Problems with the Morning After Pill

Dr. Vilma Ruddock
Nauseous woman clutching stomach and mouth

Although often minor, some women do experience morning after pill problems. Rarely do any women have serious complications. The biggest problem lies in what to do if the pill fails.

Minor Problems and Side Effects

Some problems and side effects of the morning after pill, or Plan B, are similar to those of a full cycle of other birth control pills. According to Mayo Clinic, this method of emergency contraception can cause the following symptoms which are usually mild and short-lived:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Break-through spotting or bleeding during the rest of the menstrual cycle
  • The next period might be delayed or lighter or heavier than normal

If the nausea causes you to vomit within an hour or two of taking the pills, you might have thrown up most or all of your dose. Call your doctor to find out if you should take another dose of pills to be protected from conceiving.

Prolonged Symptoms

Side effects usually last only a day or two. If your nausea or breast tenderness are still present for more than two weeks after taking the pill, there is a chance you might be pregnant. These symptoms are also early pregnancy symptoms.

Serious Side Effects

A few more serious, but less common, side effects are possible with the morning after pill. See a doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Severe abdominal pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision or other eye problems
  • Leg or arm pain/numbness

Call 911 immediately for any severe symptoms.

Avoiding Morning After Pill Problems

The contraindications for taking the morning after pill are the same as for other birth control pill regimens. To avoid problems, don't take the morning after pill if you have a history of any of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or a heart attack
  • Undiagnosed vaginal bleeding
  • Cancers of the reproductive tract or breast

Pregnant After the Morning After Pill

Emergency contraceptive like the morning after pill is effective if used as recommended within the 72 hours after unprotected sex. However, it is not 100 percent effective, so there is a chance an unwanted pregnancy might occur. The sooner you take the pill after sex, the more effective the method. If you are more than a few days late for your next period check with your doctor or you can start by doing a home pregnancy test.

Birth Control Methods

It is best not rely on the morning after pill as your main method of pregnancy prevention. There are other options that are safe and effective for preventing conception and avoid the need for an emergency contraceptive.

Other methods of birth control include the IUD, the birth control pill, the skin patch, the vaginal ring, or the DepoProvera shot. Condoms, the sponge, or natural family planning are other options. Talk with your doctor about an option that suits you. There are also ways to get free birth control samples if money is a problem.

A Safe Method

In an emergency situation, the morning after pill provides an easy method to try to avoid a pregnancy if you are exposed to unprotected sex. If you find yourself needing to use it, you can be assured that the method is safe, there are only a few mild side effects, and serious problems are uncommon.

Problems with the Morning After Pill