5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Taking Plan B



Before the first time I took the morning-after pill, I was tremendously anxious. I was newly single after a long monogamous relationship, had experienced a questionably protected one-night stand the night before, and felt like I was treading completely uncharted waters. I had friends who’d taken Plan B, of course, but we’d never really discussed what it was like for them in depth. I didn’t remember learning anything about it in high school sex ed. And I didn’t bother looking up possible side effects on the internet, which I knew would be dramatic and terrify me. All these unknowns made my first Plan B experience about 10 times more stressful than it had to be.

As it turned out, I’d wind up having a perfectly uneventful and effective first go with Plan B (no side effects, no pregnancy), but I wished I’d been better educated about it and knew what to expect beforehand. That is what led me to this story and to Felice Gersh, an ob-gyn and the founder and director of the Integrative Medical Practice of Irvine in Irvine, California.

Let’s get the most basic question out of the way first: What is Plan B? According to Gersh, it’s the only form of the morning-after pill sold over the counter (so no prescription needed) and contains one and a half milligrams of the hormone levonorgestrel. The pill’s mode of action may be “to prevent ovulation, fertilization, or implantation [of an egg],” she explains.

Thankfully, I already had enough info about Plan B before taking it (thanks to my friends, by the way, not school, not the healthcare system) to know that it cannot get rid of an existing early pregnancy. Sadly, not everyone is aware of this fact. “Morning-after pills aren’t abortion pills,” Gersh confirms. “If you’ve already an implanted embryo in you, then it won’t work!” Plan B will not have any effect on the embryo whatsoever. The pill also can’t prevent the transmission of any kind of sexually transmitted infection. “Condoms should always be used when knowledge of the partner’s health status is unknown or questionable,” says Gersh.

Now that we’re all set up, let’s continue learning about what it’s really like to take Plan B. Here, five things I wish I’d known before my first morning-after pill experience.

Next up: the only birth control guide you’ll ever need.