When it comes to preventing pregnancy – or choosing what to do with an unplanned pregnancy – there are many different medications women take. Two types of medications that often get confused are Plan B and the abortion pill.
Because there is a lot of misinformation online, we will clarify the difference between these two pills and how they impact pregnancy. As you’ll see, the active hormonal ingredients in both medications are very different and are intended to be used for specific purposes.
Plan be is emergency contraception you take by mouth within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Commonly referred to as the morning-after pill, Plan B, or simply “the pill,” the active ingredient in this medication is a synthetic hormone called levonorgestrel – which is a hormone that is designed to prevent a pregnancy from forming.
The morning-after pill is available over the counter and does not require a prescription.
How Plan B Works
It works to prevent pregnancy in one of three ways:
- It may prevent or delay ovulation
- It may interfere with the fertilization of an egg
- It’s also possible that it may interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg
It is not a medication you should take routinely, as medications with levonorgestrel should not be used as a long-term contraceptive method, nor should it be used in place of the abortion pill.
Remember, emergency contraceptives are designed to prevent a pregnancy from happening. In contrast, the abortion pill is designed to eliminate an existing pregnancy.
The abortion pill (RU-486) is a series of two pills – mifepristone and misoprostol – that cause an abortion to an existing pregnancy. The abortion pill is labeled to be taken only the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancies 10 weeks or later require a surgical abortion.
Mifepristone is the first pill and is taken at a doctor’s office or abortion clinic. The FDA requires that it be prescribed and overseen by a doctor because of the potential side effects. This first pill blocks your body’s production of progesterone, which causes the unborn baby to stop growing.
Misoprostol is the second pill and is usually taken at home at least 24 hours after the first pill. This causes contractions and your body eventually miscarries the pregnancy causing the fetus, blood, and other tissues to be expelled vaginally.
Abortion Pill Side Effects
This method of abortion can cause the following side effects:
- Bleeding and blood clots
- Nausea and vomiting
These side effects can last up to two weeks. In rare instances, if the fetus and pregnancy tissues are not completely expelled serious medical complications, including death can occur. If side effects persist after two weeks, it is important that you let your doctor know immediately.
As you can see, these two medications contain different hormonal drugs designed to accomplish different things in relation to pregnancy prevention, abortion, and your body. They cannot be used interchangeably, and it’s dangerous to try to use them for the wrong purposes.
Contact Palm Beach Women’s Clinic
If you have questions about an unplanned pregnancy or think you might be pregnant, please reach out to schedule an appointment with us today.
We can help you understand your options and offer education to help you make a fully-informed choice.