Plan B and the Abortion Pills: What’s the difference?

23 / 04 / 2020

Plan B – also known as the morning after pill, the day after pill and the emergency contraceptive pill - is not the same thing as the abortion pills. I repeat, they are not the same product and neither do they work in the same way. Let’s break it down.

Plan B works as an Emergency Contraception (EC). This means that it works to stop a pregnancy from starting. The abortion pill works to terminate an existing pregnancy by inducing a miscarriage.

What are the main differences between Plan B and the abortion pills?

Plan B contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic version of the hormone progestin. The abortion pills contain either misoprostol alone or a combination of misoprostol and mifepristone.

The abortion pills only work if you are already pregnant (11 weeks and below). Click here to learn how to use the abortion pills.

Plan B only works to prevent a future pregnancy and only if it is taken soon after sex (within 72 hours). It will not work if you are already pregnant. Click here to learn how to use Plan B.

The abortion pills will only work if you are currently pregnant and fall within the correct gestation age. The abortion pills cannot prevent a pregnancy from occurring.

In technical terms, Plan B delays or prevents the release of an egg from the ovary. The abortion pills stop a pregnancy from continuing and expels it from the uterus.

Some key facts

Both Plan B and the abortion pills are safe to use and effective when used correctly. Neither product causes infertility or any serious or long-term side-effects. Both are safe to use in the comfort of your home though in some very rare cases, health provider support may be needed.

Depending on the country you live in you may be able to access both Plan B and the abortion pills directly from pharmacies without requiring a prescription. Please always make sure to check the expiry date of any product before purchase and avoid purchasing products from unreputable businesses.

There are certain medication that can make Plan B ineffective. Check with your health care provider is you are currently taking any of the following:

  • Barbiturates
  • Medications to treat HIV, tuberculosis, or seizures
  • The herbal supplement St. John’s wort

Plan B is not meant to be used as a regular form of birth control – it’s really for those ‘oops, oh no’ moments so to speak. With the abortion pills, pregnancy can re-occur very soon after termination so it’s important to choose a birth control method that is right for you. Our partner, Findmymethod.org provides information on various contraceptive options and an interactive tool that allows you to compare, contrast and filter each option until you find that prefect one. Visit them to today and discover the beautiful world of contraception.

The bottom line

Plan B stops a pregnancy from developing if taken within 72 hours. The abortion pills safely and effectively end an already-existing pregnancy within the first 11 weeks.