Bleeding After Taking Plan B: Common Questions 124

Plan B, also known as the morning after pill, is an emergency contraceptive that if taken within 72 hours of an unprotected sexual act can help dramatically reduce the chance of pregnancy. However, chances are if you are searching about bleeding after taking Plan B you already know what it is because you’ve taken it.

bleeding after taking plan B morning after pill

Is bleeding after taking Plan B or emergency contraceptives normal?

Yes, a little over 26 percent of all women that use a form of emergency contraception experience irregular periods afterwards being early, late, lighter, or heavier than their normal cycle. You may also experience spotting and menstrual-cycle-like symptoms such as abdominal cramping, nausea, fatigue, and headache. Nausea is the most common side effect of plan B after irregular bleeding occurring in approximately 25 to 50 percent of all woman depending on the particular pill taken. If any of your side effects are on-going (beyond your next period) or become severe such as bleeding that requires sanitary changes every hour, consult a health care professional.

What causes bleeding after taking Plan B?

Emergency contraceptives work similar to a regular birth control pill except that they contain significantly higher doses of hormones. It is because the majority of morning after pills, and the most commonly used pill, Plan B, contain progesterone or are only progesterone that bleeding after taking the pill is so common.

Progesterone is a hormone the body produces naturally to maintain the uterine lining and prevent ovulation. Normally, after ovulation the rise of progesterone is signaled. If you become pregnant, progesterone levels continue to rise. If you don’t become pregnant, they drop, and this causes your period to begin. In essence, birth control uses progesterone to fake the body into believing it’s already pregnant to prevent ovulation (you don’t ovulate during pregnancy). High levels like those in Plan B will also thicken the uterine lining significantly, which would make implantation difficult.

As it’s a sudden drop in progesterone that usually causes your period,  the sudden drop when the dose from an emergency pill dissipates can cause bleeding. The introduction of progesterone outside of the body’s natural cycle also often causes a bit of hormonal imbalance which may lead to irregular spotting. Progesterone, being responsible for many common pregnancy symptoms, can likewise cause pregnancy-like symptoms outside of pregnancy along with bleeding.

Long story short: Hormonal imbalance.

When will my menstrual cycle return to normal after irregular bleeding caused by the morning after pill?

In most cases, menstruation returns to normal the following month. In fact, you may even still have your regular scheduled period even if you already had bleeding shortly after taking the morning after pill. If menstruation continues to be irregular, consult a health care professional.

Can I get pregnant after taking Plan B?

Yes. Not only are Plan B and other emergency contraceptive pills not 100 percent effective, but when ovulation will continue after taking the pill is uncertain. The effectiveness of Plan B may also hinge on when in your cycle it was taken. If you do not wish to become pregnant, you should continue a regular birth control method immediately. Do not use the morning after pill as a regular form of birth control. They are not designed for frequent use. If you do wish to become pregnant, the use of Plan B will not prevent or effect future pregnancies.

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124 thoughts on “Bleeding After Taking Plan B: Common Questions

  • Taylor

    Hello, I’m somewhat new to this so I’m hoping you can offer any advise that will help calm my nerves.

    My periods are pretty regular and come around the 21st-23rd every month, and my partner and I just started having unprotected sex earlier this year. I had my last period on June 22nd (and it ended on the 27th), had unprotected sex on July 1st around 2:30 AM, and took an emergency contraceptive within an hour or so later.

    On July 9th, I had light brown bleeding start around 1PM. It increased some the following day and it became a mix of either dark brown or red blood, just depending on what it wanted to do. The amount was less than my typically flow, but I believe it was more than spotting or implantation bleeding. I had nausea, occasional fatigue, and gas during this time. It lasted for roughly 6-7 days so it officially stopped on July 15th, somewhat like my typical period. I’ve used a couple pregnancy test strips during this time and they’ve both came out negative (one of these times I had to throw one out and use another since it seemed like the result would be invalid or wouldn’t accurately pick up my urine sample). I haven’t tested for pregnancy yet since the bleeding stopped.

    I’ve taken the same morning after pill once before with the same partner on I believe around September 1, 2017. The only thing that really happened that time was my period coming on roughly a week earlier than usual on September 16th, and my periods went back to normal after that. The period before that started on August 12, and I missed one on July(Why? I have NO idea at all since I didn’t have sex at all that month.), so Idk if that played a part in my period coming when it did the first time I took my emergency contracteptive.

    So I wanted to know if you think the bleeding was just a side effect from the pill based on what’s happened to me so far, or could I possibly still be pregnant? This may be a silly question, but will the pill also have different side effects on your body each time you take it? I know it can throw your future period(s) off, but can it give your different side effects in between each time it’s taken?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The pill can affect your differently each time, yes. This is more likely if it’s been quite awhile since you last took it (as hormones change over time) or if you took it at a different point in your cycle, because your starting hormone levels can affect things. Since the pregnancy test strips you took were before 14 days after the act (so July 15th-ish when the bleed stopped), it’s possible they were inaccurate also. I always recommend folks take a test in accurate range after any situation they feel requires plan B, bleeding or not, because you can actually have bleeding and still be pregnant.

  • Ally Smith

    I got my period June 20th and it ended June 26th. I had sex with my ex on June 28th and it was protected most of the time. However, we did do it without a condom for maybe 5 minutes max. He did not ejaculate in me and he pulled out but within 45 minutes of the act I went to CVS and bought plan b. I have taken plan b two times before and it has delayed my period (first time I took it my cycle was 30 days and the second time I took it, it was 31 days and my cycles usually are 26-28 days) and I did experience side effects such as nausea and cramping. The first time I took it I got dizzy and nauseous for about a week but the second time I took it I had no symptoms at all. The previous times I have taken plan b was on April 6th and May 1st of this year. This third time that I have taken plan b, I had light spotting 5 days after the sex (July 3rd). I also had really bad nausea and horrible mood swings. The spotting/bleeding started off as pink and brown color and was very light and then the next day it got heavy and turned red. The second day the blood filled up a tampon and I had to change it out. It looked more like a normal period. Then the third and final day (July 2nd) of the bleeding, it turned into brown spotting. I’ve read that this is a side effect of the plan b but I just wanted to check to be sure. I charted my spotting on my period tracker app and it says that now I shouldn’t get my period till July 29th. However, I am having some slight cramping now and it hasn’t been quite three weeks after the act (July 17th). I have some slight nausea but I think thats from stressing out about this and its all in my head. I haven’t had any vomiting at all or any other pregnancy symptoms (yet lol) but I just wanted to check and make sure I am not pregnant. I’ve been reading things online about plan b to ease my mind so I’m hoping a response to this can help ease my mind as well!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      5 days would be too early for the bleed to be pregnancy related, so my bet is it was from the plan B, yes. The intercourse timing is also unlikely for pregnancy (CD 8 with ovulation likely around CD 13-14). Anytime you take plan B it’s best to take a test 14+ days after the act to verify you didn’t become pregnant (bleeding isn’t a sure sign), but the result is likely to be negative (which I hope helps ease your mind 🙂 )

  • Kristina

    Hello, I have a question about this. I’m all very new to the sexual game so I have yet to get on birth control when my instance occurred, and now I’m trying to gain the courage to make an appointment to procure some. Anyway. I first had sex on June 3rd and took Plan B on June 4th. This made my June cycle a couple days late. I started on the 19th though, thankfully, without issue. I saw him again and I was stupid but I wanted to have sex again. So it was the last day of my period flow, June 23rd. I had taken Plan B again on the 24th. Stupid to take more than one in a month, but it was my only option since I hadn’t seen a gyno yet and I was too in the moment to enforce condoms. Well since I took it before my ovulation was ser to occur, I assume it pushed back my ovulation like it was intended to do. I have not yet experienced cervical mucus. Around June 30th-June 1st I started to experience brown spotting and light cramping. The bleeding lasted at least four days and the blood turned more of a normal red and more of a flow that would soak through wadded up toilet paper (gross yes but I was at work with no pads) so I assume this was not implantation bleeding because cramping lasted the entire time as the blood became heavier, resembling a lighter period. Two days ago I started cramping semi mildly again and yesterday spotting while I wiped after urinating. According to my Clue app, which I have been using diligently since December, I should have started my July cycle today. I know Plan B can throw off menstration, but is there any way I could be pregnant after that unnaturally scheduled bleed and now I’ve randomly been spotting two days before a normal bleed (which is unusual for me)? I dont think he finished in me, pulled out right in time. But it was close because I felt his semen on my leg but nothing was dripping from me. Thank you for your time.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Pan B isn’t 100% effective I’m afraid, and bleeding isn’t always a sure-sign it’s worked. The timing on the second act at least doesn’t sound like it would pose a high chance of pregnancy, so my bet is that the close-together use of plan B is behind the irregular bleeding, but you could always take a test to be certain. You’d want to wait 14+ days from the last sexual act.

  • Christina

    Hi, so June 27 I took Plan B after having unprotected sex on the same day. July 4, I had bleeding which was probably from the pill. July 6, I had unprotected sex again as I thought that I was already having my period. Now, July 16, which is about the time I’m supposed to have my actual period, I’m having dark brown bleeding. Is this my actual period already or it can be implantation bleeding?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Plan B often causes irregular bleeding and can mess your cycle up a bit (usually just the cycle it’s taken in). Unfortunately, bleeding isn’t a sure-sign you’re not pregnant either. You’ll want to take a test 14+ days after the last unprotected act to be sure.

  • Symone

    I had unprotected sex yesterday and he came in me. Right after that I jumped in the shower and when I got out he was there with the pill. I took it and ever since it’s been the only thing on my mind. I have this period app, FLO, and it says that today is my ovulation day. The timing was horrible but I took the pill right after…is the pill less effective. Please right back quickly I’m slowly losing my mind.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Plan B is less effective near or after ovulation, yes. This is because Plan B works two ways, first to stop ovulation, and second to thicken the uterine lining and prevent implantation. If ovulation has already occurred or is too soon to stop, you’re only getting that second factor. I’m sorry, that’s unlikely to ease your mind. Without plan B use, the average couple only has around a 25% chance of conceiving though, so there’s good chance you won’t become pregnant either way.

  • Ellisa Cones

    I had unprotected sex on June 1st and took a Plan B pill on June 3rd, which is within 72 hours. My fertile window also opened on June 3rd which was a chance for me to get pregnant I believe. I was supposed to start my expected period on June 22nd but I got it on June 10th which is exactly a week after I took the Plan B pill. I was experiencing bloating as I usually do for 2 days before my period. When I used the bathroom, a lot of blood came out of me like a normal period but while standing up and moving around the blood only stains my pad, no actual blood comes out. I know Plan B affects your period but I’m also scared that it’s implantation bleeding. I normally have blood clots when I have my period and I currently have them still but they’re not as a lot as they usually are. Did the Plan B work?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Unfortunately bleeding is not sure sign plan B has worked as it’s simply a symptom of hormone withdrawal. To confirm you aren’t pregnant a test is the best route, taken 14+ days from the unprotected act (so after June 15th sometime).

      • Ellisa Cones

        Update: I’ve had light brown blood or discharge (I couldn’t really tell) after 4 days of having red colored spotting. I’m assuming the light brown blood/discharge was old blood. This lasted for about 5 days and now my discharge is back to normal. My period usually lasts 5 days and I was supposed to have my expected period on June 22nd but I started bleeding exactly a week after taking Plan B which was June 10th. I know Plan B sometimes makes you have spotting and that it may delay your period or your period will come early. I’m not sure if that was my period or just spotting from taking Plan B. If it wasn’t just spotting, when should I expect my actual period to come?

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          Unfortunately that’s impossible to say. Everyone responds to plan B differently, though most only see cycle upset in the weeks after use. As far as a fair guess, you would count the first day or bleeding you would call a “flow” as cycle day 1 and expect your period around your average cycle length from that day, just keep in mind it may be earlier or later. It’s really just a rough guess. In general that’s why it’s a good idea to test after plan B use (14+ days after the intercourse).

  • Anastasia

    Hi, so I had my period on May 17 for about 6 days , after it was done I had taken plan B on May 26 11 pm the same day of intercourse. The following Tuesday I had started to bleed which I understand can happen. This lasted for 5 days. Now, today I have begun spotting again, which is June 11. Is this normal? I have taken plan b prior, have been searching google with no answers. I feel this is to close in between to be bleeding like this. If it’s serious I will go to the hospital, however I want to know if it it normal with plan b. Thanks in advance!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Because plan B is hormone-based it very frequently causes cycle upset. My bet was the first bleed was a result of the pill hormones dissipating, and the second bleed was a wacky period being 25 days after your last period.

  • Caitlyn Weiss

    Okay, so I had my period May 16th thru the 22nd. I believe I was supposed to start ovulating on the 29th. I could be wrong. But on the 25th I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend who “forgot” to pull out and came in me… (believe me I was pissed and scared) So the next day (May 26th) we went and bought Plan B and I took it around 1pm. Now last night (May 31st) I was experiencing light cramps, went to the bathroom and noticed brown discharge. And this morning (June 1st) I noticed it turned into a darker red. So is that me getting my period from taking Plan B? I just got scared because I have taken Plan B before 2 other times and this never happened then, it just made my following period a little late.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The bleeding is too soon to be related to pregnancy, so yes, definitely from the plan B use. How you react to it is going to vary partially based on when you take it in your cycle because your personal hormone balance is different. At the tail end of your cycle, you added a large dose of estrogen and progesterone to already high progesterone levels. Progesterone is what stops your period from happening, so it being high would lower your chance of spotting from the pill. This current dose was just before ovulation where estrogen levels are high. Estrogen works mostly to build your lining, rather than maintain it. So when you introduced the large dose of hormones this time, when those hormones dropped again it there was no high progesterone to stop the spotting, so you had some bleeding. Hope that helps relieve some anxiety. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I had unprotected sex on may 17 I took plan b less then hours after. But on may 24 I started which seems to be my period but that would make my period 2 weeks. I went to the doctor and took a pregnancy test it came back negative but I’m freaking out because I don’t know if it’s normal to get your period 2 weeks early. I have also taken plan b before but I have never experienced this before.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Irregular bleeding is one of the most common side effects of plan B use, but a pregnancy test now would have been too early. I would recommend re-testing 14+ days from the intercourse or 4 days late for your projected period start date.

  • KJR72

    Hi so I’m freaking out a little bit. on April 13 I got my period and it ended on the 19th however I took plan b before this around April 4th or 5th (I took it because I was scared that pre cum could have gotten into me). On April 25th I am afraid that pre cum could have gotten into me again through fingering, so I took plan b the day afterwards. On May 2nd (the day my expected ovulation was supposed to be) I began to have brownish discharge which soon turned into actual (light) bleeding and on the 7th day I started to have brownish discharge again. Is this considered to be normal? I am scared that I could be pregnant.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Spotting is considered entirely normal after plan B use, yes. The chances of pregnancy with precum are also very low (less than 4 percent) and that figure assumes regular vaginal intercourse, not just fingering. You could always take a test to ease your mind, but I’m confident your result will be negative.

  • Anonymous

    Had unprotected sex on 4/17 (CD 12) Took Plan B on the same day about 5-6 hours later. On 4/22 (CD 17) I had a brownish discharge and began bleeding heavily for 3 days and it continued lightly for another two days. When should I expect my period? It’s currently day 27 and I’ve been experiencing fatigue and cramping. My cycle length is pretty irregular but it’s always more than 30 days. Thanks!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The bleed on 4/22 was likely from the plan B, but it may also alter your upcoming period. Everyone reacts to plan B differently, so it’s hard to say what will happen, but you could see a slightly delayed period, a period your normal cycle length as if 4/22 were day 1, or even an early period. Keep in mind it’s also possible to become pregnant even with bleeding after plan B, it’s recommended you test 14+ days after the intercourse (so now should be accurate).

  • nikki

    so I had sex with my partner on april 12th but the condom was broke and have rush to the pharmacy took the plan b immediately, after 2 days i have been having stomach pain also a back pain,on the april 18th ,today I began having dark brown bleeding, should I consult a Dr? Thanks

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      2 days is too soon for your symptoms to be pregnancy related. They’re most likely a result of the plan B use. As it’s a hormonal-form of birth control, there can be some symptoms of hormonal imbalance following use. It’s still a good idea to test once your projected period would be due, but as of right now if there’s no severe pain, odor, or itching, there’s no reason to see a doctor in my opinion, no.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, so I had unprotected sex on the 17th and took the plan b in the early hours of the 18th, on the 25th I began having dark brown spotting, which continued for a couple of days, then the colour changed to a slightly brighter red, and apart from one day where I had heavy bleeding for an hour, it hasn’t gotten any heavier but appears everytime I go to the toilet I notice it when I wipe and I’m still experiencing cramping today, I know your not a medical professional necessarily but should I consult a Dr? Thanks

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Plan B often causes irregular bleeding and/or delayed/early periods, because it alters your hormone levels. In most cases, things get make to normal the following cycle. I would still recommend a pregnancy test 14+ days after the act, as bleeding after plan B doesn’t guarantee you aren’t pregnant. As long as there’s no pain, itching, or odor, there’s no reason to see a doctor in my opinion, no.

      • Anonymous

        I took 2 dosages of plan B 4 days apart and 4 days after i took the second dosage i spotted red light spots for a day and the second day the dark brown spots followed by cramps and nausea and headaches and feeling tired for the last 3 days and also the day i started spotting happens to be a day before my supposes ovulating day according to my phone app. Today is the end of 2nd day of spotting. And how is bleeding a sign that the plan B didn’t work?

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          Bleeding isn’t a sign that plan B didn’t work, it just isn’t a sure-sign that it did. In your case, the bleeding is likely hormonal fall out from multiple uses so close together. Even a single use of plan B often causes irregular bleeding, so with two, those chances are even higher.

          • Anonymous

            The bleeding stoped after 6 days of spotting and bleeding which varied in color and quantity. That was 9 days ago. My period is expected to be the day after tomorrow and i’m having headaches,nausea and dizziness. Should i expect it to come as expected? And are the symptoms just PMS? Or is it going to be late for sure? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me!

          • Life with Gremlins admin

            It’s impossible to say when your period will return to normal. It could show on time. It could show your proper cycle length after the bleeding you experienced (counting the first day of flow as day 1). It could stay gone awhile. Plan B effects everyone differently unfortunately. Your symptoms could be PMS or from the pill use, but they could also be from pregnancy. I’m sorry I can’t help more, but because the hormones in plan B are designed to trick the body into believing it’s already pregnant, and the symptoms of pregnancy are hormonal imbalance, telling hormonal flux (PMS), from pill side effects or pregnancy is very difficult.

  • Anonymous

    I had a miscarriage on January 19. I didn’t have any of the symptoms of pergnancy and when I found out it was devastating for me . I waited a month to have sex again with my boyfriend . My cycle hasn’t come back so my boyfriend and I had unprotected sex on February 21 I took the plan b on February 22 . Just today February 26 ,4 days after taking it plan b . I started bleeding or spotting . Anyway I’m concern about it cuz idk if it’s my PEROID or the plan b or something else . On top of that Idk when I’m going to get my PEROID. I know it was irresponsible in my part for having unprotected sex but I’m scared that I might be pergnant . Please help

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Because your hormone balance was already out of whack from the loss, it’s impossible to say if your bleeding was a true period or just from the plan B use. I would go ahead and mark it as the start of your period as far as tracking purposes, but it’s possible your cycle will still be irregular. I’m sorry for your loss. If you’re concerned the plan B may not have worked, you can always take a test (wait 14+ days from the unprotected act).