Plan B is a pharmaceutical dosage form which contains levonorgestrel; a known emergency contraceptive taken after unprotected sexual intercourse to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Plan B also referred to as Plan B One-Step is classed a pill used for emergency contraception. That is, contraceptive given subsequent to the failure of other forms of birth control such as condom breakage and/or withdrawal method. In the same context, it is at times called the morning after pill or the day after pill.

Studies have shown that this pill is effective the sooner it is taken after having an unprotected sexual encounter. So, the fact that it is called the morning after pill does not mean that one will have to wait for a long time after sex before taking plan B pill.

The pill contains 0.75milligrams of levonorgestrel (a second generation progestin). This is usually incorporated in low dose in many birth control pills.

The mechanisms of action of plan B.

Plan B pill, depending on the current stage of a woman’s cycle, elicits its effect either by preventing ovulation process (the release of egg from the ovary) or by interfering with the egg fertilization process.

Plan B and InfertilityPlan B causes changes in a woman’s cervical mucus and the uterine lining. This effect hardens this part of a woman’s reproductive system making it difficult for the sperm to get to the uterus. Hence, the fertilized egg cannot undergo implantation. It is different from RU-486; an abortion pill. It does not cause miscarriage, abortion or infertility in women. Consequently, it will not stop the development of the fetus once the implantation of the fertilized egg has taken place in the uterus. In other words, plan B pill will not elicit effect in a pregnant woman.

How long is Plan B effective?

The degree of effectiveness of plan B depends on when it is used after an unprotected sexual intercourse.

When it is administered 72 hours subsequent to unprotected sexual intercourse, plan B one step will probably reduce the risk of getting pregnant by about 89%. When used within 24 hours, it is about 95% effective.

Before you take this pill

Though not as effective as regular contraception approaches, it will work effectively if properly used and should not be administered as a main pill for birth control. It is not for routine use.

On the other hand, the pill does not protect one against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Disregard the use of this pill if you are pregnant because it will not terminate an already begun pregnancy.

Inform your doctor, prior to its administration, if you are allergic to any drug or diabetic. This is because one may need to undergo some special tests in the course of treatment.

Levonorgestrel (plan B pill) passes through the breast milk and can cause harm to the baby. Nursing mothers should consult their doctors prior to its use.

In a case of vomiting after a dose of the pill, consult the doctor. A doctor’s examination is recommended three (3) weeks after the dose of this pill. The morning after pill should be stored at room temperature and away from heat and moisture. See a doctor if you miss a dose of the pill.

Plan B side effects

After the intake of 1.5mg levonorgestrel in some clinical trials, the common effects (these are reported by 10% or more) included: dizziness, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, uterine pain, delay of menstruation, heavy menstruation, uterine bleeding, or fatigue; common effects (reported by 1% to 10%) included diarrhea, vomiting and painful menstruation. These side effects usually disappeared within 48 hours.

The common side effects of levonorgestrel:

  • Longer menstrual period;
  • Absence of Menstrual Periods;
  • Bleeding Not Related to Menstrual Period;
  • High Blood Sugar;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Dizzy;
  • Enlarged Ovary;
  • A Feeling to Throw Up;
  • Head Pain;
  • Infrequent Menstruation;
  • Low Energy;
  • Mood Changes;
  • Nervousness;
  • Ovarian Cyst;
  • Stomach Cramps;
  • Water Retention;
  • Weight Gain.

The infrequent side effects of levonorgestrel:

  • Depression;
  • Milk Discharge in Men or Women when Not Breastfeeding;
  • Rash;
  • Change of Life Signs;
  • Acne;
  • Altered Desire for Sexual Intercourse;
  • Breast Tenderness;
  • Chronic Insomnia;
  • Hair Loss;
  • Yellowish Brown Patches on the Skin.

The rare side effects of levonorgestrel:

  • Obstruction of a Blood Vessel by a Blood Clot.

Contraception is employed as an approach to handling the incidence of unwanted pregnancy. Contraceptive should not be misused or used with the intention of preventing any disease. Plan B pill should be used only as an emergency contraceptive.  

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