Plan B Side Effects: 9 Possible Symptoms & What to Do

Plan B can cause side effects like an irregular period or dizziness, which will generally last for a few days and vary from woman to woman.

Plan B, the brand name for the commonly used morning-after pill", is often used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and is often referred to as “emergency birth control.” 

Side effects can occur in both dosing formats: the single-dose 1.5 mg levonorgestrel pill or the two-dose version of levonorgestrel, each pill containing 0.75 mg. You may alternatively be advised to take 30mg of ulipristal acetate.

Common side effects

The main unpleasant side effects of Plan B can cause include:

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Bleeding between periods
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Fatigue
  5. Headache
  6. Breast tenderness
  7. Diarrhea
  8. Dizziness
  9. Irregular period, starting earlier or later than usual.

Although more rare, other Plan B side effects can also occur, such as urticaria, itchiness, facial swelling, pelvic pain, painful menstruation, or the formation of blisters on the skin.

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Treating symptoms

Some side effects and symptoms of Plan B use can be treated and even prevented, as follows:

1. Nausea and vomiting

You should eat soon after taking Plan B to reduce the any related nausea. If nausea occurs, home remedies for nausea may be prepared and taken, such as ginger or clove tea with cinnamon.

There is also nausea medication that you can purchase over-the-counter at the pharmacy. However, if you do vomit 1 to 2 hours after taking the morning-after pill, you are advised to discuss taking another dose with your doctor or pharmacist.

2. Headache and abdominal pain

If the pill causes side effects like headaches or abdominal pain, painkillers such as acetaminophen are recommended. Check out ways to get rid of a headache without medication. 

3. Breast tenderness

To relieve breast pain, apply warm compresses or take a warm bath, massaging the breast area. 

4. Diarrhea

In case of diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids and avoid greasy foods, eggs, milk and alcohol, giving preference to black, chamomile or guava leaf tea. Check out other ways to stop diarrhea effectively at home.

Frequently asked questions

Some common questions about the morning-after pill are:

1. Is it still possible to get pregnant after taking Plan b?

Yes. Although the probability of getting pregnant after taking Plan B is very low, it is still possible, especially if: 

  • The levonorgestrel pill isn’t taken within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex, or the ulipristal acetate pill isn’t taken within 120 hours;
  • Taken with antibiotics or other medication that decrease the effect of the pill;
  • Vomiting or diarrhea occur within 4 hours of taking the pill;
  • Ovulation has already occurred;
  • The morning after pill has been taken several times in the same month.

Consult a doctor or pharmacist if vomiting or diarrhea occur within 4 hours of taking the pill because it may be necessary to take a new dose of the pill to have the desired effect.

It’s important to remember that emergency oral contraception doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

2. How many times can I take Plan B?

This method of contraception should only be used sporadically as it contains a high dose of hormones. In addition, if it is taken more than once in the same month, it can lose its intended effect. Therefore, this pill should only be taken in emergency situations.

3. Can Plan B affect my period?

Yes, although generally speaking, most women who use Plan B have minimal or no significant changes to their menstrual cycle. Nonetheless, changes can last for 5 to 7 days. It is important to highlight the the repetitive or frequent use of the morning-after pill can worsen any menstrual disturbances, making it difficult to identify your fertile days and menstrual phase.

It is also important to note that bleeding usually does not occur immediately after taking the morning-after pill.

4. If Plan B is taken accidentally during pregnancy, is fetal health at risk?

There are no records of the morning-after pill causing teratogenic effects (which affect the growth and development of the fetus) if it is taken in the first trimester.

The same applies if the morning-after pill fails and you become pregnant, as you would have taken the pill way before the fetus’ initial developmental phase, when it is most vulnerable.

Contraindications for use

Plan B should not be taken by men, women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, or if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. 

An appointment with the gynecologist is advisable before using this pill in cases of high blood pressure, cardiovascular conditions, morbid obesity or if you have a history of abnormal vaginal bleeding or bleeding of unknown origin.