Doctors Explain How Often You Can Take Plan B and Why You Might Consider Other Options

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When you’ve had a mishap with your birth control or otherwise had unprotected sex, the morning-after pill may be helpful in preventing an unplanned pregnancy. Plan B is one of the most popular choices, because it’s available over-the-counter and can be taken within three days of unprotected sex, even if you’re taking another contraceptive. But what if you need emergency contraception a second time – or again after that? Is it OK to continue taking Plan B? POPSUGAR asked ob-gyns.

How Often Can You Take Plan B?

As many times as you need, explained Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, co-founder and CEO of Pandia Health, the only women-founded, doctor-led birth control delivery service. The Plan B One-Step site notes this as well, stating: “If you have already used Plan B, it can be safely used again after another instance of unprotected sex or birth control failure.”

However, Plan B shouldn’t be used as your primary form of birth control. “It does not work as well as long-term birth control, such as the IUD, implant, shot, birth control ring, birth control patch, [or] birth control pills, and it does not work as well as prescription emergency contraception,” Dr. Yen told POPSUGAR. Prescription options include ulipristal acetate (UPA) pills – most commonly sold under the brand name Ella – which are covered at no cost under the Affordable Care Act. You might just keep a prescription pill on hand “in case of emergency,” Dr. Yen said.

Prescription emergency contraceptives are especially helpful for people with a higher BMI, for whom Plan B may not be as effective. Dr. Yen recommends using Ella if your BMI falls between 26 and 35, and a copper IUD for a BMI above that range.

The bottom line? If you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control failed, and you feel Plan B is the best option for you, you should take it – even if you’ve used it in the past. Just remember: “It’s not to be used as a regular contraceptive option. It’s a morning after option to prevent pregnancy,” Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals in Lincoln, told POPSUGAR. Dr. Gaither recommends talking to your doctor to find a reliable method of birth control that can help prevent the need for emergency contraception.

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