- After the overthrow Roe v. Wade, people are considering plan B to prevent pregnancy.
- But sexual health experts warn that the pill doesn’t work for everyone.
- The morning after pill may be ineffective depending on a person’s weight and menstrual cycle.
“Just take Plan B.”
For many, Plan B has been hailed as a miracle morning-after pill. It can be up to 95% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken immediately after unprotected sex and is available without a prescription. But contrary to what you may have heard, the pill does not work for everyone.
Sexual health experts warn that it is not a substitute for the abortion pill. Plan B has no impact on existing pregnancies and may not be accessible, affordable, or effective for everyone – depending on body weight and menstrual cycle.
“One of the things that keeps people from using Plan B or knowing about it is that it’s confusing,” saysCynthia Harper, professor at the University of California, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in San Francisco.
“It’s a sensitive subject and the more people read about it and understand the pros and cons…then they’ll be much better equipped to take care of themselves in this new context that we find ourselves in.”
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What is Plan B and how does it work?
Plan B is a form of emergency contraception that must be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex. It is usually sold for $50 at pharmacies such as CVS and Rite Aid, and there are no age required to buy.
One tablet dose works by delaying ovulation with a hormone called levonorgestrel. According to Planned Parenthood, it can reduce your chances of getting pregnant “by 75% to 89% if you take it within three days of unprotected sex”.
But as the name suggests, Plan B is recommended as a backup method of birth control, not the primary one.
“Plan B is not a birth control method. It is an emergency contraceptive method,” says Michael Hope, sexologist and reproductive justice activist. “It should not be used on a regular basis as that is not how it was designed. Plan B works like a birth control pill but contains a much higher dosage of hormones…so it can disrupt normal levels of hormones in your body.”
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Plan B is not effective for everyone. For whom does it not work?
Timing is everything: since plan B prevents ovulation, it won’t work for those who are already ovulating. Harper explains that this is because the egg cannot be prevented from being fertilized by sperm once released from the ovary.
Additionally, certain medications and supplements may impact the effectiveness of Plan B, such as St. John’s wort herb or certain antiepileptic drugs. And research has supported that the pill may fail in people with higher body weight. Some studies, such as a 2011 study published in the journal Contraception, found it to be less effective for people weighing more than 170 pounds. Organizations like Planned parenthood do not recommend using Plan B if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.
The exact science surrounding the relationship between Plan B and weight is unclear. But Catherine White, associate professor of OB-GYN at Boston University School of Medicine and author of “Your sexual health,says this may be due to the impact of body weight on levonorgestrel metabolism and distribution.
“When the drug is distributed over a larger body weight, there may be less hormone in the blood to tell the brain to tell the ovary not to ovulate, because the hormone gets diluted,” White says.
Can you take multiple Plan B pills for safe measure?
Experts say there is no limit to the number of times a person can take plan B. However, a Oregon Health Sciences University study found that doubling the dose of Plan B does not prevent ovulation, nor does a single dose.
Rather than taking Plan B regularly — which could cause irregular bleeding or spotting — health experts recommend other birth control options such as the copper IUD or the lesser-known, safe-only emergency contraceptive. prescription, the Ella pill, for those who weigh between 155 and 195 pounds.
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What will happen to Plan B now?
Since Roe’s downfall, concerns have arisen about the future of birth control and Plan B. Already, drugstore chains like Rite-Aid and CVS have set purchase limits due to overwhelming demand, and some states have enacted restrictions on emergency contraceptives,according to the Guttmacher Institute, some excluding it from contraceptive coverage mandates and others allowing pharmacists to refuse its distribution.
“Not everyone knows about Plan B. You need to know where to get it and if it’s available – and not every pharmacy stocks it. Not every pharmacist will decide to give it away, especially in a state with restrictions on parental consent for teens on birth control,” White says.
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Harper adds that while Plan B doesn’t require a prescription like most birth control methods, it’s still out of reach for many, especially low-income and marginalized youth. An important way to increase equitable access is to encourage accurate awareness of contraception through inclusive sex education.
“We can’t separate the idea of removing reproductive rights from the limitations we see in sex education across the country,” Hope said. “Sex education is the best way for us to educate young people, the marginalized groups most at risk, on how to protect themselves and how to make the best decisions for their bodies, their reproductive health, their relationships and their health. sexual.”
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