Bleeding After Taking Plan B: Common Questions 98

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

  • 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

    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).