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The Morning After Pill - Get Your Questions Answered!

By HERWriter
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Until I needed it myself, I was completely unaware that so many women close to me had used Emergency Contraception or the “morning after pill”. At the time, it was very reassuring to hear my friends’ experiences, and because so many women on the EmpowHER website ask questions regarding EC, I thought I would share my own experience and try to provide some answers to general concerns women have after taking the pill.

My need for EC was the result of a mistake many couples make when using condoms. (Now YOU definitely won’t!) Instead of pulling out after his orgasm, my partner remained inside me and when his erection shrank, the condom fell off. I immediately knew that despite my aversion to unnatural hormones, I had no choice but to use Emergency Contraception. First rule of thumb: when in doubt, just take the pill! It’s much less expensive than an abortion or a baby.

I headed to Walgreens and was quickly helped by a pharmacist who seemed quite used to seeing disheveled young women asking for the drug. Anyone over the age of 17 is now able to acquire EC without a prescription, thanks to the recent work of dedicated women's health activists. The brand of EC I received was called Next Choice, an option that contains 2 doses of Levonorgestrel (a hormone commonly used in birth control pills), to be taken 12 hours apart. Another common brand is the Plan B One-Step, consisting of only one pill.

Sitting in the parking lot, I carefully read all the directions on the Next Step package and swallowed the pill. I knew I was well within the time constraints of the pill’s effectiveness (3 days or 72 hours), but because the earlier you take the drug the more effective it will be, I still felt hurried. All day I awaited side effects like dizziness, nausea, or headache, but none came. 12 hours after my first dose, I took the 2nd pill – still feeling just fine.

2 days after I took the pills, I began to feel some cramping. Although it was not yet time in my cycle, I experienced a very light, 3-day period.* Because early stages of pregnancy can also cause similar symptoms, just in case I also took a pregnancy test to confirm. Negative!

Add a Comment213 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have an irregular cycle. My menstruation in March was on the 21st, then in April was on the 10th. Had protected sex from April 21 and April 23 then an unprotected sex last May 5. I took ECP on May 8, did PTs the whole week and all were negative then had bleeding on May 18 with light to heavy dark red/brown blood with clots then the next day the bleeding became lighter with clots, 2 clots came out followed by a pinkish little fleshy meat forming like a C, it's my 3rd day today and very light bleeding. Took PT today and it's negative. What does this mean?

May 19, 2017 - 5:59pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had unprotected sex 3 days after my period had ended. He did not ejaculate inside me but I was worried about precum so I took plan b 16 hours later. A week after taking it, I had a heavy 2 day period with spotting on the third day. I'm wondering what the chances of me being pregnant are. When should I expect my next period? From the first period? Or the three day period?

May 9, 2017 - 8:52am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

Thank you for your post!

Emergency contraceptives are up to 95% effective when taken as prescribed within the first 24 hours and up to 90% effective if taken within 72 hours, so the risk is very small. It works by preventing ovulation and stopping a pregnancy from starting. It is not an abortion pill. It prevents a pregnancy, it does not end one. Side effects can include stomach aches, headaches, nausea and a general feeling of being unwell.

The more frequently they are taken, the more likely a woman is  to have side effects and an irregular cycle.  They should be taken only for emergencies, not used as a method of birth control.

Symptoms usually start 2-7 days after taking the medication and may or may not include bleeding or spotting. Not all women get symptoms. Some get many, or a few, or none. If a woman doesn’t get her next period within a week of it’s expected date, a pregnancy test may be necessary although the risk is very low. Periods can often be delayed or longer/shorter as a result of taking emergency contraception. They should get back to normal the next month but we cannot predict when it could be or when to count back from - all women respond differently.




May 9, 2017 - 1:19pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi doctor,
Two days after my period I had unprotected sex, I took plan B the next day. A few days after I started feeling period cramps. I felt this pain for about three weeks but the day before my expected period all the cramps and PMS went away then my period came but only for 2 days. Should I be worried?

May 6, 2017 - 7:44pm
Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anonymous,

You have no need to worry. Plan B can cause changes in the menstrual cycle, and that is exactly what you have experienced.


May 7, 2017 - 2:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hello I had an unprotected sex on 8th of April and took an ecp on 9th. And I am not sure whether it's bleeding or period I got it 5 days after I took ecp. Lasted for 5 days.. am I pregnant ? :( I'm really worried please help me answer my question

May 2, 2017 - 2:57am
Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anonymous,

The bleeding which happened five days after taking the pill was proof that the pill worked and you did not become pregnant.


May 7, 2017 - 2:09pm
(reply to Maryann Gromisch RN)

Hi Maryann,
I took Plan B last month and I'm still having symptoms from the pill. I had my period a week after taking it and it lasted for 8 days so I'm guessing it worked.. My symptoms are, fatigue, frequent urination, and breast tenderness. My bladder starting to feel fuller. I'm constantly using the bathroom probably 7 times per day. Before of all this my period was irregular and sometimes would be on for 2-3 months. I want to go to the doctor, but I hate hearing bad news.

May 23, 2017 - 10:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Maryann Gromisch RN)

When should I expect my period? Because I haven't get my period yet since 2nd of April (my last period) ?

May 16, 2017 - 2:29am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Doc I hope you can help me, I had unprotected sex I drank the plan b after 18 hours after a.week I had like a mini mensturation first day light pink next day heavy bleeding abdominal pains dark red , third day only spotting of dark red , I took a pregnancy test before this occured and have not had sex till now im worried the preg test by the way was negative blood test and urine test , is this my period my period cycle is 7 days , will I still get my period , but my period was due these 3 days I bled thanks doc

February 13, 2017 - 7:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.