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Plan B One-Step, also known as the morning-after pill, is an oral medication that can prevent pregnancy when people have sex without contraception. Plan B does not end an already established pregnancy and does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

This article looks at Plan B One-Step, including effectiveness, potential side effects, and more.

Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) is an over-the-counter (OTC) emergency contraceptive approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For best results, a person should take it as soon as possible after having sex without using a condom or another form of barrier birth control, or if contraception has failed.

How it works

According to the FDA, Plan B can work in two ways:

  • stopping the ovary from releasing an egg
  • preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus

Because Plan B stops the ovaries from releasing an egg, the sperm has nothing to fertilize, and pregnancy will not occur. If sperm fertilizes an egg, Plan B One-Step prevents the fertilized implanting in the uterus, making pregnancy impossible.

However, if a fertilized egg does implant in the uterus, the medication becomes ineffective. Anyone who thinks they might be pregnant may consider speaking with their doctor.

Plan B One-Step is most effective when taken as soon as possible within the first 72 hours after having sex without using barrier contraception or contraception failure.

Plan B may be less effective in people near ovulation or with a higher body mass index (BMI).

Plan B is an oral tablet. A person should follow all instructions on the product and talk with a healthcare professional if they have any questions.

Kaiser Permanente recommends that individuals take one tablet with or without food within 72 hours after having unprotected sex. If they vomit within 2 hours, a doctor can advise whether it is best to take another pill.

A person should let their doctor know if they have had unexplained vaginal bleeding before taking the Plan B pill.

It is best to see a doctor 3 weeks after taking levonorgestrel contraception. They can check that the pill has worked and the individual is not pregnant or experiencing any harmful effects.

Plan B or other levonorgestrel pills are not intended for regular birth control use. Those who are breastfeeding should also seek medical advice before taking any of these drugs, as these can slow breast milk production.

Emergency contraceptive pills work only after one episode of unprotected sex. That said, individuals who engage in sexual activity without any barrier methods in the same month should take the pill again.

According to Planned Parenthood, Plan B and other levonorgestrel morning-after pills are available without a prescription for persons of any age.

They can buy it from an online provider or schedule a pick-up at their local pharmacy.

The following are the platforms and companies that offer the Plan B One-Step pill:

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

Nurx

Nurx is a company that stocks birth control medications and treatments for skin problems, STIs, and herpes among others.

The New Day pill, Plan B’s generic version, is available for $20 on the Nurx website.

Free ground shipping is available, and a person can also opt for expedited delivery at an additional cost of $15.

The company recommends that people request a prescription for Ella if they need the emergency contraception pill right away, as it comes with overnight shipping.

CVS Pharmacy

CVS Pharmacy sells the emergency contraception pill for $49.99 and allows customers to buy up to 6 packages.

It offers free shipping for CarePass members and those who spend $35 or more.

Rite Aid

The emergency contraception pill is available at Rite Aid pharmacy for $47.49, and it allows customers to pay through their flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA).

Shipping is free with an order of $34.99.

Planned Parenthood

Individuals can get the Plan B from a Planned Parenthood health center, and they can choose to attend their appointment in-person or online. A smartphone app is also available for Apple and Android users.

The website advises people to wear a cloth face covering for in-person appointments and reschedule their visit if they are experiencing shortness of breath, fever, or cough.

Walgreens

A person can buy Plan B One-Step from Walgreens for $49.99, and they can choose between pickup and delivery orders.

The website accepts FSA payments, and it also offers free shipping when customers spend $35 or more.

Target

Target stocks Plan B for $47.49 and accepts FSA and HSA payments.

The package comes with a shipping weight of 0.1 pounds (lb) and dimensions of 4.65 x 6.8 x 1.7 inches.

People can also benefit from a 90-day return guarantee.

Plan B One-Step can cause side effects for some people. According to the FDA, some reported side effects include:

The most common side effect of Plan B One-Step is heavier menstrual bleeding. Otherwise, the FDA generally regards the medication as safe. In addition, People who are breastfeeding, or chestfeeding, can use the medication without adverse effects.

A person considering taking Plan B should talk with their doctor if they take other medications. The following medications reduce the effectiveness of Plan B:

Plan B One-Step can provide the most effective birth control when taken within 12 hours. However, a person should not use the medication as their primary form of birth control.

An individual has several birth control options. Reversible birth control options include:

In some cases, a person may want a more permanent solution. A person with female reproductive organs can have a tubal ligation, in which a doctor will remove or block the fallopian tubes.

A person with male reproductive organs can have a vasectomy, in which a doctor will block or remove the tubes that transport sperm. Though often referred to as permanent procedures, in most cases, doctors can reverse them.

A person may use a different form of emergency contraceptive if they prefer. Some generic versions that are effective as Plan B when people take them within 72 hours of unprotected sex include:

  • My Way: According to the manufacturer, a person should take My Way as soon as possible if they have engaged in sexual activity without any barrier methods. Those who experience severe abdominal pain should seek immediate medical help, as they may have an ectopic pregnancy. In addition, this pill can change a person’s next expected period.
  • Next Choice One-Dose: This is available without a prescription and requires people to take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It may not be very effective for those who have a weight of more than 160 lb.
  • Take Action: This can be taken within 72 hours after engaging in unprotected sex to reduce the chance of pregnancy. According to the National Library of Medicine, a person should not use the Take Action pill as a regular birth control method or if they are already pregnant. Also, this pill can cause menstrual changes, tiredness, and breast pain among others.

Learn more about the Take Action emergency contraception pill here.

A person may also wish to take Ella, which is the branded version of ulipristal acetate. It can reduce a person’s chance of getting pregnant by 85% if they take it within 5 days after having unprotected sex. It is available with a prescription.

Learn more about the morning-after pill here.

People should not use the Plan B One-Step as a regular birth control pill. They should discuss with their doctor if they are interested in learning more about regular birth control and the options that are suitable for them.

Planned Parenthood also recommends that individuals ask a doctor to determine if Plan B is safe for them. This is because levonorgestrel morning-after pills may not work if a person is taking other medications, including:

The following are some frequently asked questions about Plan B One-Step.

How long do I have to take Plan B?

Plan B is a single-dose tablet. A person can take the tablet for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but sooner is better.

Ideally, a person would take Plan B as soon as possible after having sex without using barrier contraception or having concerns that their contraception failed.

How much does Plan B cost?

Prices can vary for Plan B. A person can purchase Plan B One-Step for around $50 online. However, it may be best to buy the medication at a local pharmacy due to its time-limited effectiveness.

Does health insurance cover plan B?

Plan B One-Step is an OTC medication. This means that most insurance companies will not cover the costs. A person may be able to use their HSA or other medical savings to purchase the medication.

Plan B One-Step is a single-dose emergency contraceptive. A person should not use it in place of regular birth control methods. The medication is most effective when taken within the first 72 hours after a person has sex without contraception or if there is a risk the contraception failed.

Plan B does not protect against STIs or other conditions and will not end an already established pregnancy.