A woman is considering the difference between plan b and the abortion pill.

Your period is late, you pee a lot, you’re tired, and to top it off, you’re scared! Is it possible that you are pregnant? Being sexually active and not regularly using contraception means, most likely, yes. Out of fear, you think, “All this will go away if I just take that pill.” Which pill? The abortion pill or Plan B? How do you know which one to take? Let’s clear up some of the confusion.

Plan B

Plan B has a couple of names like “the morning-after pill” and “the day-after pill.” You take this pill shortly after having had unprotected sex, but the catch is, it also must be before conception. According to research, Plan B uses the hormone levonorgestrel to change your cervix, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus. If the fertilized egg has already implanted in the uterus before you take the medication, Plan B will not work.

The key to this method is understanding your menstrual cycle. Since every woman’s cycle varies, it’s challenging to know when ovulation and fertilization have happened. There are several period tracking apps you can download to watch your cycle. However, the apps are only as useful as the information you enter. For Plan B to be genuinely effective, manufacturers suggest you take the pill no more than 72 hours after intercourse.

The Side Effects of Plan B

 As with any medicine you take, you need to be aware of possible side effects.

Some of the most common side effects for Plan B are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • A change in your menstrual flow (usually heavier)
  • Dizziness
  • Tenderness in the breasts
  • Delay in your cycle

The Abortion Pill

The Abortion Pill is also known as a medical abortion. Generally performed within the first ten weeks of pregnancy, it’s a two-step process starting with a clinic visit and finishing on your own. To qualify for the procedure, you have to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound gives you real-time information such as how far along you are and if your pregnancy is viable (the fetus is located in the uterus and a heartbeat is detected). If your pregnancy is further than about ten weeks, a medical abortion is not recommended.

After having an ultrasound, you will receive the first pill, Mifepristone (Mifeprex®), in the clinic. This pill blocks the hormone progesterone commonly referred to as the “pregnancy hormone.” The drug causes the lining of the uterus to thin and prevent the fetus from staying implanted. The second drug, Misoprostol, causes the uterus to expel the fetus through uterine contractions. Misoprostol should be taken usually 24-48 hours after the first pill.

The Side Effects of the Abortion Pill

Any abortion is a serious medical decision. It often has lifelong emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical consequences.

Some of the most common physical side effects of the Abortion Pill are:

  • Heavy Bleeding 
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea

Potential risks from a medical abortion include blood clots, infection, and an undetected ectopic pregnancy.

The Plain Truth

As you can see, the two procedures are very different from one another. Although they are both called “emergency contraception,” the Abortion Pill terminates an existing pregnancy, while Plan B prevents pregnancy. Using regular contraception is a safer option than the above two choices. Practice safe sex and test for STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) if you’ve either had several sexual partners or unprotected sex. 

What You Should Do

If you discover an unplanned pregnancy, schedule your free and confidential pregnancy testing with Miami Valley Women’s Center. If we confirm your pregnancy, a medical professional will determine if we can schedule you for a free limited ultrasound. Afterward, we can sit and talk about your options because, believe it or not, you have several. We’re here to help you in any way we can.

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