle or while breast-feeding.


Combination Estrogen & Progrestin Pills

This method uses birth control pills (containing both estrogen and progestin hormones) taken in much higher concentrations than found in a normal daily dose.

Typical side effects include nausea, vomiting, lower abdominal pain and breast tenderness.  Adverse effects associated with methods using combination pills include blood clots, stroke and heart attack.

When Did You Last Have Sex?
Plan B can only be taken within 24 hours after having sex to be effective.
Are You Sure You Are Not Already Pregnant?
If you have any doubts we can offer you free pregnancy testing to be sure.
If you are already pregnant it would be important to make sure that your pregnancy is in the uterus. We can offer a free ultrasound to determine this.

We can give you information about Plan B but we don't give prescriptions or referrals