General Question

desiree333's avatar

Can someone explain the Plan B "contraception" pills?

Asked by desiree333 (3219points) February 1st, 2010

I just saw a commercial on them and I am kind of confused. It says that it is not an abortion pill, but isn’t that exactly what it is doing? And it says it will not terminate a fetus/embryo if you are already pregnant. Well then how does it stop you from getting pregnant if you have already missed your period. And if you take it the morning after unprotected sex, then does it just stop you from getting pregnant, or does it kill the egg or somethin.? Sorry if my questions are oubvious, I just don’t understand it. Also this is not for personal benefit. I am just curious.

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17 Answers

suncatnin's avatar

It primarily works by preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg. There is also the possibility that it would be able to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Once the egg has implanted, Plan B would do nothing to terminate the pregnancy. It is just a higher level of hormones than regular birth control. It wouldn’t help you if you’ve already missed a period and are pregnant. That drug is RU-486, which is actually an abortion pill that works up to 8 weeks after conception.

nikipedia's avatar

Plan B stops you from releasing an egg so that the egg can never be fertilized in the first place.

Some scientists believe that it can also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus by changing the “stickiness” of the uterine lining, but this not agreed upon in the scientific community.

Plan B is only effective taken immediately after intercourse. The sooner you take it, the more effective it is. If you wait until you miss your period, it will no longer be effective. If you wait until a fetus or embryo has begun development, it will no longer be effective.

onesecondregrets's avatar

It’s a godsend if you aren’t on birth control and don’t use a condom but it rapes your wallet, that’s for damn sure.

faye's avatar

I don’t understand this not releasing the egg. Doesn’t it work if you’re raped further along in your cycle? (for example) or would you then go to RU-486?.

nikipedia's avatar

@faye: If the egg has not yet been released, Plan B prevents it from being released. If you’re further along in your cycle, and the egg has already been released, you could not have gotten pregnant anyway (because the egg was already released).

faye's avatar

@nikipedia the egg must be released for you to get pregnant in my mind. Or do you mean released as in right out of your body?

nikipedia's avatar

@faye: Once the egg is released from the ovary, it is only available for fertilization for up to 48 hours. After that point it travels out of the body. So if the unprotected sex happens more than 48 hours after the egg is released, it is impossible to become pregnant.

faye's avatar

You know, I totally misunderstood this whole thing. Now, if she is pregnant but hasn’t missed a period, is this pill still given or do we go to RU_486?

nikipedia's avatar

@faye: Plan B is only given up to 72 hours after the unprotected sex. If it was given to someone who was confirmed to be pregnant, it wouldn’t do anything. Within 72 hours, you could not detect a pregnancy, if it existed.

After a pregnancy could be confirmed, the only way to terminate the pregnancy would be through abortion. RU-486 induces a chemical abortion.

casheroo's avatar

@onesecondregrets Ya know, I bet just going on the pill would be cheaper than taking the morning after pill each time. Just sayin’.

faye's avatar

So It’s not much more valuable than the rhythym method. Both methods trying to prevent pregnancy whose success depends on when ovulation might be.

nikipedia's avatar

@faye: One could argue that nothing is more valuable than the rhythm method (executed perfectly.) There is a very short window each month when a woman can get pregnant. If you don’t have sperm in your vagina in that window, you can’t get pregnant.

The purpose of Plan B is to prevent pregnancy if there is sperm in your vagina shortly before you are scheduled to ovulate. It may also be helpful if there is sperm in your vagina shortly after you ovulate, but as I pointed out above, scientists do not agree on this. Because this time immediately surrounding ovulation is the critical period during which one can get pregnant, I would argue that Plan B has tremendous value.

But so would not having sex in the first place, which as you point out, the rhythm method would accomplish.

faye's avatar

I didn’t mean my queries to sound as though I have no knowledge of the female cycle, tho I can see how this happened. I’ll try google for my answer and sorry to have derailed the thread.

casheroo's avatar

@faye just so you know, the “rhythm method” is totally different than other types of natural family planning. Not many people use the rhythm method because of how unreliable it is to just chart your cycle without other factors. I’ve successfully used NFP.

faye's avatar

@casheroo What is NFP? My youngest is 29 and very few of us used rythym then, because of the pregnancies!! lol

MagsRags's avatar

@faye NFP= Natural Family Planning.

Rhythm is usually just calculating fertile days by keeping track of your cycles, and unless you’re very regular, not very effective.

NFP aka FAM or Fertility Awareness Method includes tracking basal body temperature, cervical mucus and sometimes cervical position. A motivated woman can sometimes use NFP pretty effectively.

faye's avatar

It might have worked for me, I was quite good at tracking pms probability by cervical mucous changes.

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