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Alternatives to Plan B for Emergency Contraception

If your birth control fails, you’re raped, or you’re worried about getting pregnant in a world where abortion may soon be illegal, Plan B is a great option. Emergency contraception–not to be confused with the abortion pill–can prevent you from getting pregnant if you take it soon after sex. But it’s not the best option for everyone. Here are some important alternatives to Plan B. 

Why Plan B Isn’t for Everyone

A number of studies suggest that Plan B might work less well in people over 155 pounds. That’s less than the weight of the average American woman, which leaves a lot of people out. But it’s a myth that Plan B has a weight limit. Instead, the effectiveness of Plan B may decline as a person’s body size increases. Not all studies support this finding, though, and even those that do still find that Plan B can work–just not as well. 

Plan B uses hormones to prevent you from becoming pregnant. The research shows that this one-time hormonal cocktail is safe even for people who can’t use hormonal birth control. But some people still prefer not to take it. If this sounds like you, you don’t have to give up on emergency contraception. 

Ulipristal acetate

Ulipristal acetate, also known as Ella, is a hormonal form of emergency contraception that works a bit differently. No research has found that it has a weight limit, but you’ll need a prescription to take it. Your local Planned Parenthood or abortion clinic can usually write you a prescription with a telehealth visit. 

Other Plan B brands 

Plan B is just one type of emergency contraceptive. The same cocktail of hormones is available under many other brand names, including: 

  • Aftera
  • EContra 
  • My Way
  • My Choice
  • Afterpill 

These medications have similar benefits and side effects to Plan B. They may also have the same weight limit. So if you can’t find Plan B, they’re a viable option. But if Plan B does not work for you, these medications won’t either. 

Copper IUD

The copper IUD is the safest and most effective form of emergency contraception. The only challenge is getting into the doctor quickly enough. You’ll need an IUD within 5 days of unprotected sex, so call your provider immediately. An IUD is also a safe, long-acting form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy for years. If and when you change your mind, it’s totally reversible. 

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