Doctors Explain How Often You Can Take Plan B and Why You Might Consider Other Options

Sydni Ellis
·2 min read
Woman taking medicine in bed. Young beautiful woman have menstrual pain.
Woman taking medicine in bed. Young beautiful woman have menstrual pain.

When you've had a mishap with your birth control or otherwise had unprotected sex, the morning-after pill may be helpful in preventing an unplanned pregnancy. Plan B is one of the most popular choices, because it's available over-the-counter and can be taken within three days of unprotected sex, even if you're taking another contraceptive. But what if you need emergency contraception a second time - or again after that? Is it OK to continue taking Plan B? POPSUGAR asked ob-gyns.

How Often Can You Take Plan B?

As many times as you need, explained Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, cofounder and CEO of Pandia Health, the only women-founded, doctor-led birth control delivery service. The Plan B One-Step site notes this as well, stating: "If you have already used Plan B, it can be safely used again after another instance of unprotected sex or birth control failure."

However, Plan B shouldn't be used as your primary form of birth control. "It does not work as well as long-term birth control, such as the IUD, implant, shot, birth control ring, birth control patch, [or] birth control pills, and it does not work as well as prescription emergency contraception," Dr. Yen told POPSUGAR. Prescription options include ulipristal acetate (UPA) pills - most commonly sold under the brand name Ella - which are covered at no cost under the Affordable Care Act. You might just keep a prescription pill on hand "in case of emergency," Dr. Yen said.

Prescription emergency contraceptives are especially helpful for people with a higher BMI, for whom Plan B may not be as effective. Dr. Yen recommends using Ella if your BMI falls between 26 and 35, and a copper IUD for a BMI above that range.

The bottom line? If you've had unprotected sex or your birth control failed, and you feel Plan B is the best option for you, you should take it - even if you've used it in the past. Just remember: "It's not to be used as a regular contraceptive option. It's a morning after option to prevent pregnancy," Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals in Lincoln, told POPSUGAR. Dr. Gaither recommends talking to your doctor to find a reliable method of birth control that can help prevent the need for emergency contraception.