Many women, at some point in life, need to take emergency contraception. Whether a condom broke, a birth control pill got skipped, or someone simply failed to take the right precautions at the appropriate time, the situation occasionally arises when women have to turn to Plan B for contraception. But what happens when you need to use the morning after pill more than once? Is it safe– and, equally importantly, will it work? Here are some points to consider.
1. It is, essentially, safe to take the morning after pill more than once in your life. Although it does contain a flood of hormone (the same as those found in ordinary birth control pills, but at a much higher dose), Plan B is not toxic and does not do any kind of permanent damage to the body. Princeton University notes that it may have unpleasant side effects, but that using it more than once is not inherently unsafe.
2. It’s important to take it if you need it. Fear of the side effects of emergency contraception shouldn’t dissuade you from taking it, even if you’ve taken it once (or more than once) before. Princeton notes that “there are no situations where the risks outweigh the benefits of being able to prevent pregnancy after sex.” Although the morning after pill isn’t an especially pleasant pill to take, its effects are negligible compared to the risks associated with abortion and with unplanned childbirth.
3. Taking a higher dose, or taking it more frequently, won’t increase its efficacy. The morning after pill works by preventing ovulation. It fails only when a woman has already ovulated, or at which ovulation has progressed past the point of no return. A higher dose of emergency contraception, or a repeated dose, will not prevent pregnancy any better than the dose prescribed by your health care provider. Do not take the morning after pill more than once in hopes of it being more effective– this will only make you sick, but will do nothing to stop a pregnancy.
4. It isn’t as effective as ordinary birth control. While you can take Plan B with some regularity without the risk of serious side effects, you may find yourself dealing with an unplanned pregnancy as a result. The morning after pill is only 89% effective even in the best of circumstances, and these are much poorer odds than other forms of contraception. If your goal is to avoid unwanted pregnancy, Plan B shouldn’t be your first-line defense.
5. It isn’t Plan A. If you find yourself needing to use Plan B more than once, it’s a sign that something’s off– namely, that you aren’t using a reliable birth control method. The morning after pill isn’t meant to be taken regularly and is a poor substitute for other available options. Its side effects are more significant and it is far less effective. If this situation occurs with any regularity, make an appointment with your doctor to decide on a safer, more effective contraceptive method.