No, it won’t make you infertile.
The morning-after pill has some baggage. There are rumors that it can cause blood clots, heart disease, cancer and other terrifying ailments. Some churchgoers are convinced it’s a form of abortion. There’s even an old wives’ tale that too many Plan Bs makes you infertile.
So what’s the truth?
A morning-after pill like Plan B One-Step helps prevent pregnancy up to three days after unprotected sex by postponing ovulation. A single pill contains a high level of the hormone levonorgestrel, which is just a higher dose of the same hormone found in most birth control pills.
Morning-after pills are sometimes called “emergency contraceptives.” But don’t let the word “emergency” make you worried. “All the rumors you hear about [the morning-after pill] are completely untrue,” Dr. Charlotte Wilken-Jensen, Head of Gynecology and Obstetrics Department at Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark told Broadly.
In the past, women would just swallow multiple birth control pills at the same time to avoid a pregnancy after unprotected sex. The estrogen in the pills caused horrendous nausea and vomiting, so doctors developed a new and improved pill without all that estrogen. If a woman can’t take regular birth control because of a blood-clotting condition, she can safely take the morning-after pill.
Plan B is also okay to take if you take daily hormonal birth control pills.
But before you clear out the shelves at your local CVS, though, doctors say the pill’s side effects tend to be worse if you take it often. So unless you enjoy nausea, vomiting, dizziness, generally feeling piss-poor and spontaneous bouts of depression, it’s best not to rely on it time and time again.
Regular use of the morning-after pill isn’t always practical. At $50 a pop, it’s pricey. It’s not as reliable at preventing pregnancy as birth control or condoms. Plus, extended use can fuck up your menstrual cycle, making it tricky to prevent pregnancies afterwards.
If it’s been more than three days since you’ve had unprotected sex and you want to stop a potential pregnancy, there’s another morning-after pill called Ella. It can be used up to five days after unprotected sex, which is awesome. The downsides are that — unlike Plan B — it’s prescription-only. Also, Ella contains a different active ingredient that sometimes doesn’t immediately mix well with hormonal birth control.
There aren’t a lot of studies about Ella’s long-term effects on the body — so doctors warn against taking it too much. (Experts say to limit yourself to one per menstrual cycle.)
What’s the difference between morning-after pills and abortion pills?
The so-called “abortion pill” (also known as RU-486) contains different hormones than the morning-after pill. Those hormones — mifepristone and misoprostol — can actually terminate a pregnancy that’s already started. With Plan B — if you’re already pregnant — the pill isn’t going to do much for ya.
So let’s put the rumors to rest once and for all: emergency contraception pills like Plan B are safe to take in moderation without worrying about infertility, blood clots or permanent damage.
Just remember: it’s an emergency contraceptive for a reason. Save it for those “Oh, shit” mornings. (You know what I’m talking about.) Anyways, it’s not worth the trouble to rely on it, since there are literally so many other ways to prevent pregnancy.