What You Need to Know About the Effectiveness of Plan B If You Are Stocking up Now

A stock of emergency contraception can be a good way to make sure you have it when you need it, or that you can lend it to a friend if they need it. (Plan B is available over the counter in the US, so it’s just as legal as it is with Tylenol.) But there’s one thing you should look out for: expiration date.

Medicines are about to expire?

Drugs do not last forever, although they usually last for a year or more after the date of manufacture. According to the Food and Drug Administration :

The shelf life of a medicine reflects the period of time that a product is known to remain stable, which means that it retains its strength, quality and purity when stored in accordance with the specified storage conditions.

For many medicines, expired pills are usually probably still good, you just cannot be sure. If you get an old allergy medication or pain reliever out of your medicine cabinet, it probably doesn’t matter much (although the FDA would prefer that you dispose of this old medication properly and go buy a new batch).

However, when it comes to emergency contraception, effectiveness matters.

When does Plan B expire?

You are more likely to prevent pregnancy if you take levonorgestrel (Plan B) as soon as possible after unprotected sex, and you should strive to take it in the first 72 hours, if at all possible. This medication prevents ovulation (and yes, it is the ovulation that occurs after sex that is most likely to result in the birth of the baby). It is 95% effective if you take it within the first 24 hours, and the effectiveness decreases every day you wait. According to the manufacturer, by 72 hours the efficiency is 61%.

Because you want the effective medicine to get into your body as soon as possible, you don’t want to mess with something that has expired and may not be as effective. The expiration date will be listed on the side of the package , but it is reported to be around four years . Check when you receive it and set a calendar reminder to replace the stock when the time is right.

Pay attention to how you store it

Medicines that are stored at room temperature will last the longest at around 70 degrees in a dark, dry place. Heat and light can cause the chemicals in the tablet to break down sooner than they otherwise would, so do not throw the package on a sunny windowsill or anything else. Always check the label that came with your medicines for proper storage instructions; this goes for plan B and everything else.


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