- You should only take Plan B if you have had sex and missed more than three birth control pills.
- You can continue to take your birth control on the same day you take Plan B.
- But if you take ella, you should stop birth control for five days after taking it.
Although birth control is very effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies, small mistakes like not taking your pill at the same time each day can increase your risk. In this case, you may need emergency contraception, such as Plan B.
You can safely take Plan B while on birth control, says Dr. Nicole Mitchell, an OB-GYN with Keck Medicine of USC. But there are careful steps you should take to ensure you are fully protected against pregnancy.
When can I get Plan B if I’m on birth control?
If you’re taking birth control as directed and not missing doses, you don’t need to take Plan B, says Dr. Sophia Yen, reproductive health specialist and co-founder of women’s telehealth provider Pandia Health.
In these cases, birth control already protects you from pregnancy. Yen says that taking Plan B would simply give your body more hormones than it needs. This could cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea, pelvic pain or even vomiting in rarer cases.
However, if you’ve missed three or more days of birth control, you should use emergency contraception, Yen says.
Plan B is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy if you take it within 24 hours of sperm entering the vagina. You can take it up to 72 hours after sex, but the effectiveness decreases every day.
Can I continue my birth control pack after taking Plan B?
If you are taking Plan B because you missed a few doses of birth control and had unprotected sex, you can continue taking your pills right away. Ideally, you should continue your pack on the same day and avoid sex or use a backup method of contraception like condoms for seven days, Mitchell says.
That’s because Plan B only protects you after one incident of unprotected sex, so you’ll want to cover yourself while your primary birth control method comes back on.
But there is no one-size-fits-all rule of thumb. Ultimately, guidelines can vary depending on the specific brand of pill you’re taking, so you should look up information based on the specific type of birth control, or better yet, contact your Gynecologist for help — especially if you’ve missed three or more pills.
Can I take ella on birth control?
Some people may opt for ella, which is a prescription-only form of emergency contraception that’s even more effective than Plan B, with only nine in 1,000 people getting pregnant and taking it within 24 hours.
Additionally, ella is more effective than Plan B if you weigh more than 155 pounds.
But if you choose ella over Plan B, you’ll need to stop birth control for five days after taking it, Yen says. This is because ulipristal acetate, the active ingredient in ella, is an anti-progesterone.
Mixing it with hormonal birth control (which contains synthetic progesterone) defeats the purpose, making emergency contraception less effective, Yen says.
Since you should not take ella and birth control at the same time, you should use back-up birth control, such as condoms, if you are sexually active during this time.
Once the five days are up, it’s best to start a new pack of birth control after taking ella, Yen says.
What to expect after taking Plan B or ella while on birth control
If you’re taking birth control and Plan B, one of the most common occurrences to expect is your period being out of cycle, as it can come earlier or later than expected, Yen says. This can range from a few days to a week from the expected arrival date of your period.
Mitchell says some other potential side effects of Plan B are:
- Tenderness in breast
- Motion sickness
The side effects of ella are essentially the same. However, unlike Plan B, ella can cause period pain, but not breast tenderness.
If you miss several days from hormonal birth control and want to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, emergency contraception is a good option.
You can safely take Plan B and its generic forms alongside your birth control. However, if you take ella, you will need to stop birth control for at least five days afterward.
If you’re not sure what the best course of action is for you, don’t hesitate to call your Gynecologist for advice.