The Ins and Outs: Plan B should not be plan A when it comes to contraception
There’s nothing quite as nerve wracking as a pregnancy scare, franticly questioning if you might have made a baby during your intense, passion-filled lovemaking last night. Plan A was using a condom, which didn’t happen. That’s why there’s Plan B.
Everyone loves this widely-available little pill that erases all those potential problems you’d have in nine months. But have you ever stopped to consider what damage it might do to a woman’s body?
Lucky for us all, there really aren’t any consequences, at least with moderate to light use. The key is not using an emergency contraceptive in lieu of another method of birth control, according to SF State peer sexual health educator Brianna Williams, 21.
“It’s not the alternative for not having safe sex, but it is a good alternative if something does happen that’s why it’s called emergency contraceptive is because it should be used in case of an emergency.”
Emergency contraceptives are designed to prevent the release of an egg or to keep sperm from meeting with the egg so that a pregnancy that would normally happen, doesn’t, as long as it’s taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex – the sooner, the better, of course.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Plan B reduced the likelihood of pregnancy by 81 to 90 percent, and 5.1 million women aged 15 to 44 reported using an emergency contraceptive at least once between 2006 and 2008.
Although no deaths or serious health complications have ever been directly linked to the use or overuse of emergency contraceptives, Williams says that pumping such an increased dose of specially-formulated hormones into the body designed to prevent a pregnancy isn’t a good decision.
“If you’re having to take it very often that’s not good for your body because you’re just taking in more hormones and more; so if that’s the case and it’s not used as a regular birth control, you should get on regular birth control because that would be the better solution,” Williams said. “It certainly isn’t healthy to keep putting things in your body that shouldn’t normally be there.”
No matter what, she says being on a regular birth control method is better than having to get Plan B in a hurry.
“There’s all kinds of anxiety that goes along with that as well as taking these hormones in at the same time so safer sex or a birth control method are more than a better substitute for taking Plan B five times a month.”
Emergency contraceptives are available at the SF State student health center through the FamilyPACT program for those who qualify, Planned Parenthood and other pharmacies around San Francisco and the Bay Area.
But remember it doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections, that’s what condoms are for. So don’t be a fool, just wrap that tool!