Plan B vs. The Abortion Pill


You may be worried that you’re facing an unexpected pregnancy, and now you want to know about your options. Our trained care team is here and can guide you from uncertainty to certainty. Schedule a free appointment today if you need a free pregnancy test, ultrasound, or someone to talk to. In the meantime, here is a guide to answer some of your questions.

What is Plan B?

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive containing 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel, a hormone that you can find in lower doses in many birth control pills. Note that Plan B is not a regular contraceptive and should not be used as such.

How Does it Work?

Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Plan B works differently depending on where you are in your cycle. It can prevent or delay ovulation, meaning your ovary will not release an egg and so sperm may not be able to reach it to fertilize it.

If you have already ovulated and fertilization has occurred, Plan B may prevent the embryo from implanting in the uterus by causing a thinning in the uterus’ lining. If the embryo has already attached to the womb, Plan B will not prevent the pregnancy from progressing.

Plan B will not end a pregnancy.

Are There Side Effects?

Some women experience the following side effects with Plan B:

  • Nausea
  • Belly pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Menstrual changes
  • Dizziness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vomiting

Have questions, or you’re not sure what to do? Schedule a free and confidential appointment.

So what if I’m already pregnant?

What is the Abortion Pill?

The abortion pill is not the same as Plan B. It will not prevent pregnancy and is only taken to end a pregnancy. The abortion pill is composed of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol.

How Does it Work?

Mifepristone is taken first and acts by preventing a woman’s body from producing the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the uterus lining will break down, preventing a fetus from receiving oxygen and nutrients.

Misoprostol is taken a day or more later once the fetus is no longer viable. It forces the womb to contract and expel the fetus. At this stage, women will experience cramping, bleeding, and other effects experienced in a miscarriage.

When Can I Take It?

The FDA does not allow the use of the abortion pill past 10 weeks of pregnancy or near the end of the first trimester. To accurately determine the gestational age of your fetus, it is vital to be examined in person by a physician or trained sonographer. They will determine how far along you are by measuring the size of your fetus’ head. They must also rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, which can be fatal. Taking the abortion pill too late in your pregnancy can cause complications.

What are the Side Effects?

All women who take the abortion pill experience severe cramping and bleeding that can last until the next menstrual cycle. Other possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fever/Chills

Additional risks and complications include infection, hemorrhaging, undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, and more. You can learn more about these risks here (link to their post on the abortion pill).

Next Steps

Considering an abortion? Make an appointment. We’ll explain your medical and legal options. You can also get a free, confidential pregnancy test and ultrasound. We care about your situation and are here for you.