Plan B One-Step emergency contraception can be used to prevent an unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure with only one pill that can be taken right away. It is now available over-the-counter, for those 15 and older (you must show a valid, proof-of-age ID). It is also available by prescription for those under 15 or if you do not have identification to prove your age. This new morning after pill should be taken within 72 hours of contraceptive failure/unprotected sex and is most effective if used within 24 hours.
- In July 2012, the FDA approved a generic equivalent to Plan B One-Step: Next Choice One Dose. This generic alternative is used in the same way as Plan B One-Step, but has different purchasing requirements. Next Choice One Dose is available "behind the counter" at pharmacies for those age 17 and older and by prescription for everyone else.
- Purchase the New Morning After Pill: Plan B One-Step emergency contraception is available over-the-counter for women and men age 15 and older. A prescription for Plan B One-Step is needed for girls under the age of 15. You must make an appointment to see a healthcare provider in order to obtain this prescription. You will have to show a government-issued ID card for proof of age.
You may still need a prescription for Plan B One-Step if you are over 14:
- For insurance coverage (make sure to inquire, ahead of time, if your insurance policy requires a prescription in order to cover the cost of the morning-after pill).
- If you don't have proper, government-issued identification to prove your age.
- Swallow the Plan B One-Step Pill: This new morning after pill only requires you to swallow ONE pill. You should take the pill as soon as possible. The manufacturer suggests taking Plan B One-Step within 72 hours of contraceptive failure or unprotected sex — but the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.
Note: In general, emergency contraception can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex. So it may still be useful to take Plan B One-Step for up to 120 hours after unprotected sex.
- The Plan B One-Step Pill Pack Consists of 1 Pill. The shelf life for this morning after pill is 24 months from date of manufacture. Each Plan B One-Step package will contain a 1-tablet course of treatment (a 1.5 mg levonorgestrel tablet). The pill is white, round, and marked G00 (on one side). Plan B One-Step should be stored at a controlled room temperature.
- Morning After Pill Cost: One package of Plan B One-Step can cost between $35 to $60 (with the average cost being around $45). Right now, you can get coupon from the manufacturer:
- Anti-Nausea Medication: One common side effect associated with Plan B One-Step include is nausea (occuring 13.7% in clinical trails)
According to Dr. Shari Brasner, a New York City-based OB/GYN: "a woman could use an anti-nausea medication before taking Plan B One-Step. But, it’s very rare to have this side effect with progesterone-only methods like Plan B One-Step, so the product should be associated with relatively low risk of nausea. Older emergency contraceptives contained estrogen, accounting for more cases of nausea."
- Vomitting: If you happen to vomit within 2 hours of taking the Plan B One-Step, you should immediately contact your doctor to discuss whether to take another pill.
You should also contact your doctor if you experience any other adverse reactions occurs.
- It is important to consult a doctor if your scheduled period is more than 1 week late, as this may indicate that pregnancy could have occurred.
- Also, call your doctor if you take a home pregnancy test and get a positive result.
- Abdominal Pain: If you are experiencing severe abdominal pain 3 to 5 weeks after taking Plan B One-Step, there could be the possibility that you have an ectopic pregnancy, so you should seek immediate medical attention -- in general, ectopic pregnancies account for approximately 2% of all reported pregnancies. Yet, up to 10% of pregnancies reported in studies of routine use of progestin-only contraceptives are ectopic.
- After Taking the Morning After Pill, Be Prepared for Possible Plan B One-Step Side Effects: Some side effects that were associated in clinical trials of Plan B One-Step include:
- Your next period may be heavier or lighter, or earlier or later
- Heavier menstrual bleeding (30.9%)
- Nausea (13.7%)
- Lower abdominal pain (13.3%)
- Fatigue (13.3%)
- Headache (10.3%)
- Dizziness (9.6%)
- Breast tenderness (8.2%)
- Delay of menses (more than 7 days) (4.5%)
- Be Sure to Use an Additional Method of Contraception: Emergency contraception, like the morning after pill, does not continue to prevent pregnancy during the rest of your menstrual cycle, so make sure to use other birth control methods (like condoms, female condoms, Today Sponge or spermicide) in order to prevent an unintended pregnancy.
- Also Keep in Mind: Though Plan B One-Step can be taken at any time during your menstrual cycle, Plan B One-Step is less likely to work if you have unprotected sex or contraceptive failure again during the same menstrual cycle after taking Plan B One-Step. The morning after pill will also be less effective if you have had unprotected sex earlier in your menstrual cycle (and did not take any emergency contraception).
- Although there have been no reports of serious complications among the thousands of females who have used emergency contraception, mild Plan B One-Step side effects could occur. If this happens, they will typically last just last a day or two.
- Because the morning after pill may cause nausea and vomiting, you can take an anti-nausea medication, like Dramamine or Bonine, one hour before taking Plan B One-Step to reduce the risk of nausea.
Just remember to read and follow the precautions on the package insert of these anti-nausea medications as the side effects of these types of medicines may include drowsiness.
- Try not to rely on emergency contraception as your main form of birth control. Frequent use of Plan B One-Step or the morning after pill can cause periods to become irregular and unpredictable.
- Plan B One-Step will also be dispensed in the same packaging, regardless of whether it is obtained over-the -counter or by prescription. The manufacturer has added a security tag to all Plan B One-Step boxes to prevent theft.
- Nine U.S. states have pharmacy-access policies that allow women of any age to obtain Plan B One-Step from participating pharmacists at select pharmacies without a prescription. These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
What You Need
- Proper, government-issued identification
- Plan B One-Step (most likely found in family planning aisle) if 15 or older
- A prescription for Plan B One-Step if under 15 or for Next Choice One Dose
- Anti-nausea medication - just in case of nausea or vomitting