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Common Myths About Plan B Emergency Contraception

["Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann check a pregnancy test"]
Knocked Up via Universal Pictures

Gulp. Don't let this be you! Here's everything you've wanted to know about the morning after pill.

4 Plan B Myths You Need To Stop Believing Right Now

Being in a situation where you need to take a Plan B pill can be stressful, nerve wracking, and isolating.

Women who need emergency contraception might feel wrongly judged based on common myths about the morning after pill. Small-minded people continue to believe and perpetuate these harmful misconceptions. On top of that, they assume that women who need it are promiscuous, irresponsible, or both. But the thing is, every woman is entitled to Plan B if she needs it – regardless of how or why.

Having the Plan B pill be widely accessible doesn't – and won't – make the rate of unprotected sex rise, but it will decrease the rate of teen and unwanted pregnancies. Here are some common myths about the Plan B pill and why they're false.

Myth #1: The Plan B Pill Is An Abortion Pill

This is by far the most dangerous myth about the Plan B pill out there, and that's why we're addressing it first.

The Plan B pill is not an abortion pill. Don't let anyone tell you that it is. And don't be shamed into believing it either.

The Plan B pill works by preventing pregnancy from happening to begin with. If you're already pregnant and you take it, it won't have any effect. It prevents pregnancy by stopping or delaying ovulation. If there's no egg to be fertilized, there's no pregnancy.

The only ingredient in the Plan B pill is a high dose of levonorgestrel, or progestin. It's the same chemical that's found in birth control pills, implants, and IUDs – which all work by preventing ovulation too.

Myth #2: It's Only Effective If Taken Within 24 Hours After Unprotected Sex

While it's most effective if taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex, that doesn't mean it's ineffective after that time frame. According to Planned Parenthood, emergency contraception is effective up until day 3 after unprotected sex.

Lately, studies have been showing Plan B can be effective up until day 4.

After day 4, it's recommended that you have a copper IUD inserted or get a prescription for Ella, a prescription only emergency contraceptive that's been shown to be equally effective on days 1 - 5.

Remember, even if you're a little late taking the Plan B pill, that's better than not taking it at all.

Myth #3: Long Term Use Causes Infertility Or Birth Defects

There is literally no scientific data that suggests prolonged use of the Plan B pill or its equivalents causes infertility or birth defects.

The only reason it's not recommended to be used as a primary birth control is because it's just not as effective as a consistent, reliable form of birth control. Emergency contraception is labeled as such for a reason. It's better to have sex fully protected by the pill, the birth control shot, or an IUD (just to name a few options) all along. It's stressful to constantly be trying to protect yourself afterward and leaves more room for error.

Also, it's really expensive compared to other birth controls like the pill or condoms.

Myth #4: Plan B Is Your Only Option For Emergency Contraception

There's no denying that Plan B is pricey compared to other forms of birth control, but it's not the only emergency contraception available to you.

Take Action, Next Choice One Dose, and My Way are generic versions of Plan B that are cheaper but just as effective. You can also ask your doctor for Ella or a copper IUD.

Just because Plan B is the most well known doesn't mean it's your only option. Don't limit yourself to it, especially if you're restricted by your budget.

Emergency contraception needs to be widely and regularly accessible despite, or perhaps in spite of, these harmful misconceptions. Luckily, it's available for anyone to purchase regardless of gender or age for now.

If you're ever trying to buy emergency contraception and someone is refusing to sell it to you for any reason, don't ever be afraid to stand up for yourself. You don't need an ID to purchase emergency contraception, and refusing to sell it to you for any reason is not okay.

You should never feel ashamed about needing to take emergency contraception. We're all human, and sometimes we make mistakes. Other times, we may be survivors of other people's wrongdoings. Every situation is different, but everyone is equally entitled to the birth control they need.

Let's Keep the Conversation Going...

How did you handle unnecessary judgment when trying to get emergency contraception?

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