Do you ever wish there was a pill that could take away the calories from that cake you splurged on? How about a pill to wipe away the damage to the car you backed into?
Unfortunately science hasn’t come as far as a magic medicine to keep your pant size and insurance rates down, but it does have one that helps you with another of life’s uh-oh moments: the birth control slip-up.
Maybe you forgot a pill. Maybe the condom broke. Maybe you miscounted the days in your cycle. Perhaps you were unprepared and had unprotected sex. Maybe you were forced to have sex against your will.**
Whatever the reason, there is a back-up plan available – a “Plan B,” if you will – that will significantly decrease your chances of that sexual encounter resulting in a pregnancy.
Introducing Emergency Contraceptives! (No Autographs, Please)
Emergency Contraceptives – commonly referred to as The Morning After Pill – can be taken to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex occurs.
Nicknames aside, you actually have up to five days (120 hours) after sexual intercourse to take the pill, not just the morning after. However, the sooner the pill is taken the more effective it is. Some emergency contraceptives have only one pill; others require you to take two pills 12 hours apart. Regardless, pregnancy prevention after unsafe sex is just one trip to the pharmacy away – and no prescription is needed!
Sold under brand names Plan B One-Step, ella and Next Choice, as well as generics, emergency contraception can be purchased at any pharmacy in the U.S. Prices usually range between $35 and $60. The pill does not prevent pregnancy from future sexual rendezvous, nor does it prevent sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
Does this all sound too good to be true? Emergency contraceptives critics say yes, but the facts say no.
Not An Abortion Pill
There has been a lot of talk on Internet boards, within religious organizations and even among our own political constituents about how emergency contraceptives can terminate pregnancies. In February 2012, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney referred to Morning After pills as “abortive pills.”
Sorry, Mitt, but this is simply not true. Fact: the Morning After Pill can only prevent pregnancy; it cannot terminate it.
Next Choice and Plan B One-Step are composed of one of the hormones found in birth control – progestin. This is a chemical that is also found in women’s bodies. ella relies on a component called ulipristal acetate.
What the pills do is prevent a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs (a process called ovulation). This prevents the sperm from ever reaching (and fertilizing) an egg. The hormone in the Morning After Pill also thickens a woman’s cervical mucus, which blocks sperm from joining with the egg. In a final line of defense, the pill thins the lining of the uterus, which could prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. If the egg has already been fertilized and implanted in the uterus (then called an embryo), emergency contraceptives will have no effect on it. For more information on how pregnancy occurs, visit this page.
Have you taken an Emergency Contraceptive? Why or why not? Feel free to share your experiences with and opinions of the Morning After Pill in the comments below.
**If you have been forced to have sex against your will by anyone, please contact the police immediately. Whether it happened last night or last year, you need protection and the police will give it to you. If you don’t feel comfortable going directly to the police, tell an adult you can trust.