Bleeding After Taking Plan B: Common Questions 24

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.

In an effort to slay the spam monster and ensure no comment is left unread, your comments are moderated and won't appear until approved. Sorry about that, and thanks for reading!

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

  • Liz

    I had unprotected sex sept 23 with my”friend” that same day I took plan b. On the 27th I started bleeding I guess the plan b took effect. The 27th – the 30th I was fertile and ovulating. I had unprotected sex with my MAN (he came inside me about 5 times) on octobure 3rd -5th (today) is there a chance I could be pregnant?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you took plan B the 23rd, there’s no way you ovulated the 27th if the pill worked. The point of plan B is to prevent ovulation, 4 days is just not enough time for that cycle of hormones to reboot so to speak after the large dose the pills deliver and the rapid drop afterwards that causes bleeding. It is possible you still ovulated if you took plan B though, especially because it sounds like you may have taken the pill very close to your ovulation date. In that case, the plan B can help hinder implantation, but pregnancy would be possible from the intercourse with the friend. Sperm has a roughly 5 day survival rate with the highest viability in the first 48 hours, 5 days puts you from the 23-28th, the beginning of the fertile range you gave. An egg, however, only survives around 48 hours, putting the 3rd just barely out of range if you ovulated the 30th. Being on the far side of the viability span for sperm and on the early side for your ovulation, pregnancy was unlikely from that act even without the plan B though. Hope that helps.

  • Anonymous

    Last menstual perios started July 2. had unprotected sex on 11th day of my cycle (july13), took PLAN B the following day(july14).One day after taking Plan B, ovulation prediction kit tested Positive (july 15). I usually have 28days menstual cycle, so OPK testing positive on 13th day of cycle would be somehow reliable. 7 days after taking Plan B, i had spotting (july 20). Never happened to me before. Next menstrual should’ve been 11 days from now (july 30). Could it be implantation bleeding or just side effect of Plan B?

    Posting this July 21

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      You are probably accurate in assuming you ovulated on cycle day 14-15 (a positive OPK means ovulation in 24-48 hours), that would be normal for a 28-day cycle and when plan B is taken so close to ovulation, it often does not stop ovulation. This means it’s effectiveness is reduced as it only acts to thicken the uterine lining to prevent implantation (you can read more on plan B timing and effectiveness here). That being said, if you ovulated on CD 14-15, had sex on CD 11, you’re already in a moderate chance of pregnancy zone, because the sex is within 5 days, but more than 48 hours from ovulation. Then you have to consider that 7 days is on the early side for implantation and also less common. Between the plan B use, intercourse timing, and timing of the bleed, my guess is you are indeed just seeing bleeding from the plan B itself, but, of course, anytime you have a questionable cycle like this you should test after your period due date. Hope that helps.

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          Yes, Plan B works by tricking the body into thinking it’s already pregnant so that it won’t begin the hormone cycle that causes ovulation. If the pill is taken close to ovulation, that cycle has already begun and often ovulation happens just as it usually would. That doesn’t necessarily make taking plan B close to ovulation worthless, because it does also thicken the uterine lining to make implantation more difficult. The only time I ever tell folks plan B is just going to mess up your hormones and offer no help, is when the sex is just before a period (this time also poses the lowest chance, if any, of pregnancy all cycle).

          • Anonymous

            You’re probably right it’s withdrawal bleeding,it lasted two days.And BFN on pt kit. But now, a day after it ended, i tested positive again on OPK, for two consecutive days!! With very visible lines, and i have been having abdominal pain, like what i experience mid cycle when ovulating. So it is usual to ovulate immediately after withdrawal bleeding?

          • Life with Gremlins admin

            It would be unusual to ovulate again so soon, if you’re using the line tests, keep in mind that 2 lines isn’t positive. The test line should be darker than the control line. PCOS can also interfere with ovulation tests. I also have yet to find a why (I am still looking into that one actually), but anecdotally, I have had many women state they get positive tests a few days before their period.

    • Anonymous

      Missed my period for 5days now. Still BFN on PT kits, when should I expect my period to arrive if I had withdrawal bleeding a week after taking Plan B?

      • Life with Gremlins admin

        Unfortunately with Plan B use it’s hard to say. There isn’t really a normal there, it just depends on how your body handles the hormone shift. Many women see a regular cycle length after the break through bleeding (count the bleeding as cycle day 1). If you are 14+ days from the intercourse, and your tests are negative, it’s very unlikely you are pregnant.

        • Anonymous

          But is the cycle between withdrawal bleeding and next menstrual period ovulatory? Meaning is there a chance i will get pregant if i had unprotected sex in between?

          • Life with Gremlins admin

            It could be, yes. Plan B works by delivering a huge dose of hormones usually present in pregnancy that prevent ovulation. Once those hormones dissipate, you get withdrawal bleeding. With those hormones gone, the body returns to it’s normally programmed hormone cycle so to speak. In cases, there can be some upset afterwards from the sudden ups and downs, so not everyone returns right back into a normal cycle, but many do, and there’s no way to know which you’ll be.

          • Anonymous

            Thank you for all your responses! I learned a lot! Btw, i just had my period today! Delayed for exactly a week.

  • Lily

    I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend on July 24th and took the pill the next day. I started bleeding (period I assume) on the 30th. I’ve read that that’s normal, but then I started bleeding again on the 10th. I am worried that this second… period? is not normal and that my hormones/cycle is messed up and something is wrong. Should I be concerned?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Because the pill is hormone based it often causes temporary imbalance which can cause irregular bleeding, that’s my bet here, but if you prefer be on the safe side wait until 14+ days after the act and take a home pregnancy test.

  • Shannon

    So I got my period last month on 8 May… After My ovulation week I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend on the 21st and he did not pull out in time so within 24 hours I went and got Plan B… I started bleeding on the 29th, I wasn’t supposed to get my period until the sixth… I bled until the 5th, then it stopped and started up again the seventh and now it’s still going today is the 11th… I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend again the eighth ninth and 10th… Because I was bleeding and he convinced me it would be OK because I was on my period so we did not get Plan B this time.. Technically I have been bleeding since the 29th when my period came early after taking Plan B… i’ve been thinking about it a lot and I decided to look up if you could get pregnant while with drawl bleeding because of her that’s what it’s called when Plan B makes you bleed

    • unwirklich admin

      Plan B will often induce a period, so to speak, but if taken early enough in your cycle you wouldn’t ovulate and it wouldn’t be a true period. In your case, assuming May 8 was cycle day 1 (first day of bleeding) the 21st was cycle day 13. If you run a 28-day cycle it is unlikely the plan B stopped ovulation, because that cycle of hormones would have already begin (ovulation likely CD 14), so the bleeding you experienced would be a true period where the lining and the egg were shed. That would mean your next ovulation date would have been projected for June 12th (14 days from the 29th) making pregnancy from intercourse the 8/10 possible. However, since you’re still seeing bleeding, it sounds like your hormones are little messed up from the plan B and fertility is probably nonexistent or reduced anyway. 🙂 Hope that helps.

  • Star

    I took Ec but a generic brand of Plan B called Take Action on January 1st the same day I experienced sexual assault. He did not full on ejaculate because I pushed him away so intercourse lasted maybe a few seconds to a minute. A a caution I took the EC because I was afraid of precum. Anyway I started my period a week early so on July 14th like three days before the expected period due date. The bleeding lasted the normal 6 days. Just in case I took many pregnancy test especially 21 days after EC and they all came out negative. I am just still worried of pregnancy though due to strange symptoms that I have been getting. My doctor thinks is my ovarian cyst causing pregnancy like symptoms, but I am still not conceived. mostly because Research I have done has me paranoid even though I tested many times still negative.

    What confuses me since I researched a lot on EC, basically saying the bleeding you get after EC does not count as a period. That it’s “withdrawal bleeding,” but how when it seemed like a normal period I would get in this month only came three days earlier?

    Now I am worried that I have to wait another month for my next “actual period” and have to go through the stress of waiting. So does this months bleeding count as a period? I thought that if you do not get your period within the month you took EC you could be pregnant. Now seeing that it’s “withdrawal bleeding” is not your period and does not count worries me a lot.

    So someone please give me advice on this situation if I took a test 21 days after the situation wouldn’t a positive show up by now? And was that my period that I got a week after taking the pill? Since I started three days early then my expected period. Thank you for your time of reading this.

    • unwirklich admin

      EC will trigger a period of sorts, as it’s progesterone based. Progesterone is always present in the later half of your cycle, it rises to maintain the uterine lining and then if you don’t become pregnant it’s drop is what causes a period. The pill delivers a large dose of progesterone that works to trick the body into thinking it’s pregnant so that it doesn’t ovulate and builds a thicker lining to prevent implantation. When that dose dissipates levels drop rapidly just like they would before a period, and you get bleeding. The lining is shed just like in a period, and since there was no ovulation, this essentially is a period, however the hormonal cycle that normally follows a period may be delayed and you can end up with a wonky cycle, irregular bleeding, and weird symptoms afterwards as a result. Ovarian cysts will also make that hormonal fallout worse because they in themselves can cause hormonal imbalance. In general a pregnancy test is accurate about 14 days after intercourse, so at 21, you are more than in the safe zone. I hope that helps.

          • Star

            According to my OBG he said I am not he has done a pelvic exam and I recently had another test done at the doctors it came out negative. I did have a weird period in February but lasted the 6 days I have also been having weird symptoms but tested negative for flu and strep so currently I am going through many test to figure out why I feel sick I am still paranoid if I am some how pregnant because other forums I have read that some have late implantation or pregnancy doesn’t show till they are like 9 weeks pregnant and that’s what freaks me out I have been having a sore throat, pressure on my sinus area, runny stuffy noes, nausa, body aches, sneezing, chills, loose stools, cough, tightness in throat, and shortness of breath. All those symptoms are strange because I was negative for flu and strep so they are currently doing further testing. I am trying to just trust the doctors answer and as well as the other 16 pregnancy test I took yes belive it or not I was so worried I took one almost a week. I just need to stop looking at other forums about how others have symptoms and don’t find out they are preganant till they go in the ER for stomach pains and find out they are going into labor, Or that women bled every month even if they are preganant and not know they are preganant. So I am confused and just hoping I can trust the doctors negative results since it’s been way more then 21 days we are already in the month of march

          • unwirklich admin

            If the doctor did a blood test for hCG, it is impossible to get a false negative there without lab error. Most of the symptoms you mention aren’t pregnancy typical either, this sounds more like some sort of viral infection. Hopefully they figure it out soon for you. 🙂