Is the Morning-After Pill Over the Counter?

Is the Morning-After Pill Over the Counter?

Is the Morning-After Pill Over the Counter

Panic rushes over you as you realize your birth control method just failed, so you call your best friend, and she suggests you take the morning-after pill.

You aren’t sure how to go about getting it, and you might be asking:

“Is the morning-after pill over the counter?”

“How does the morning-after pill work?”

“Do I need to see a doctor for a prescription?”

“Is it safe?”

These are all important questions. Let’s start by looking at the morning-after pill and how it works.

What is the Morning-After Pill?

The morning-after pill is also called “emergency contraception.” Sometimes, it is confused with the abortion pill, but it’s different. The abortion pill is a medical abortion after a viable pregnancy is confirmed. The morning-after pill may be taken up to five days after unprotected sex (or if contraception has failed) to prevent a viable pregnancy. The sooner it’s taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is in preventing pregnancy.

How Does the Morning-After Pill Work?

The morning-after pill works three ways:

  1. Preventing an egg from releasing from an ovary
  2. Preventing an egg from being fertilized by sperm
  3. Preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining (This is important to understand if you have a personal conviction about abortion.)

Now that you know what the morning-after pill is and how it works let’s talk about if it’s available over the counter.

Is the Morning-After Pill Over the Counter?

You understandably want your privacy protected, so you’re wondering how you can obtain the morning-after pill discreetly.

There are three main types of morning-after pills available with one of them being available to anyone over the counter:

  1. Levonorgestrel 1.5 mg (Plan B and generic forms): This is one pill that is 89% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex. It can be purchased by anyone, of any age, over the counter at a pharmacy. You won’t need a prescription or identification to buy it.
  2. Levonorgestrel .75 mg (Next Choice): This is a 2-pill version that a woman can take up to five days, or within 120 hours, of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It can be purchased over the counter if a woman is 17 or older. Anyone under age 17 needs a prescription.
  3. Ulipristal Acetate (Ella): This version of the morning-after pill may be used up to five days after unprotected sex and is available only by prescription.

Is the Morning-After Pill Safe?

All medications have side effects and risks. When you take the morning-after pill, you are taking ten times the amount of progesterone as a birth control pill, which can give you side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Stomach and intestinal pain
  • Bleeding and irregular periods

As with any medication, it’s crucial to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision about taking the morning-after pill.

We Can Help

Make an appointment with us at Thrive St. Louis. We are here to confidentially answer your questions if you think you might be pregnant. We listen without judgment and provide the unbiased answers you need so you can make empowered decisions for your future.