Sometimes people use the terms “the abortion pill” and “Plan B” interchangeably, but these drugs have different uses and work in very different ways.
Plan B is designed for women who want to ensure they do not become pregnant, often after their method of birth control fails.
The abortion pill is used when a woman is already pregnant to terminate the pregnancy.
Plan B is a backup method of birth control. Plan B is sometimes referred to as the morning-after pill. This is because Plan B is used within 72 hours of having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
Plan B uses the drug levonorgestrel to delay or prevent a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation). However, if ovulation has already taken place, the morning-after pill will not be able to prevent this. It can also create an inhospitable environment for a fertilized embryo by irritating the lining of the uterus. This means an embryo would be less likely to attach after taking Plan B.
Like every medication, Plan B has side effects. These can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breast tenderness
- Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain or cramps
The Abortion Pill
Sometimes this method of termination is also called a medical abortion. The abortion pill is actually a system using two drugs that work together.
The first drug, mifepristone, is used to block progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone the body uses to support a pregnancy; without it, the pregnancy ends.
The second drug, misoprostol, causes the uterus to begin contracting, which forces the embryo out of the body through the vagina.
Risks of the abortion pill include:
- Incomplete abortion
- An ongoing pregnancy
- Heavy and prolonged bleeding
- Digestive system discomfort
A medical provider should be consulted as soon as possible if a woman experiences the following signs of complications after using the abortion pill:
- Severe bleeding — soaking more than two thick pads within an hour
- Fever that lasts more than 24 hours
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Severe abdominal or back pain
- No period after two months
- Symptoms of pregnancy
It is important to note that the abortion pill will not work for ectopic pregnancies, which is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus. This requires a separate medical procedure, as this can be very dangerous for the pregnant woman if this is not resolved. An ultrasound is required to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy.
Let Us Know if We Can Help
If you have questions about pregnancy, A Woman’s Pregnancy Center is here to help. At our Center, we offer free medical-grade pregnancy tests, free ultrasound, and options counseling. Though we do not offer Plan B pills or abortion pills at our Center, our knowledgeable team can provide information on both. Contact us today to schedule a free pregnancy confirmation appointment and learn more about your options.