October 30th, 2012
“There is a certain formula of birth control that you can use as a morning after pill…you know, if the condom breaks,” she practically whispered to me.
It was 2003, and my college roommate’s father – a pharmacist – had told her a special combination of common birth control pills would effectively prevent pregnancy just like emergency contraceptive pills (ECP).
At the time, emergency contraceptives were available for roughly $60 a pop to adults by prescription – meaning only those who had an up-to-date annual exam from a doctor willing to write the prescription could get them. She told me the formula was common pharmacist knowledge, but ECP manufacturers obviously discouraged the spread of such information. The pharmacist known for teaching women of any age how to obtain the effects of an ECP with less expensive birth control would likely be…unpopular.
Indeed, the idea of skirting that economical barrier seemed almost magical to me. So magical that I thought it too good to be true, and I never pressed her for the “secret formula.”
In the years since, access to ECP has changed dramatically and emergency contraceptives are now available over the counter to anyone over the age of 17. Brand name “Plan B” has become synonymous with ECP and the “morning after pill” is common jargon. From politicians to teenagers, debates to commercials, everybody is talking about emergency contraception and nobody is whispering anymore.
But with all this discussion, what surprises me most is how few people still know that there are cheaper alternatives to buying designated Plan B One-Step, ella, Next Choice or other ECP.