What is the Morning-After Pill

Once you have made a decision to have sex, you may be wondering about the possible side effects of emergency contraception. On this page we provide you with helpful information about two familiar brands – Plan B One-Step(™), also known as the Morning-After Pill, and ella(R).

Plan B One-Step(™)

Plan B One-Step(™), also known as the Morning-After Pill, is intended to prevent pregnancy after known or suspected contraceptive failure, unprotected intercourse or forced sex. It contains large amounts of levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in some birth control pills. It may work by preventing the egg and sperm from meeting by delaying ovulation; it won’t disrupt an implanted pregnancy, but may prevent a newly formed life from implanting in your uterus.1

Plan B One-Step(™) consists of one pill taken within 72 hours of sex.2

Side Effects

Changes in periods
Nausea
Lower abdominal pain
Fatigue
Headache
Dizziness. 3

If your period is more than a week late, you may be pregnant from a prior sexual encounter. Plan B One-Step(™) should not be taken during pregnancy nor used as a routine form of birth control. 4, 5

There is evidence that Plan B One-Step(™) use may increase your risk for ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition.6 Women who have severe abdominal pain may have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and should get immediate medical help.

It is reported that Plan B One-Step(™) prevents an average of 84% of expected pregnancies. 7, 8  There are no long-term studies on the safety of Plan B One-Step(™) in women under 17, after repeated use or effects on future fertility.9

 

ella®10

ella® (ulipristal) is an FDA-approved emergency contraceptive for use within 5 days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Pregnancy from a previous sexual encounter should be ruled out before taking ella®. It is to be used only once during a menstrual cycle. It is estimated that taking ella® will reduce the number of expected pregnancies from 5.5% to 2%. ella® may reduce the chance of pregnancy by preventing or postponing ovulation. It also may work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in your uterus, which is a form of early abortion. 4 ella® is a chemical cousin to the abortion pill Mifeprex. Both share the progesterone-blocking effect of disrupting the embryo’s attachment to the womb, causing its death.11

The most common adverse reactions of ella® include headache, nausea, stomach (abdominal) pain, menstrual cramps, fatigue and dizziness. Women who experience abdominal pain three to five weeks after using ella® should be evaluated right away for an ectopic pregnancy. Much is unknown about the drug, including its effect on women who are under 18 or over 35 years of age, taking other hormonal contraception, pregnant from a previous encounter, taking ella® repeatedly during the same cycle or are breast-feeding.

 This information is intended for general educational purposes about Plan B (the morning-after pill) only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice.


 

 

  1. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Mechanism of action. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed on February 14, 2011.
  2. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Dosage and administration. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.
  3. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Adverse reactions. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.
  4. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Contraindications. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.
  5. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Indications and usage. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.
  6. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Ectopic pregnancy. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed March 14, 2011.
  7. Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Clinical studies. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.
  8. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Emergency contraception. Practice Bulletin No. 112, May 2010.
  9. Plan B One-Step prescribing information. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.
  10. Watson Pharma, Inc. ELLA – ulipristal acetate tablet. Available at: http://pi.watson.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&p=pi&language=E. Accessed February 23, 2011.
  11. Harrison DJ, Mitroka JG. Defining reality: the potential role of pharmacists in assessing the impact of progesterone receptor modulators and misoprostol in reproductive health. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Dec 21, 2010; 45(1):115-9.