There's a lot of false and bizarre information out there regarding Plan B (mostly that it's an abortion pill, which is FALSE), so Cosmopolitan.com decided to speak with Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to get the truth on this popular form of emergency contraception.
1. It's not a freaking abortion pill. Pregnancy doesn't happen right after you have sex. It can actually take five to seven days after sex for the sperm and egg to meet, so all Plan B does is keep your ovary from releasing an egg for longer than usual so it can't join with sperm. Every major medical institution, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states unequivocally that emergency contraceptive pills are forms of birth control, and they cannot induce an abortion.
2. It's not as effective for women with a BMI over 25. Unfortunately, Plan B has been shown to be less effective for women with a BMI over 25, but that doesn't mean you don't have other options in case of an emergency. A pill known as Ella (a progesterone agonist/antagonist emergency contraceptive similar to Plan B) is a better option for women with a BMI over 25. Long-term, the most effective option for people of any weight is getting a ParaGard IUD by a nurse or doctor skilled in ParaGard IUD insertion. The ParaGard IUD can be used as highly effective, ongoing birth control for as long as you want, up to 12 years after insertion.
3. You don't have to see a doctor to get it. If you thought the only way you could get Plan B was by making an appointment, fortunately that's not the case. Anyone can buy Plan B without a prescription at a drugstore or over the Internet, or of course, by going to a health center or family planning clinic.
4. You should always keep a box around just in case you need it. It doesn't need to be taken immediately, but it works better the sooner you take it, so it's a good idea to keep a box handy in an emergency. This way you won't have to worry about running out to a drugstore or waiting for an Internet shipment that might not arrive in time for it to be effective. Also be sure to check the expiry date on the box before using it.
5. The side effects only last a day or two, and are pretty mild. While there have been no reports of serious complications among the millions of women who have used the morning-after pill, you might experience breast tenderness, dizziness, headaches, or vomiting. That said, if you do vomit within two hours of taking the pill, it's not as effective, so you'll need to take it again. Side effects are uncommon though, and usually stop within a day or two.
6. It doesn't lead to people having more unprotected crazy sex. The Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco and similar research from Princeton found that emergency contraception does not promote sexual risk-taking and that the rates of unprotected sex do not increase when people have easier access to emergency birth control, so next time you hear someone telling you Plan B makes everyone more careless, you can shut that shit down posthaste.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.