The FDA approved a new form of emergency contraception, called One-Step (by Plan B) in July 2009 for over-the-counter use. I've just recently been seeing the advertisements on TV, and thought it this would be a great place to answer questions about this new option for emergency contraception.
What are the differences between Plan B and One-Step?
1. Age requirements for consumer:
- Plan B, first approved for OTC use in 2006, may be purchased without a prescription by women (and men) 18 years and older.
- One-Step is available to women (and men) who are 17 years and older.
2. Dosage, number of tablets and when to take:
- Plan B contains two pills that must be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected intercourse; the sooner it is taken, the more effective. Each pill contains 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel, a type of progestin found in birth control pills.
- One-Step contains only one pill that must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected intercourse; the sooner it is taken, the more effective. The one tablet contains 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel.
Does One-Step work differently than Plan B?
Both types of emergency contraception contain the same hormone, and work similarly to birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Depending where you are in your cycle, the pills work to prevent pregnancy either by:
a) preventing ovulation (the release of an egg)
b) preventing a released egg from becoming fertilized by sperm
c) preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
*It is important to note, that if you are already pregnant, meaning a a fertilized egg is implanted prior to emergency contraception, then the emergency contraception will not work. It does not effect an already-established pregnancy.
How effective is One-Step and Plan B?
- According to the Plan B and FDA sites, "about seven out of eight women who would have gotten pregnant will not become pregnant after taking it" The sooner you take One-Step or Plan B after unprotected sex, the more effective it will be. Again, if you are already pregnant, it will not terminate an existing pregnancy.
What if I am under the age of 17?
You may still obtain emergency contraception by contacting your doctor or Gynecologist.
Other Important Information from the Emergency Contraception Website:
- "Although it is highly effective, Plan B is not a substitute for a regular method of contraception because it is not as effective as regular contraceptive methods"
- "Plan B is more effective than emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) containing both estrogen and progestin"
(I thought this was important, as many women on this site have asked how they can use their existing birth control prescription as emergency contraception)
Let us know if you have any additional comments or questions!
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