Boxes of Plan B "morning after pill" at a pharmacy over the counterShare on Pinterest
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  • Plan B is an oral emergency contraceptive used to help prevent a potential pregnancy before it even starts, commonly referred to as “the morning-after pill.”
  • Many women are looking to stock up on Plan B following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Experts say while it may be a good idea to stock up on Plan B before you need it, there are things to consider, and the pill is not meant to be used as regular contraception.

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, thousands of women across the United States are looking for answers to what this will mean for reproductive health and safety. As a response, more women around the country are looking to stock up on the long-time emergency contraception solution called Plan B.

The Supreme Court’s decision is a monumental step back for women’s rights in our country, especially for states that have “trigger laws” that went into effect immediately following the decision. Additional states have trigger laws that will go into effect in the coming weeks or after the state takes an additional step.

Three states with such laws were able to ban abortion immediately, thus not only eliminating the option of future abortion for the women who live there but also canceling the already scheduled abortion appointments in those states.

“The Supreme Court has taken away our right to abortion. The Court has failed this country but delivered a victory to the politicians who have been pushing to control our decisions for decades,” said Sarah Diemert, WHNP, Director of Medical Standards Integration and Evaluation at Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “It’s concerning that the reasoning for overturning Roe, used in this decision, could also put other rights at risk, including access to birth control and emergency contraceptives.”

As more women are turning to stock up on the Plan B pill in the event of the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, here is what you need to know about stocking up on the pill.

Plan B is an emergency contraception pill used to help prevent a potential pregnancy before it even starts. The pill (usually a double dose) contains the hormone progesterone, released by the ovaries and involved in the menstrual cycle.

Plan B is a really strong dose of birth control and works like other birth controls to prevent pregnancy. It stops the release of an egg from the ovary and may prevent sperm from fertilizing the ovary.

The pill works before the sperm even has the opportunity to fertilize the egg. It’s more akin to fast-acting birth control, but to be most effective, it must be taken within five days of having sex. It does not terminate a pregnancy that has already begun.

“It’s best if taken as soon as possible after having sex, especially within the first three days,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an OB-GYN at Lenox Hill Hospital. . “It has an efficacy rate of 98 percent when taken in the first 72 hours.”

You do not need a prescription for the Plan B pill, regardless of age. You can find it over the counter at most pharmacies.

If you are planning on stocking up on Plan B, be aware that the pills do not last forever. Fortunately, the pill can last for years but it is always a good idea to check the expiration date. The pill will not work after it has expired.

“This is traditionally emergency contraception, meaning patients buy it when they need it,” said Wu. “It’s not something that people keep for years and years. So just be sure to look at the expiration date.”

“Since some emergency contraception — like Plan B — works better the sooner you take it, it can be a good idea to buy and store it BEFORE you need it. You can keep it somewhere safe, and it will be there for you, just in case. But keep in mind that stockpiling, or hoarding, emergency contraception can limit the ability of other people in your community to find emergency contraception if they need it,” said Diemert.

Keep Plan B pills in a cabinet or drawer where it is not exposed to direct sunlight and humidity is minimal.

Plan B is referred to as emergency contraception because it is designed exactly for that purpose — emergencies. It’s commonly referred to as “the morning-after pill” because you are meant to take it as close to having unprotected sex as possible.

Because it is an intense form of birth control, it is not meant to be used as regular contraception. Side effects of Plan B include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps

“We don’t recommend using it for regular contraception,” Wu added. “It causes nausea and can cause bleeding. It’s not a good feeling on this pill. That’s just something to watch out for and not be surprised by.”

If you are wanting to enjoy sex but lower the risk of pregnancy, then oral contraception, IUDs, contraceptive rings, condoms, etc., are the preferred options. However, sometimes things happen, like condoms breaking or an accidentally missed pill that may increase the risk of pregnancy. Also, unfortunately, not all sex is consensual, as is in the cases of rape or incest. In these situations, the Plan B pill would likely be the best course of action for women who want to decrease the risk of pregnancy.