What’s the Difference in the Abortion Pill and Plan B???

 In Abortion

You may have heard the terms “the abortion pill” and “Plan B” used interchangeably, but these drugs are used for different things and work in very different ways. Let’s break it down a bit.

Plan B is designed for women who want to ensure they do not become pregnant, especially if their method of birth control fails.

The abortion pill is taken when a woman already knows she is pregnant and wants to terminate the pregnancy.

Plan B is a backup method of birth control. Plan B is sometimes referred to as the morning-after pill. This is because Plan B is designed to be used only within 72 hours of having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

Plan B uses the drug levonorgestrel to delay or prevent a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation).  However, if ovulation has already taken place, the morning-after pill will not be able to prevent this. A single sperm and the mother’s egg cell meet in the fallopian tube. When the single sperm enters the egg, conception occurs. Plan B can create an inhospitable environment for a fertilized embryo by irritating the lining of the uterus. This means an embryo would be less likely to attach to the mother’s womb after taking Plan B, thus it would not survive. An induced miscarriage would likely follow.

Like every medication, Plan B has side effects. These can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps


The abortion pill termination is also called a medical abortion. The abortion pill is actually a method using two drugs that work together.

The first drug, mifepristone, is used to block progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone the body uses to support and “grow” a pregnancy; without it, the pregnancy ends. These pills would be taken as round 1 of the treatment, to be followed by the second round of pills 

The second drug, misoprostol, is taken within 48 hours after the first round of pills. It causes the uterus to begin contracting, which forces the embryo out of the body through the vagina.

Risks of the abortion pill include:

  • Incomplete abortion 
  • An ongoing pregnancy 
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

A medical provider should be consulted as soon as possible if a woman experiences the following signs of complications after using the abortion pill:

  • Severe bleeding — soaking more than two thick pads within an hour
  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • No period after two months
  • Symptoms of pregnancy

It is important to note that the abortion pill will not work for ectopic pregnancies (tubal pregnancy) which is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus. This requires a separate medical procedure, as it can be very dangerous and life-threatening for the pregnant woman if it is not resolved quickly. An ultrasound is required to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy.


If you have questions about pregnancy, the Pregnancy Care Clinic is here to help. We offer free medical-grade pregnancy tests, free limited ultrasound, and options counseling. Though we do not offer Plan B pills or abortion pills, our knowledgeable team can provide information on both. Contact us today to schedule a free pregnancy confirmation appointment and learn more about your options. We also provide an abortion pill reversal treatment if you have taken the first round of pills and then change your mind. It is most successful if it is provided within the first 72 hours after beginning the abortion pill procedure. 

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