Sometimes, life just happens. Maybe you got caught up in the moment and didn't remember to use protection. Or perhaps you ended up in a sexy encounter and realized the condom broke a little too late. Although having unprotected sex can come with a whirlwind of different emotions, knowing how soon you should take Plan B after having unprotected sex is actually pretty straightforward.
"Plan B can be used within 72 hours of having sex to prevent getting pregnancy by 89%," Dr. Sherry A. Ross, Women’s Health Expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., tells Elite Daily. "It is most effective when taken within 24 hours of having sex."
According to Dr. Ross, many call Plan B the "Morning After Pill" because it's most effective when taken the morning (or within 24 hours) after having unprotected sex. Although Plan B is most effective when taken one day after doing the dirty, Dr. Ross shares that the pill can still be up to 89% effective for three days after having unprotected sex. That's, like, an entire long weekend.
Additionally, Dr. Ross says that when faced with a stressful situation, the best course of action is staying calm and levelheaded (i.e., not stress-eating a family-sized bag of Cheetos and panicking). Plan B, or "emergency contraceptives," are there to help you make the choices that are right for you and your body.
"Women should use emergency contraception under the following circumstances: Having sex without birth control, a condom breaking, a birth control method failure, such as missing more than three birth control pills in a row, or a partner not pulling out in time," Dr. Ross says.
Tara Evans, Plan B One-Step Spokesperson, echoes Dr. Ross. "Plan B One-Step should be used after unprotected sex or birth control failure, like when you miss a pill or the condom breaks," Evans tells Elite Daily. "It needs to be used within 72 hours, but the sooner it’s taken, the better it works. Plan B is a backup method of preventing pregnancy and should not be used as regular birth control."
Maybe you left your birth control pills at your friend's house and forgot to get them back for a week. Or perhaps you still haven't settled on a method that works best for you. Whatever the case, feeling unprotected after having sex with someone can be super stressful.
"Creating a 'Plan A' of a reliable birth control method is a whole lot less stressful than needing to go to Plan B," Dr. Ross says. "[But] if reliable birth control was not part of the game 'plan' serious tactics can be taken to make sure you cannot get pregnant."
After having unprotected sex, it's natural to feel overwhelmed, but taking Plan B can help put your mind at ease. Remember: Although the best time to take Plan B is within the first 24 hours after having unprotected sex, the pill can be effective up to three days after. At the end of the day, when it comes to taking care of your body, there's no wrong time to do what's right for you.