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Does my weight affect which emergency contraception I can use?

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A lot of you asked us:

Is it true that Plan B isn’t effective for women who weigh 176 pounds, and it becomes less effective at 165? What other emergency contraception options are there?

We’re working to make sure that everyone has all of the information they need in order to decide what’s best for them when it comes to emergency contraception. Let’s break down the facts:

What’s emergency contraception (EC)?

Emergency contraception (also called the morning-after pill) is birth control that you can use up to 5 days after unprotected sex (like if you don’t use a condom or forget to take your pills, for example).

There are a few different kinds of emergency contraception:

  • There are two different types of EC pills:
  • Ulipristal acetate, known by the brand name ella
  • You need a prescription from a nurse or doctor to get ella
  • Levonorgestrel pills, including the brands Next Choice One Dose, My Way, and Plan B One-Step
  • Plan B One-Step is available at drugstores over the counter, without a prescription for anyone, regardless of gender or age.
  • The sooner levonorgestrel pills are taken after unprotected sex, the better they work.

Why is Plan B One-Step in the news?

It was recently announced that in Europe, a method of emergency contraception which is identical to Plan B One-Step pills is now going to include information on the label stating that these pills are less effective in people over 165 pounds and may not be effective in people over 175 pounds. This label change was based on analysis of a 2011 study.

I weigh more than 175 pounds. What are my options for EC?

The most effective option for people of any weight is getting a ParaGard IUD inserted by a nurse or doctor. If you’d rather take a pill, you can take ella. Weight can also be a factor for ella effectiveness: If you have a body mass index (BMI) that’s higher than 35, it’s less effective (but still worth a shot if you can’t get an IUD). Click here to learn more about ella.

If the IUD or ella aren’t options for you and you weigh more than 175 pounds, it’s perfectly safe to take Plan B One-Step or Next Choice One Dose—but it may not work for you.

How do I get ella?

You need a prescription from a nurse or doctor to get ella. You can also consult with a doctor through the ella website and get it delivered to you the next day. (You need to have a credit card and be 18 to order it online.)

When it comes to weight and effectiveness of emergency contraception, more study is needed but, until then, if you weigh more than 165 and need EC, ella and the ParaGard IUD are your best bet. If you need EC and have questions about which EC method is best for you, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center.

-Chelsea at Planned Parenthood

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    Wow. I didn’t know this. The last thing I want is for someone to drop $40 on a pill that won’t even work for them and...
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    This is probably really good to know.
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