There are two FDA-approved types of morning-after pill emergency contraceptives: Ella and Plan B One-Step. Several generic versions of Plan B One-Step also exist, including My Way, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action, AfterPill, and more.
How Do They Work?
Both types of emergency contraceptives prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg that would be fertilized by sperm. If you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control method didn’t work, you can take the morning-after pill up to three to five days after sex to reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Plan B One-Step
Plan B One-Step and its generic forms release a hormone called levonorgestrel, which prevents ovulation. This is the same hormone used in many intrauterine devices. You don’t need a prescription to buy Plan B One-Step and can take it up to five days after having unprotected sex. The sooner you take the pill, however, the more effective it will be.
You take Plan B One-Step as a single pill. Some of the generic versions have two pills that you can take together or 12 hours apart.
Ella contains ulipristal acetate, which also stops ovulation. You take just one pill up to five days after having unprotected sex. You must have a prescription from a healthcare provider to buy Ella. Some studies have shown that Ella might be more effective than Plan B One-Step because it doesn’t lose as much of its efficacy over time.
Both pills are safe and effective. Some women have mild side effects such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, abdominal pain, and irregular bleeding or periods after taking the morning-after pill. These go away quickly and don’t have long-term effects.