Taking the morning after pill can be a little scary if you don’t know what to expect. Many women wonder how the pill will affect their next period, especially because they’re eager to get it and confirm they’re not pregnant. Let’s take a look at what your first period after emergency contraception will look like.
What can you expect for your first period following the morning after pill?
The way the morning after pill works is by delivering a high dose of a hormone called levonorgestrel, a type of progestin or artificial progesterone. When your body gets bombarded with this hormone, it can affect your period (and entire menstrual cycle) in a few different ways:
Next period vs. morning after pill spotting
After taking emergency contraception, it is normal to experience some light bleeding or spotting as an effect of the extra hormones. It is important to note that this bleeding is not the same as your period. Here’s what you can expect from any morning after pill bleeding:
Plan B, also called the morning-after pill, stops you from getting pregnant by interfering with your menstrual cycle. This means you might notice irregular bleeding after taking the pill.
While some unexpected bleeding is normal, spotting can also be a sign of implantation, one of the early stages of pregnancy.
Here's how to interpret your post-Plan B bleeding to determine if Plan B worked, or not.
Does Plan B make you bleed?
Bleeding can start any time after taking Plan B — some people start bleeding as early as eight hours after.
"It is common for there to be unexpected or atypical bleeding after taking Plan B," says Felice Gersh, MD, the medical director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine. The reason plan B can cause some bleeding has to do with how it works.
Plan B works to prevent pregnancy by stopping or delaying ovulation. It does this by supplying a synthetic version of progesterone, a hormone your body naturally makes, says Abigail Cutler, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin.
Having high levels of progesterone can trigger your body to shed the lining of your uterus. When this lining is expelled from your vagina, it shows up as spotting or bleeding.
"This change in hormone levels is also the reason that some people experience a change in the expected timing of their period following Plan B," Cutler says.
Plan B can trigger your period to come early, so bleeding or spotting may be a sign that it's working, Gersh says.
According to a 2006 study of people who took Plan B:
You can tell the difference between spotting and your period because spotting tends to be shorter and much lighter than your usual bleeding.
Most people should expect their period within three weeks of taking Plan B, Cutler says. "If you don't get a period within 3 weeks, it's a good idea to take a home pregnancy test to make sure the pill worked," says Cutler.
Plan B bleeding vs. implantation bleeding
Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of your uterus — this is typically the first stage of pregnancy, meaning Plan B didn't work.
There are a few ways to tell the difference between spotting, implantation bleeding, and your period:
Your period may also come early if you take Plan B. The menstrual blood should be similar to your usual period, but it may be darker and stickier than usual.
If you think you may have implantation bleeding, you should wait at least three days from the start of bleeding to take a pregnancy test. This will give your body time to build up pregnancy hormones and give you an accurate result.
Other side effects of Plan B
In addition to bleeding, Plan B can cause other side effects, including:
The most common side effects of Plan B are nausea and cramping, while vomiting and diarrhea are rarer.
When to see a doctor
In rare cases, bleeding after taking Plan B can be a sign of something more serious, especially if it comes with other symptoms like severe abdominal pain.
Generally, bleeding after Plan B shouldn't last much longer than a week, so prolonged bleeding can be a sign of a problem like an ectopic pregnancy or may lead to a dangerous amount of blood loss.
It's also concerning if your bleeding is too heavy, meaning you have to change your pad or tampon at least every two hours for longer than a day, Gersh says.
If you're having any of these symptoms after taking Plan B, it's best to see your gynecologist to make sure there isn't a more serious issue.
Other symptoms that should raise an alarm include:
Also, if any of the normal side effects like nausea or cramping last more than a day or feel severe to you, it's best to get medical attention, Gersh says.
It's normal to experience bleeding after taking Plan B, especially if you get your period early or just have light spotting. It's also normal to have mild side effects, such as nausea or cramps.
But if your symptoms feel severe or your bleeding doesn't stop after a week, it's best to reach out to your doctor to check if there is a more serious issue.
Madeline Kennedy is a health writer for Insider covering a wide range of topics including reproductive and sexual health, mental health, nutrition, and infectious disease. Before joining Insider, Madeline worked as a health news writer for Reuters, and a domestic violence therapist. She has a master's degree in social work from UPenn and is interested in the intersection of health and social justice.
Can Plan B cause second period?
It causes a change in hormone levels, which can affect the usual pattern of your menstrual cycle. This can lead to spotting between the time you take it and the beginning of your next period. It can also cause your period to start up to a week earlier or a week later than you would otherwise expect.
Can Plan B Make You get your period twice in a month?
The morning-after pill might cause you to have an irregular period the month after taking it. The effects, however, are mild and should return to normal by your next cycle.
Does Plan B Make Next periods different?
Levonorgestrel is found in birth control pills, but Plan B contains a higher dose that can alter your body's natural hormone levels. The extra hormones can, in turn, affect the menstrual cycle, leading to an earlier or delayed period as well as heavier or lighter bleeding.
Is it normal to have a 2 week period after taking Plan B?
Some people who take Plan B experience light bleeding or spotting for up to 1 month afterward, and this goes away on its own. Keep reading to learn more about how Plan B works, some possible side effects, and what to do if this form of emergency contraceptive is ineffective.