Emergency Contraception Will Be Available Over The Counter Without Age Restrictions Soon
1. It should be taken ASAP – do not wait ”until the morning after”!
2. It CAN be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It just depends where a woman is in her cycle. If she is ovulating now, she has seconds if anything to use EC. If she is ovulating in 5 days, she has 5 days. (In my clinical practice with adolescents, unfortunately, they often seem to have sex right at ovulation, probably because hormones are driving them.)
3. Men and women and can buy it and should. I recommend any sexually-active heterosexual man and any fertile woman regardless of her sexual orientation have a pack; condoms break and women can be raped, respectively. Women should educate their male partners about it because otherwise they might not speak up when a condom breaks.
4. Levonorgestrel is not an abortifacent - If you are pregnant, it doesn’t end the pregnancy. It does nothing. Its main mechanism of action is that it blocks ovulation (the egg from coming out). JAMA 2006 Davidoff and Trussell, report that “virtually no evidence supports the ability of Plan B to interfere with implantation, and some evidence contradicts it.”
5. Levonorgestrel is not teratogenic – It doesn’t cause a growing embryo/fetus to mutate, grow an extra arm/leg, etc.
There are other EC options that are more effective but are NOT over the counter—ulipristal acetate (a pill, namebrand Ella) and copper IUD. If my daughters needed EC, I would give them ulipristal acetate.
Dr. Yen’s TedX Bay Area Women video with info on EC from 2010 (start at2:22go to8:19):
Sophia Yen, MD MPH is an adolescent medicine specialist whose research interest is Emergency Contraception knowledge, awareness and practices of adolescents and physicians. She is a co-founder of the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women, and an Assistant Professor at the Stanford School of Medicine and works at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in their Teen and Young Adult Clinic. She is board certified in pediatrics and in Adolescent Medicine. She is the immediate past president of the N. CA Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Her goal in life is to prevent all teenage pregnancies – “No teenager should want to get pregnant – she should have better things to do during her teen years and no teenager should get pregnant (she should have access to comprehensive sex education and confidential reproductive health care).”
She adds: Thank you Judge Korman for siding with science and calling out the politics that blocked access to backup birth control!
Great Resources on EC:
http://ec.princeton.edu/ – website on emergency contraception – has basic information and if you enter your zip code, where you can get it.
General IUD resource: http://maybetheiud.org/
http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq114.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130611T1754589001 ACOG fact sheet on EC
http://www.acog.org/Resources%20And%20Publications/Committee%20Opinions/Committee%20on%20Health%20Care%20for%20Underserved%20Women/Access%20to%20Emergency%20Contraception.aspx ACOG committee opinion on EC 2012