What is the Difference Between the Abortion Pill and Plan B?

Abortion Pill and Plan B next to each other in packaging

Misinformation. It seems to be everywhere these days, even when talking about an unplanned pregnancy. Are you confused about Plan B and how it works? Are you a little frightened about the idea of “medical abortion”? Do you know what to take and when? Let’s straighten out the confusion.

The Abortion Pill

The Abortion Pill is a medical abortion, also known as RU-486. Contrary to its name, it isn’t one pill. It’s a two-step process starting in a clinic between nine to twelve weeks of pregnancy. How do you know the exact week of your pregnancy? You must have an ultrasound. An ultrasound is a non-surgical imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the inside of your uterus. You see the picture on a computer screen. You’ll receive real-time information about your pregnancy. You’ll find out how far along you are and if your pregnancy is viable (a heartbeat is detected). If your pregnancy is longer than about ten weeks, you will have to have a surgical abortion instead.

After having an ultrasound, you will take the first pill, Mifepristone (Mifeprex®), in the clinic. This pill blocks a hormone known as the “pregnancy hormone,” which helps the fetus attach to the wall of the uterus. The drug causes the lining of the uterus to thin and prevent the embryo from staying implanted. The second drug, Misoprostol, causes the uterus to expel the fetus through uterine contractions. You take this drug on your own within hours or even a few days after the first one.

The side effects of the Abortion Pill

This is a serious medical decision, and it’s essential to know the side effects of any significant medical procedure. An abortion often has lifelong emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical consequences.

Here are a few of the abortion pill side effects:

  • Heavy Bleeding
  • Headache
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Fever
  • In some cases, infertility

Plan B

Also known as the “morning-after pill,” Plan B is used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or the failure of other birth control methods. You take this pill shortly after having had intercourse. However, for it to work, you also have to take it before conception. Plan B uses the hormone levonorgestrel. This hormone is used to change your cervix, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach. You must know your 28-day menstrual cycle. Plan B will not work If fertilization has already occurred.

Every woman’s cycle varies. To know when ovulation and fertilization have happened, you must pay close attention to your body. You can download a period-tracking app, but it’s only as useful as the information you put into it. Manufacturers suggest you take the pill no more than 72 hours after intercourse for Plan B to be genuinely effective.

The side effects of Plan B

Like any medicine you take, you need to know the possible side effects.

Here are some common Plan B side effects:

  • Count on a change in your cycle
  • Fatigue
  • A difference in your menstrual flow (usually heavier)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tender breasts

The Difference

As you can see, these two procedures are very different. The Abortion Pill terminates an existing pregnancy. Plan B prevents pregnancy. If you’ve had several sexual partners or unprotected sex, it’s essential to use regular contraception and get tested for STD/STI infections.

Visit Us For Answers

If you discover an unplanned pregnancy, schedule confidential, no-cost pregnancy testing with Robbinsdale Women’s Center. If we confirm your pregnancy, we can also offer you a no-cost, limited OB ultrasound. Then, let’s sit down and talk about your options. You don’t have to do this alone. We’re here to help you.

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