In the U.S., Plan B One-Step is available without age restrictions to women and men (check the family planning aisle). One-pill generics (My Way and Next Choice One Dose) will soon be available on the shelf for consumers aged 17 and older, but this change has not taken effect yet; women aged 16 and younger still need a prescription. Two-pill generics (Levonorgestrel Tablets) are still available only behind the counter without prescription if you are 17 or older; younger women need a prescription.
The Plan B package instructions state that you should take 1 white pill within 72 hours after unprotected sex and 1 more white pill 12 hours later. Each dose contains 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel. The two pills are identical; it does not matter which pill you take first.
However, recent research indicates that both doses can be taken at the same time up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. The pills are more effective the sooner they are taken, so take 2 Plan B pills at the same time as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.
Plan B is gradually being replaced in pharmacies by Plan B One-Step. Plan B is available over-the counter to women and men aged 18 and older, and by prescription to younger women. If you are 17 years old, call your pharmacy first to see if they carry the new pill, Plan B One-Step, which is available over-the-counter to women and men aged 17 and older.
Facts about Plan B:
- Plan B is a way to prevent pregnancy AFTER unprotected sex
- Plan B contains only the progestin levonorgestrel
- Plan B is not the same as RU-486, the abortion pill marketed as Mifeprex in the United States
- You should not take Plan B if you are already pregnant since it will not work; however, taking Plan B if you are pregnant will not cause birth defects
- Both Plan B pills can be taken at the same time with no decrease in effectiveness or increase in side effects
- Plan B should be taken within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex and can reduce the risk of pregnancy up to 89%. But it is more effective the sooner you take it.
- Although it is highly effective, Plan B is not a substitute for a regular method of contraception because it is not as effective as regular contraceptive methods
- Plan B is more effective than emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) containing both estrogen and progestin
- Medical experts agree that Plan B is safe for almost all women
- Plan B does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
- Side effects of Plan B may include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, menstrual changes, dizziness, breast tenderness, vomiting and diarrhea
- Plan B causes less nausea and vomiting than ECPs containing both estrogen and progestin
- Plan B is now available over the counter for both women AND men 18 and over
- Women aged 17 and under still need a prescription for Plan B
- In some states, Plan B is available over the counter at select pharmacies for women of all ages
- Plan B costs about $45 when obtained directly from a pharmacist without a prescription
- Making Plan B more easily available does not promote risk-taking
- But making ECPs (like Plan B) more easily available has not yet resulted in a decrease in unintended pregnancies in any population, because women do not use EC every time they have sex
- Read about the contentious history of Plan B and the Bush Administration