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Ask the Expert: Plan B

Updated: May 10, 2022

Q: Is it true that Plan B is not effective?

A: No, that is not necessarily true, but timing is key! Levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception pills are available over the counter at pharmacies and grocery stores to anyone, with no age restrictions. That means you should be able to buy Plan B One-Step or generic options like Next Choice One Dose, My Way, and Levonorgestrel without having a prescription or showing your ID.

Use emergency contraception as soon as possible after you’ve had unprotected sex. The sooner you take it, the better. The efficacy goes down each day you wait. Within 24-hours to three days is ideal, but emergency contraception will still reduce your risk of pregnancy if taken within 5 days.

Remember that while Plan B is effective, it is only meant to be used as emergency contraception. A much better option would be to choose a more effective type of birth control that is right for you before you get into this emergency situation. This way, you are covered to prevent pregnancy until you are ready to have a baby.

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Amy Weiss, MD, MPH, adolescent medicine specialist at the Ybor Youth Clinic

Medical Director, TGH+USF Adolescent Bariatric Program and Interim Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, USF Health


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