Switching to Plan B in Birth Control
“Everyone like a sex. Is nice!” Borat would say. On a college campus packed with thousands of hormone-driven students, there’s going to be a good amount of it “going on.” However, there are risks, like acquiring a sexually transmitted disease or getting pregnant. Condoms and birth control do wonders against these dangers, but accidents still happen. For example, the condom can break, or she can forget to take two or more of her pills this month. We all make stupid decisions sometimes.
Unfortunately these are decisions that can ruin a person or couple’s life. People our age are sometimes too young to deal with the responsibilities of raising a child. Furthermore, we still have many experiences to encounter before we approach those crossroads. We’ve all seen it happen in movies and TV shows, when a woman walks in as the man is happily washing the dishes and she tells him she’s pregnant. He then drops a dish and freaks out, and they begin to have a serious talk. It can be a juicy or even funny thing to watch, but it’s typically not something people our age want to experience anytime soon.
In terms of preventing pregnancy, there is a second option out there that some people don’t know about.
It is called Plan B, a cute name for a very serious situation. It’s a morning-after contraceptive pill that prevents ovulation or fertilization. It’s called the “morning-after” pill because it’s meant to be taken after unprotected intercourse if the female partner is at risk of pregnancy. This pill is not to be confused with the abortion pill RU-486, which is used to terminate an existing pregnancy. Plan B, like any contraceptive, is meant to prevent pregnancy and does nothing if taken when already pregnant. It is available for purchase at select local pharmacies without a prescription if you are at least 18 years old.
Plan B essentially works like a birth control pill. It prevents pregnancy by halting the release of an egg from the ovary and by averting an egg from attaching to the uterus. Again, Plan B will do nothing to an already-fertilized egg attached to the uterus (an existing pregnancy). The pill is FDA-approved and contains the hormone levonorgestrel, which is the same hormone in birth-control pills that doctors and healthcare professionals have prescribed for over 35 years. The main difference is that Plan B contains a larger dose of this hormone than a single birth-control pill.
However, don’t assume that you can just take a whole bunch of regular birth-control pills to substitute the effects of Plan B or other morning-after pills because the effects could be unsafe. After unprotected sex, you only have a short period of time to prevent pregnancy. If you take the pill within 72 hours, it’ll decrease the chance of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.
Plan B works even better if it’s taken within the first 24 hours after having sex. After you take the first pill, there is a second pill in the pack that you must take exactly 12 hours later, or the pill may not work. You will know Plan B did its job if you have your menstrual cycle at the expected time, or within a week of the expected time (Plan B can shift your cycle earlier or later by up to a week). But if your cycle is delayed beyond a week, you may want to get a pregnancy test and check with your doctor.
There are a few things to keep in mind about Plan B. For one, do not use it to replace your regular method of birth control or rely on it as a safety net for unprotected sex. The pill also has some side effects, but they are microscopic in comparison to having your life forever changed by an unwanted pregnancy. Women who use it may experience vomiting, stomach pain, menstrual changes and headaches. More information on Plan B can be found at www.go2planb.com.
It’s amazing that this pill has not received greater publicity. It has the potential to prevent a life-altering mistake and is a wonderfully neutral alternative to the touchy subject of abortion. It can also offer relief to a woman faced with raising a child on her own if after being sexually assaulted or being abandoned by the father. It can also help young women who are morally opposed to abortion.
Like any form of contraception, religious fundamentalists have bashed Plan B for being “unnatural” and “not the right way.” Some people worry that couples may consider it as a reliable solution for safe sex, but Plan B does nothing to prevent STDs or HIV. Also, its results are not 100-percent guaranteed. The base price is around $40. Plan B is meant to be a one-time thing if you stupidly had unprotected sex, or as an emergency measure in the case of an accident.
Regardless of the reason, Plan B is definitely something sexually active teens and adults should be informed about. It can keep more people in school, instead of dragging them out in order to raise a child simply because of a mistake. Anyone will tell you that your future is at least worth $40 and a trip to the pharmacy.