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What's the Deal With: Plan B

What's the Deal With: Plan B

Things don't always go as planned. Maybe you forgot to take your pill or the condom broke while you were having sex. Now you have a second chance.

If you take emergency contraception (EC), also called the morning-after pill or Plan B, within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, it can prevent pregnancy (it's 89% effective).

This is not the same as RU-486, the abortion pill. EC is used to prevent pregnancy. It's basically a high dosage of hormones, the same that are found in regular birth control pills. EC stops ovulation, so your egg won't be released. It can also prevent fertilization or a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. It will not work if you are already pregnant, and will not affect your un-born baby if you already are.

The earlier EC is taken, the more effective it is. The FDA has approved the over-the-counter (OTC) sales of EC. Pretty soon, you might see it on the shelves right next to condoms. Or behind the counter, like cigarettes (or Claritin), and you'll have to show your ID. I'd call your pharmacy first to find out if they offer OTC.

Fit's Tip: It's safe, but should only be used for emergency situations. It shouldn't take the place of your consistent and effective method of birth control - EC does not prevent HIV or other STIs.

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