Eugene, age 20, writes:
My friend and I had unprotected sex and I didn’t pull out, but 4 days later I had her take plan one step B. I believed that this would have taken care of the situation, however her home pregnancy test that she took on the 17th (her period is due on the 13th) came out as a very faint positive.
I’m wondering why the line on her pregnancy test was so faint. Did the Plan B work, is she going to miscarry? I’m so confused, I’d just like a bit of help on this issue.
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Plan B is most effective when taken right away after having unprotected sex. The longer you wait, the lower the probability that it will be effective. It’s always best to take it within 12 hours of the “incident.” The instructions for Plan B typically say to take it within 72 hours. Even as you push into taking it a couple days after having sex, you’ll be seeing a drop in its effectiveness.
Taking it 4 days late is extremely risky if you expect it to do its job; however, some studies have shown Plan B to be effective even up to 120 hours (which would be 5 days), but I wouldn’t place any bets on that one. Once the egg has been fertilized by the sperm and embeds itself to the wall of the uterus, Plan B will not be effective.
The primary intent of Plan B is to stop ovulation from ever taking place. Plan B contains a progestin called levonorgestrel which inhibits or delays ovulation. The classic abortion pill, RU-486, contains a synthetic steroid which is called mifepristone; this steroid interferes with the body’s ability to produce progesterone which is necessary to continue pregnancy. Plan B is unrelated to RU-486 but can still function as an early abortifacient (i.e. a substance which causes abortions). If ovulation has taken place and some sperm does fertilize the egg, then Plan B’s “backup” is to make it very difficult for the fertilized egg to implant itself to the wall of the uterus. But, once the fertilized egg has embedded itself to the wall of the uterus, Plan B is no longer effective.
Regarding the very faint line on the pregnancy test, I’m assuming that you very carefully followed the instructions, especially the time limit? If a home pregnancy test is examined after the time limit specified within the directions, there is a chance that the faint line is just a urine line. My recommendation would be to take a second pregnancy test; have your girlfriend take the HPT first thing in the morning with her concentrated urine. Be very careful to look for a pregnancy line precisely at the time specified in the HPT’s instructions. Don’t look back at the test several minutes later wondering if the test really was negative and then noticing a faint line that all of a sudden showed up. The latter would most likely be merely a line from the urine.
However, all of this to say that if the home pregnancy test does come back positive, it is most likely that she is pregnant due to taking the Plan B later than recommended.