Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, when contraception fails (i.e. a condom breaks, missed birth control pills, etc.) or sexual assault.
There are two types of (hormonal) emergency contraceptive pills (ECP): Plan B and Ovral. Hassle Free Clinic uses Plan B but Ovral is sometimes used at other sexual health clinics, walk-in clinics and emergency rooms. The emergency contraceptive pill is also called the “morning-after pill” or the “day-after pill.” The post-coital IUD is another method of emergency contraception. It is available through some doctors and clinics such as the Bay Centre for Birth Control.
The cost of Plan B at Hassle Free Clinic is $10 or whatever you can afford.
Plan B contains a hormone called progestin. When you take Plan B it may do one of the following: stop the release of an egg from the ovary, prevent the egg from being fertilized or prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. Plan B will not work if you are already pregnant. Note: Ovral contains two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Ovral tends to have more side effects and is less effective than Plan B.
Plan B is most effective (89 per cent to be exact) if taken within 72 hours of risk of pregnancy. It is more effective the sooner the pills are taken, however there is evidence of less than 50 per cent efficacy if taken up to five days from risk of pregnancy.
Plan B consists of two pills; you take both pills together, as soon as possible.
Please talk to your counsellor or doctor if you’ve had a history of any of the following: any unexplained or abnormal vaginal bleeding in the last three months, known or suspected breast cancer; active liver disease or tumour. You should tell your healthcare provider if you have diabetes or any known allergies to drugs. We can then decide if Plan B is okay for you.
You can take the ECP as many times as you need, but repeated use of the ECP may cause your menstrual cycle to change. You may have a shorter/longer cycle and have a heavier/lighter period than normal. Also, Plan B is not a substitute for regular contraception. Other forms of birth control are more effective. Please talk to one of the counsellors if you want to talk about other birth control methods.
Plan B can cause temporary side effects in some women. These side effects generally don’t last more than 24 hours. Common side effects may include: nausea, vomiting and/or irregular menstrual bleeding. You should see a doctor immediately if you experience itching all over your body or cramping or severe pain in your belly/abdomen before your next normal period.
Plan B will not cause spontaneous abortion or affect a fetus if you are already pregnant prior to taking it.
Taking Plan B will not bring on your period. Some women may experience spotting a few days after taking Plan B, but this is not your period. Your next period should come on time but it may be a few days early or a few days late.
If you’re not pregnant, you should get a normal menstrual period three weeks after taking Plan B. If you do not get a normal period within three weeks of taking Plan B, call us to arrange a pregnancy test.
If you have any questions, concerns or want to make an appointment to see one of the counsellors or doctors, please call us.
Health Canada approved a change in Plan B’s status from a prescription drug to a non-prescription drug. To buy Plan B, or if you have any questions about it, just go to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist. Plan B is more expensive if not bought at Hassle Free Clinic; it costs $30–$40 at a pharmacy.