I know you read the last Skepchick’s Guide and you realized, “Oh hey! Condoms are for me!”
So you ran out, bought yourself some latex, non-latex, glow in the dark, french ticklers, flavored and edible condoms; and hooked up with a dreamy geek at your local Skeptics in the Pub last night. You got home, handed him your basket of assorted sheaths, and he said, “Rigorous scientific testing is required!!
Then somewhere between the 3rd and 7th round of testing, you experienced a failure. One of your glow-in-the-darks broke or maybe you mistook an edible for a non-edible. Either way, the mistake was realized after the deed was done.
It’s time to turn to Plan B! Now available OTC to all ladies age 17 and older.
What is Plan B?
Plan B, aka “the morning-after pill” is an emergency back up to your normal contraceptive. It is not meant to be used as routine birth control.
Plan B is a treatment course of 2 pills, taken 12 hours apart, the first pill being taken within 72 hours after the oopsy incident.
The pills are similar to birth control pills. They contain a high level of levonorgestrel, a hormone contained in many BC pills, which stops ovulation, or if ovulation has occured, prevents fertiliazation and implantation.
How do you get Plan B?
Even though Plan B is OTC, it isn’t sold on the shelves between the condoms and Airborne. You have to get it from the pharmacist. The official website can tellÂ you what local pharmacies carry it. But, to be safe, I recommend calling ahead to find out if they have it in stock.
For anyone who is hesitant to walk up to the counter and ask for it, the Plan B website has a card you can print up and hand to your pharmacist. (It currently says that prescription is needed for ages 17 and under, but I expect it will be updated soon to reflect the new law.) So if you’re worried about being harrassed by customers who disagree with your lifestyle choice, or you just want to make it look like you have a secret junior-high style crush on the pharmacist, you can just pass him the note. (“Do you think I’m cute? [yes] [no] If so, I need Plan B.”)
Is Plan B the same as RU486?
Plan B is a hormone pill that works like a birth control pill in that it prevents pregnancy from occurring.
RU486, the abortion pill, is used to terminate early pregnancy.
Plan B will not terminate a pregnancy; it cannot. It can only prevent it from occurring in the first place. If you are already pregnant, Plan B will do nothing to remedy your situation. In fact, if you are pregnant and your hobby is spending money on useless medications, Plan B is perfectly safe to take during pregnancy.
Plan B stops ovulation and prevents fertilization. Essentially, you’re just sending sperm on a snipe hunt – a snipe hunt that will ultimately lead to their demise, but a fools’ errand nonetheless.
How effective is Plan B?
If taken properly, effectiveness is around 89% – slightly more effective (about 5%) than improperly used condoms.
Why can’t Plan B be used as Plan A?
It’s called Plan B for a reason. The first reason is that it has a failure rate of over 10%. Other hormone-based birth controls (to be discussed soon) are much more effective – the best being over 99% effective.
It also comes with some rather unpleasant side effects. One Skepchick blogger said that, after using Plan B, she was so nauseous, she couldn’t get out of bed for 2 days.
The side effects are similar to what you’d normally experience with your period or early pregnancy:
- Abdominal pain
- Heavier Menstrual Bleeding
- Lighter Menstrual Bleeding
- Breast Tenderness
If vomiting occurs within one hour of taking either pill, it reduces the effectiveness. Call your doctor right away if this happens
Also, having sex again during the same menstrual cycle is contraindicated with Plan B due to the reduction in efficiency.
So, Plan B is a good Plan A if you have sex less than once a month and can commit to never having more than that, aren’t too worried about the failure rate of your birth control, and don’t mind spending a few days sick in bed after each time you have sex.
11% Failure rate when used correctly? How to I know it worked?
Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game. The only way to know that the pills worked is that you get your period. This should happen within 1 week of when you regularly expect it. If it’s over a week late, you need to pee on a stick.
Isn’t this going to start a 17-year-old-slut epidemic?
17-year-olds are going to have sex whether you give them birth control or not. There’s no evidence to indicate that the choices made by teenagers in the heat of the moment, in the back of a van, are in any way influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.Which is exactly the reason Meat Loaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Lights has absolutely no references to medical interventions in conception. (Also, “And now I’m praying for the FDA”Â just doesn’t have the same cheese-factor)
If you’re hoping your kid doesn’t have sex, you’re better off having a discussion with them about it than expecting society to stop them for you. And if you don’t want your kid to get (or get anyone else) pregnant, you better discuss birth control options. Babies don’t just magically not happen.
What happens if a guy takes Plan B?
Though Plan B is 100% effective in preventing pregnancies in men, I don’t recommend taking it.
Please note: Regardless of whether the male partner takes Plan B or not, the female partner will still need to take it to avoid pregnancy.
- Effective at preventing pregnancy in an emergency, more effective the sooner it is taken
- Easy to obtain
- Easy to take
- Moderately priced at around $45
- Not as effective as primary forms of birth control
- Time sensitive. First pull must be taken within 72 hours and second pill must be taken 12 hours after the first.
- Effectiveness decreases over the course of the 72 hours, and is useless if taken after 72 hours.
- Does not protect against STDs
- Abstinence is recommended for the remainder of the menstrual cycle
- Side effects may be unpleasant
- Side effect of vomiting may result in the pill not working at all
My conclusion: Plan B is an excellent plan b, but a really shitty plan A. Ideally, you don’t want to have to use it. Realistically, you may have to. In the event that it is necessary, don’t procrastinate!