Plan B One-Step (also known as the morning after pill) was approved by the FDA on July 13, 2009. Plan B One-Step is just one oral pill (levonorgestrel tablet, 1.5 mg). This morning after pill has replaced the old Plan B.
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, with no age restrictions.
This 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.
Time Required: Within 3 days (72) hours of unprotected intercourse (may still be effective up to 5 days/120 hours)
Here's How to Purchase Plan B One-Step:
- Plan B One-Step emergency contraception is available over-the-counter for women and men of any age. You should be able to locate it in the family planning isle of your drugstore. You may still need a prescription for Plan B One-Step 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).
How to Use Plan B One-Step:
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:
Things to Be Aware of When Using Plan B One-Step:
- 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.
- 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%)
You should also contact your doctor if 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.
- 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.
- The manufacturer has added a security tag to all Plan B One-Step boxes to prevent theft.
Also keep in mind that the over-the-counter status (with no age restrictions) only applies to Plan B One-Step. This means that if you wish to obtain a generic version like Next Choice One Dose or Next Choice (2 pill, generic) without a prescription, you must be at least 17 years of age and provide valid ID to prove your age to your local pharmacist.