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Plan B vs. the Abortion Pill

Plan B and the abortion pill — is there a difference?
Plan B vs. the Abortion Pill

Your friends here at Open Arms are here to help break down this important difference and help guide you through the various pregnancy options.

What is "Plan B"?

Plan B, also known as "the morning-after pill" is a form of over-the-counter emergency contraception taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex and is used to prevent a pregnancy from happening.

How Does Plan B Work?

Depending on where you were in your menstrual cycle when unprotected sex occurred, Plan B will use the following three-step process:

  1. The pill may prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg and thus preventing fertilization.
  2. The pill may prevent ovulation (the egg will not be released), thus preventing fertilization.
  3. If fertilization does occur, it may prevent the embryo from being able to attach to the uterus, thus causing a very early abortion.

What are the Side Effects of Plan B?

Before taking any kind of medication, it's essential to take time to gather information regarding the side effects and risks you might encounter.

Those who take Plan B might experience the following side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Headaches
  • Unusual Bleeding
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Exhaustion
  • Irregular menstrual periods

What is the Abortion Pill?

The abortion pill uses medication to end a pregnancy within ten weeks after the last period. The two-drug process utilizes the medications Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

The main difference between the abortion pill and Plan B is that Plan B typically prevents pregnancies while the abortion pill ends pregnancies. 

How Does the Abortion Pill Work?

Mifepristone, the first pill in the two-step process, ceases the production of the pregnancy hormone called progesterone. Progesterone provides necessary nutrients to the pregnancy and without it, the pregnancy will end. After the pregnancy has been terminated, Misoprostol will be taken to cause contractions and force the pregnancy from the womb.

What are the Side Effects of the Abortion Pill?

Those who take the abortion pill might experience the following side effects:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Fever and chills

The abortion pill  is also associated with other possible serious risks such as°

  • Incomplete abortions, in which the abortion pill fails to end the pregnancy and emergency surgery may then be required
  • Emotional trauma and increased mental health issues associated with the abortion process1
  • Infections and hemorrhaging due to retained fetal tissue

I'm Pregnant — What are my options?

If you're experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, it's important to remember you're not alone and you have options.

Open Arms is proud to offer no-cost, confidential pregnancy services including clinical pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and options counseling. We're here to provide you with information regarding the options available to you, and help guide you through your decision-making process so you can make the choice that's best for you and your future.

  1. Broen AN, Moum T, Bødtker AS, Ekeberg O. The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Med. 2005;3:18.

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