Emergency Contraceptives

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Question

Is an emergency contraceptive (such as Plan B One-Step or Next Choice) the same thing as the RU-486 pill, the so-called abortion pill?

Answer

Emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B One-Step® and Next Choice® are emergency contraceptive medications for women, NOT a so-called "abortion pill". Plan B One-Step® (one 1.5 mg levonorgestrel tablet) and Next Choice® (two 0.75 mg levonorgestrel tablets) are meant to be used as a backup measure after contraception fails (such as when a diaphragm or condom tears, or if two or more birth control pills are missed from the package) or after unprotected sex (unplanned sex or sexual assault), for example. The hormone levonorgestrel is the same ingredient found in a wide range of birth control pills.

Emergency contraceptives are not right for everyone. They should not be used if you are already pregnant or are allergic to levonorgestrel or any of Plan B One-Step's or Next Choice's ingredients. Discuss with your healthcare provider whether this is an option for in advance prior to possibly needing it to determine if it is an appropriate option for you. Currently, both of these products are available for over-the counter purchase to men or women age 17 and older with a valid government issued form of identification to verify their age; women 16 and younger can obtain either of these medications by getting a prescription.

Plan B One-Step® and Next Choice® are used to prevent a pregnancy from occurring. Neither are intended for use after becoming pregnant.

Learn more about safe sex and birth control in the Health Encyclopedia.

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