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The morning after alternative.....

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The morning after alternative.....

I know that this is a touchy subject for many people, but Plan B is an oral emergency contraceptive that is currently OTC (over the counter) for women over the age of 17, and under 17 they have to get a prescription from an HCP to be able to obtain this emergency contraception.  So, I want to clear up a few misconceptions about Emergency contraception, how it works, and when it is used.   It was recently recommended as an appropriate OTC medication for women of all ages, but the US government is currently trying to block that. I won't try to sway you either way, but I want you to know the facts.

What is Plan B?
Plan B (AKA "The morning after pill") is merely an emergency contraceptive, meant to be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex to help prevent the chances of an unwanted pregnancy. It consists of progestin levonorgestrel, and can either be taken in one dose or two (Plan B is two pills taken 12 hours apart versus Plan B One-Step is only one pill).



How Does it work?
Taking Plan B can have a few different actions, based on what stage your body is in your menstrual cycle.  It can either delay or prevent ovulation, or it can interfere with the fertilization/implantation of an egg.  Now, if you are already pregnant, it will NOT TERMINATE a pregnancy.  It is not an abortion pill, it merely affects the lining of your uterus due to the fluctuations in hormones.  This treatment is commonly used in hospitals for woman who have been sexually assaulted.  If you take it within 24 hours of unprotected sex, it is 95% effective in preventing pregnancy and 89% effective if taken within the 72 hour time frame, of course the sooner you take it, the more effective it is.  Remember: Plan B DOES NOT PROTECT YOU AGAINST STDs!!

When should I consider taking it?
If you had unprotected sex
The condom broke or fell off
You missed more than 3 pills of your regular birth control in one month
Your diaphragm moved/fell out
You were sexually assaulted (Please go to the nearest Emergency Room for treatment and call a sexual assault hotline)
Your form of birth control was forgotten or failed

When should I NOT take Plan B?
If you are pregnant
If you have an allergy to the ingredients
If you have any type of abnormal bleeding/ pain that you have not seen your HCP about yet

What are the side effects?
It is considered pretty safe, but there are some side effects, such as:
nausea
vomiting
abdominal cramping
headache
menstrual changes
breast tenderness
diarrhea

I am not going to tell people what to think BUT Plan B is not an abortion pill, and it can be a safety net for people who have made mistakes. Why prevent younger women who are sexually active from having access to Plan B?  I am not a proponent of 13, 14, 15 year olds going around having unprotected sex, but let's face the facts, we have all either seen or heard of Teen Moms, a popular TV show, so it clearly happens, let's take the middle man out of it an allow younger women to obtain the morning after pill, along with pamphlets of information on who to contact (and HOW to contact) an HCP for free/cheap treatment and counseling.

The side effects are minimal, and the $50-$70 price tag might be steep for some people, but allowing someone who made a mistake to have the mental freedom of knowing that their mistake will not haunt them for the rest of their lives is priceless.

Yours in Good Health
B


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