The Take Action Morning After Pill

Emergency Contraception Use and Review

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Take Action is an FDA-approved emergency contraception option available to help prevent unintended pregnancy. It consists of a single pill and is meant to be a backup method to help prevent pregnancy. This means that it is not meant to be used as regular contraception.

Take Action contains levonorgestrel—a progestin that has been safely used in many birth control pills for several decades. The main difference is that Take Action has a higher amount of this progestin than regular combination birth control pills have. It also does not contain estrogen.

Take Action is not for all situations, and it comes with potential side effects. Understanding the details can help you make an informed decision on whether it's an option for you.

Take Action Morning-After Pill Side Effects
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell


There is some debate over the exact way that Take Action works. Because it contains levonorgestrel like the pill, it is believed that Take Action prevents pregnancy in a similar way that the pill does.

According to the more popular theory, the Take Action morning-after pill prevents pregnancy by stopping you from ovulating. This means that Take Action basically prevents your ovary from releasing an egg.

FDA guidelines require that all manufacturers of levonorgestrel morning-after pills must specify on the product labeling that emergency contraceptives may also work by not allowing a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. That being said, there is conflicting evidence about whether or not levonorgestrel-based morning-after pills affect implantation.

As with any morning-after pill, Take Action is most effective the quicker you use it. Morning-after pills become less effective as more time passes.

Take Action will be most effective if you take this morning-after pill within 24 hours of having sex. The effectiveness is lower if you use Take Action within one to two days. Then, the effectiveness rate drops again if Take Action is used after two days have passed.

Morning-after pill reviews and research suggest that when used properly, Take Action can significantly reduce your chances of becoming pregnant. Research shows that about seven out of every eight women who would have gotten pregnant will not become pregnant after using Take Action.

What It's Not Used For

It is important to be clear about what Take Action and other morning-after pills cannot do.

Will Not Terminate a Pregnancy

Take Action is not the same thing as the abortion pill (RU486). Why? The morning-after pill does not contain the same medication as RU486. If you use Take Action and are already pregnant, it will not cause a medical abortion.

Take Action will not terminate an established pregnancy. If you are already pregnant and use Take Action, it will not harm your existing pregnancy.

No Continued Protection

Take Action is meant to prevent pregnancy after a single episode of unprotected sex or contraception failure. This means that Take Action will not continue to protect you against pregnancy throughout the rest of your menstrual cycle.

If you have unprotected sex again (after using Take Action), this morning-after pill will not give you any additional protection, so it's crucial that you use some additional type of birth control.

Will Not Prevent Infections

Additionally, Take Action will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STD) or HIV.

When to Use

Take Action can be taken at any time during your monthly cycle. Take Action should only be used as emergency birth control. You should consider using Take Action if you did not use any birth control while having sex or if you think contraception failure might have occurred during sex, for example:

  • A condom slipped off or broke, perhaps because it was not used correctly.
  • You realized that you forgot to take birth control pills for the last few days.
  • You miscalculated your fertile days and had sex when you could be ovulating.
  • You just realized that your NuvaRing accidentally fell out.

You should use Take Action as soon as you can. Just a reminder, Take Action should be used within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex or birth control failure.

Emergency birth control, in general, has been shown to still be effective up to five days after unprotected sex, so it may still be useful to use the Take Action morning-after pill for up to 120 hours.

Side Effects

When used correctly, Take Action has been shown to be a safe emergency birth control choice for most women. The most common side effects of Take Action include:

  • Changes in your period
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal (lower stomach) pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Dizziness

Changes in your menstrual cycle may also result from using Take Action. Using this morning-after pill may cause your next period to be heavier or lighter than it usually is.

There is also the chance that you may have some spotting before your next period. Using Take Action could also result in your period starting earlier or later than when you would typically anticipate it to begin.

There is the possibility that you may throw up after using Take Action.

You should call your healthcare provider if you vomit within two hours of using Take Action and ask whether or not you should repeat the dose.


The only way to tell for sure that Take Action has worked is if you get your period. You will know that Take Action has been effective if your period comes at its normal time or within one week of when you anticipated it to begin.

If your period is more than seven days late, it is possible that you could be pregnant. If you think that this may be the case, you can take a home pregnancy test to either determine whether or not you are pregnant. If you have a positive pregnancy test, you should follow up with your healthcare provider.

Researchers have suspected that there could be a link between progestin-only contraceptives (like the morning-after pill) and ectopic pregnancies. However, studies indicate that the risk of ectopic pregnancy can vary by type of progestin and the risk should not be a deterrent for the use of these methods.

You may have an ectopic pregnancy if:

  • It has been three to five weeks since you used Take Action.
  • Your period is late.
  • You are having severe abdominal pain.

If you think this may be the case, try to seek immediate medical attention.

Where to Buy 

The court case Tummino v. Hamburg played a huge role in the FDA's decision to approve Plan B One-Step, as well as it's generic alternatives, to be sold over-the-counter, with no age restrictions.

Take Action can be purchased over-the-counter, without a prescription, no matter your age.

Age Labeling

Due to FDA requirements, the packages of other one-pill levonorgestrel-based generic morning-after pills (such as My Way, AfterPill, and Next Choice One Dose) must say that they are intended for use in women 17 years of age or older.

This labeling requirement was put into place to protect the three-year exclusivity agreement with Teva (the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step)—since Teva was responsible for conducting clinical research trials that demonstrated morning-after pill safety and effectiveness for females ages 16 and younger.

Because Teva is also the manufacturer of Take Action, this morning-after pill does not violate the exclusivity agreement and does not have this labeling requirement.

Prescription for Insurance

Even though Take Action can be purchased over the counter, you may still need a prescription (regardless of your age) if you want your insurance to cover the cost of this morning-after pill. You can check with your health insurance policy about coverage requirements.

Buying Tips

Because Take Action is more effective the sooner it is used, to save time, you may want to call your local pharmacy/drug store before going to make sure that they have Take Action in stock.

You may also find it helpful to buy Take Action ahead of time—this way, you will already have it handy, so you can take it immediately if you need it.


In general, Take Action costs about 20% less than its branded equivalent Plan B One-Step. It is a less-expensive alternative.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the morning-after pill?

    The morning-after pill is a form of emergency birth control used to prevent pregnancy for women have had unprotected sex or whose birth control method has failed.

  • When is the morning-after pill used?

    The morning-after pill may be used if you are not on reliable birth control and have had unprotected (condomless) sex. It is also used if a birth control method has failed, examples of which include:

  • How do morning-after pills work?

    Morning-after pills work by disrupting or delaying ovulation or fertilization of an egg, which are necessary for pregnancy to take place. The pills contain either progestin (a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone) or anti-progestin agents.

  • What types of morning-after pills are there?

    In the United States, two types of emergency contraception (EC) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • How does Take Action compare to Plan B?

    Take Action is the generic equivalent of Plan B One-Step. Take Action costs around 20% less than Plan B, something to take into consideration if paying out of pocket.

  • How long is Take Action effective?

    All levonorgestrel emergency contraceptives, including Take Action, should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex but may offer protection from pregnancy for up to five days.

  • What is the best morning-after pill?

    Plan B doesn't work as well as Ella after 72 hours. However, Ella needs a prescription, while Plan B and generic versions like Take Action do not. Ella also tends to work better in women who weigh more than 155 pounds.

  • Are there alternatives to morning-after pills?

    Yes. A copper intrauterine device (IUD) is, in fact, the most reliable form of emergency contraception and works as well on day five as it does on day one. With that said, an IUD can be hard to obtain within five days and must be inserted by a healthcare provider.

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