When it comes to emergency contraception, there is a great deal of conflicting and confusing information out there. Unprotected sex happens for many reasons. Condoms break, birth control pills get forgotten, things go further than planned, or sex is forced on a woman. We want you to be equipped and empowered with the information you need BEFORE this happens.
How is Plan B different than the Abortion Pill?
The morning-after-pill, otherwise known as Plan B, is considered emergency contraception that may either prevent or delay ovulation. These pills are readily available over the counter and must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. It consists of a medication called Levonorgestrel, which is similar to the hormone progesterone. Plan B prevents the egg and sperm from meeting by delaying ovulation. It doesn’t disrupt an implanted pregnancy, but it may prevent a newly formed life from implanting in the uterus.
RU-486 pills, also known as the abortion pill, are much different. They end a pregnancy that has already begun developing. It is considered a non-surgical form of abortion, and women must visit an abortion clinic or doctor’s office to obtain RU-468. This drug—Mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486—blocks the action of the progesterone hormone, which is naturally produced by the mother’s body to sustain and nourish a pregnancy. When RU-486 blocks progesterone, the lining of the mother’s uterus breaks down, cutting off blood and nourishment to the baby, who then dies inside the mother’s womb. Twenty-four to forty-eight hours later, the woman must take another drug called Misoprostol (also called Cytotec), administered orally or vaginally, which causes contractions and bleeding to expel the baby from the womb.
What are the side effects of Plan B?
Side effects may include changes in your period, nausea, lower abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, and dizziness. There is evidence that Plan B may increase the risk for ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition. Women who have severe abdominal pain may have an ectopic pregnancy and should seek immediate medical attention.
If your period is more than a week late, even after taking Plan B, you may be pregnant from a prior sexual encounter or Plan B was not effective. Plan B should not be taken during pregnancy or used as a routine form of birth control.
What are the potential risks involved with Plan B?
According to a study by Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, women who use the morning-after-pill are in danger of having a high risk pregnancy. The pill dumps large amounts of hormones into the body at one time to suppress ovulation, but if a woman has already ovulated it confuses the process and may cause an ectopic pregnancy, as mentioned above. In the study, women using the pill were 10 times more likely to develop a pregnancy outside of the womb--the ectopic pregnancy we mentioned above.
Essentially, taking the morning-after pill is akin to taking a bunch of birth control pills all at once. Levonorgestrel, the hormonal medication used in Plan B, is progesterone, a hormone that is naturally produced mainly by a woman's ovaries. Large doses of progesterone have been linked to an increased risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Heart problems
- Blood clotting problems
- Uterine fibroids
Additionally, although emergency contraception may make it less likely to get pregnant, it doesn't terminate an existing pregnancy. The morning-after pill also doesn’t offer protection from sexually transmitted infections, which is a great risk for women who are engaging in unprotected sex.
What should I do if I’ve had unprotected sex?
Come see us at A Woman’s Place Medical Clinic and talk with us about your options. Knowledge is empowering and can calm many fears.
A Woman’s Place Medical Clinic is a safe place where you can confidentially discuss sexual health, pregnancy, women’s health, STI’s, and relationship issues with one of our client advocates. We are a pro-woman, non-profit, holistic health clinic. We strive to offer clarity in your pregnancy decision while caring for your body, mind and spirit. We do not benefit monetarily from your decision and will provide support to you no matter what you choose. You are more than a number to us. Feel free to contact us today to take advantage of our free services. We are here for you and ready to listen!
"Abortion Procedure: What You Need To Know--The Pill" Live Action. https://www.abortionprocedures.com/abortion-pill/
"The Morning After Pill" Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/morning-after-pill/about/pac-20394730
"Levonorgestrel Emergency Contraception" WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/plan-b#1
"Emergency Pill Linked to Risky Pregnancies" by Gatonye Gathura. Published December 2018. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001304978/morning-after-pill-linked-to-risky-pregnancies