Deciphering Emergency Contraception: How Many Birth Control Pills Equal Plan B?

Dinesh Patel
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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how many birth control pills equal a plan b

In moments of contraceptive uncertainty, emergency contraception serves as a vital option to prevent unwanted pregnancy. 

One of the common queries regarding EC revolves around the equivalence between birth control pills and Plan B. 

While Plan B comes as a single dose, a regular birth control pill is taken consistently over a period of time. 

Understanding the equivalency between emergency contraceptives and regular birth control pills is essential for informed decision-making.

This article will examine how many birth control pills equal Plan B. 

The anatomy of Plan B and regular birth control pills

Plan B, or the morning-after pill, typically contains Levonorgestrel, a Progestin hormone. 

It functions by stopping ovulation or fertilization, hence preventing pregnancy if taken within a specific timeframe after unprotected sex.

Do not use Plan B if you have previously experienced an allergic reaction to Levonorgestrel. If you start to have rashes, swelling of the face/tongue/throat, dizziness, and trouble breathing, seek immediate medical assistance. 

On the other hand, regular birth control pills comprise a combination of hormones like Ethinyl Estradiol or other Progestins. 

These pills are intended for daily use to prevent pregnancy by primarily inhibiting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, and altering the uterine lining.

Taking Plan B within 3 days after unprotected sex can reduce your chance of getting pregnant by 75–89%.

Equivalency with regular birth control pills

Hair Thinning After Stopping Birth ControlSource: g-stockstudio_from_Getty_Images
Taking birth control pill

In certain situations, individuals may consider using regular birth control pills as an alternative for emergency contraception. 

However, approach this option with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

While Plan B One-Step is a single tablet, the dosage equivalency with regular birth control pills is not straightforward. 

Birth control pills typically require a more extended course of administration to achieve similar protection levels. 

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In general, taking 2 to 5 birth control pills at the same time may provide a comparable level of protection.

Taking extra contraceptive pills is not life-threatening. However, you might feel nauseated and get some vaginal bleeding. 

Hence, it is advised to consult your health care professional before taking birth control pills as an emergency contraceptive. 


While both Plan B and regular birth control pills aim to prevent pregnancy, their formulations and mechanisms differ significantly. 

Plan B, containing Levonorgestrel, functions as a concentrated single dose, swiftly mitigating the risk of pregnancy post-unprotected intercourse. 

In contrast, regular birth control pills, with their combination of hormones, may offer a similar level of protection when taken in higher doses.

It’s imperative to recognize that using regular birth control pills as a substitute for emergency contraception demands caution and professional guidance. 

Ultimately, in moments of uncertainty, seeking timely guidance from healthcare providers remains pivotal for informed and safe decision-making.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are two birth control pills the same as Plan B?

Two regular birth control pills might be equivalent to Plan B. Plan B, also known as the “morning-after pill,” has a higher dose of Levonorgestrel, a Progestin hormone found in some contraceptive pills. In higher doses, certain brand types work as Plan B.

Can I use regular contraceptive pills as emergency contraception?

While some regular birth control pills may be used as emergency contraception in certain situations, it is not recommended to substitute them for emergency contraception like Plan B. The dosage and formulation of hormones in regular birth control pills may not be as effective after unprotected intercourse.

Will Plan B work after seven days?

Plan B is effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, ideally within 72 hours. However, it may still provide some effectiveness up to 5 days. Its efficacy decreases over time, so the sooner it is taken, the better. Waiting beyond seven days may significantly reduce its effectiveness.

How many pills should be taken to avoid pregnancy?

For Plan B, there are typically two pills in a single-dose package. Both pills should be taken together as a single dose. Follow the instructions provided with your pill, as there may be variations. It’s important to note that its effectiveness decreases over time.

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