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The 411 On The Morning After Pill

Let's talk about Plan B.

Women's Health

We've all been there.

A tantalizing night of passion where you're riding your partner in wild abandon and both of you are at the edge of reaching that coveted climax. He gets distracted and guides your movements frantically as you ride your orgasm out, in effort to draw out his. And suddenly the pull out method for withdrawal becomes the Chris Brown, he can leave it in.

OK, OK, well maybe, it's just me. But I have no doubt that as a sexually active woman, you've encountered one or two scares during your lovemaking sessions. And it doesn't even have to be a shotty pseudo-contraceptive method gone wrong. It could be meds that you're taking that make your birth control less effective, you could have forgotten to take your pill altogether, the condom could have broken, or if your man has some of that black magic that allows him to ejaculate and keep going, you might be in need of a back up for the backup.

In any case, this is where Plan B comes in, more commonly known as the "morning after pill". The morning after pill is a single-dose emergency contraceptive, or EC, that women can use in instances where we need some last-minute protection to lessen the likelihood of conception after sex.

Here are a few other things you should know about the emergency contraceptive, morning after pill.

How The Pill Works

Pregnancy is never instant. It can be days (as many as five) between unprotected sex and actual conception as the sperm navigates through the reproductive system to get to an egg. Morning after pills delay that process, thereby preventing the union from ever happening. That's why the nature of the Plan B pill is most effective the soonest you can take one. Of note, the morning after pill is not an abortion pill so if you happen to take one and conception has already taken place, it won't harm your pregnancy.

Ulipristal Acetate vs. Levonorgestrel

Morning after pills can be found in a couple different forms. The most effective kind of morning after pill contains ulipristal acetate and is called Ella. Although not as easily accessible as other ECs available on the market, it is the most effective. Women can take Ella up to five days after having unprotected sex, with efficacy as strong on day 5, as it is on day 1. The catch is that you typically need a prescription in order to use this form of emergency contraceptive.

The most commonly and widely used morning after pill contains levonorgestrel and can be found over-the-counter in most drugstores (even Walmart and Target), with no prescription or consultation needed. These brands include Plan B One-Step and Take Action Emergency Contraceptive. These pills must be taken within three days in order to be effective, and unlike Ella, the sooner you take this pill, the better.

The Cost

The cost for a single-dose tablet of a morning after pill can range between $35-$50, sometimes more, depending on the kind of EC you go for. In times where it's been an emergency, I've personally gravitated towards OTC options, first Plan B One-Step, and then Take Action. Plan B is about $45, and Take Action is slightly lower at $35. With the same level of effectiveness, it was a no-brainer to go with the lower cost option. Next Choice One Dose lands at the lower end of that price range as well.

Because Ella needs a prescription, it might not be the best option out there for most women, especially when the name of the game calls for immediate action. Even still, if that's the route you go, Ella can amount to $50 or higher, not including overnight delivery costs that might be necessary for securing the pill.

As a just-in-case method to have on hand in your medicine cabinet, a generic brand called AfterPill can be purchased online for $20, not including shipping. That way if an accident happens and your budget is a little tight, you don't have to worry about how you will obtain an EC to prevent pregnancy.

Morning after pills might also be available at Planned Parenthood health centers and/or family planning clinics located near you.

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