The Morning After Pill (Plan B, Next Choice)

Emergency contraception is used as a backup when other methods of birth control fail– for example, if a condom breaks or the woman misses more than two birth control pills – and the woman wants to avoid becoming pregnant. Emergency contraception can be used to help prevent pregnancy if taken soon after having sex.

How does the morning after pill work?

Plan B is a high-dose form of birth control pill that can help prevent pregnancy. One pill can be taken up to five days after having unprotected sex, although it is recommended that it be taken within three days.

The sooner it is taken, the more likely it will be effective.

Plan B uses levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone commonly found in standard birth control pills and acts as a more potent dose to discourage pregnancy. It will not terminate a pregnancy if it has already occurred.

Next Choice is the generic equivalent of Plan B, and should be used within three days of having unprotected sex. This method consists of two pills: a woman can either take both pills as soon as they are obtained or one as soon as possible with a second pill taken 12 hours later.

Women ages 18 and older can buy these forms of the morning after pill without a prescription (over the counter). A prescription is required for women younger than 18.

If you want to avoid pregnancy, ask your doctor or medical health provider to help you find an ongoing birth control method that will work for you. The morning after pill should not replace routine methods of birth control and should only be used in emergencies.