There’s no limit to how often you can take the Plan B pill. This also applies to other emergency contraception (EC) or “morning after” pills.
You can and should take Plan B and other EC pills as often as you need without worrying about long-term complications.
Here’s what you need to know about potential side effects, common misconceptions, and more.
Correct. Frequent use of EC pills isn’t associated with any long-term side effects or complications.
Given this, you might be wondering why EC pills aren’t recommended as birth control if they’re indeed safe.
It’s because they’re less effective than other forms of contraception, such as the pill or condoms, at preventing pregnancy.
In other words, the most significant risk of long-term EC use is actually pregnancy.
According to a 2019 review, people who use EC pills on a regular basis have a 20 to 35 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
This isn’t true. You can take EC pills as many times as necessary per menstrual cycle.
This myth might have something to do with menstrual irregularity, the most common side effect of EC pills.
Depending on which EC pill you take and when you take it, these irregularities can include a shorter cycle, a longer period, or spotting between periods.
The logic is that in limiting yourself to one EC pill per cycle, you’re less likely to experience menstrual irregularity.
But an irregular period is far less risky than an unwanted pregnancy.
If you want to reduce your risk of pregnancy, you should take the EC pill when necessary, regardless of how many times you’ve taken it that cycle.
Taking additional doses of the EC pill won’t make it more effective.
If you’ve already taken the required dose, you don’t need to take an additional dose on the same day or the day after.
However, if you have unprotected sex two days in a row, you should take EC both times to reduce your risk of pregnancy for each case.
There are some disadvantages to using EC on a regular basis. This includes:
Reduced efficacy compared to other contraceptives
EC pills are less effective in preventing pregnancy than other forms of birth control.
Some more effective methods of birth control include:
Single-use EC products generally cost between $25 and $60. That’s more than most other forms of contraception, including the pill and condoms.
Short-term side effects
EC pills are more likely to cause side effects than some other methods of birth control. The section below lists common side effects.
Short-term side effects include:
- lower abdominal pain or cramps
- tender breasts
- spotting between periods
- irregular or heavy menstruation
Generally, progestin-only pills have fewer side effects than EC pills that contain both progestin and estrogen.
If you’re worried about side effects, ask your pharmacist for a progestin-only pill.
Side effects like headaches and nausea should fade within a few days.
Your next period might be delayed by up to a week, or it might be heavier than usual. These changes should only affect the period right after you take the EC pill.
If you don’t get your period within a week of when it was expected, you should take a pregnancy test.
There are no long-term risks associated with using the EC pill.
EC pills don’t cause infertility. This is a common misconception.
EC pills work by delaying or preventing ovulation, the stage in the menstrual cycle when an egg is released from the ovaries.
Current research strongly suggests that once an egg is fertilized, EC pills no longer work.
In addition, they’re no longer effective once the egg has been implanted in the uterus.
So, if you’re already pregnant, they won’t work. EC pills aren’t the same as the abortion pill.
EC pills actually contain the same hormones as birth control pills, which prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation. The doses are different, though.
In fact, if you don’t have access to a morning-after pill, you can use regular birth control pills as a form of EC.
To do this, take one pill as soon as possible after you’ve had unprotected sex. Take the second pill 12 hours later. This approach isn’t as effective as taking an actual EC pill, but it may still be helpful.
There are no known long-term complications associated with taking EC pills. Common short-term side effects include nausea, headaches, and fatigue.
If you have questions about the morning-after pill or contraception, talk to your local pharmacist or other healthcare provider.