Study: Plan B not just for the morning after

Recent research suggests that women could use Plan B to protect themselves from pregnancy, not only in the seventy-two hours following unprotected sex, but also when taken before the act as preventative birth control. A survey of fifteen studies, involving 8,400 people, found that only five percent of women taking Plan B around the time that they engaged in sex became pregnant over the course of one year, compared to sixteen percent of women relying on condoms.

Because of the controversy surrounding Plan B becoming available OTC, and its false association with "the abortion pill," it's unlikely that individuals will immediately seize upon this data and promote the medication for non-emergency use. But it's important information for women to have. If you, like me, are opposed to taking daily hormonal contraception, this is another option to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

Commentarium (25 Comments)

Mar 10 11 - 3:22pm

plan b is hormonal if you're opposed to daily hormonal contraception i don't really see the difference. plan b is simply a stronger dose of birth control. and it's also very expensive. $50 for plan b vs. $20 for a pack of some birth control pills. something to think about.

Mar 10 11 - 6:12pm

I totally agree. I took Plan B only once, and the hormones in it practically laid me out flat. I was a mess for days. I would guess that using Plan B occasionally (say, only with intercourse), especially since in my opinion it seems so strong, the effects on the body wouldn't be much different from a daily hormonal pill.

Mar 11 11 - 9:16am

She didn't say she was opposed to hormonal contraception. she said she was opposed to *daily* hormonal contraception. I think she was just suggesting that you could use Plan B as a contraceptive as needed, instead of taking the pill daily (i.e. even when not needed). I think there may be issues with off-label use of the product, but there's nothing wrong with her logic.

Mar 10 11 - 3:34pm

Get an IUD! They're awesome, practically fail proof and last for five years. Plus, no hormones. In my eyes, an IUD is the perfect form of birth control.

Mar 10 11 - 4:11pm

a lot of doctors won't give a woman an IUD unless she's had one child already.

Mar 10 11 - 9:13pm

Then you threaten to sue those doctors for child support should a less-reliable birth control method fail. Nobody, at any (adult) age, will be denied birth control more than once when the "L-word" is mentioned. Works the same for men being denied a vasectomy. Get in their face and tell them it's going to be the hospital's ass on the line when a condom fails, and you'll have your lawyer send over the paperwork to accept the liability for their failure to provide a simple procedure.

The biggest problem with an IUD before a child is that wrenching your cervix open to insert it fucking hurts. But a little bit of pain for 5-10 years of never having to worry about birth control again (and a few percent chance of never having a period again) more than makes up for it.

Mar 11 11 - 10:15am

Wow, that's ridiculous. Your doctor doesn't "owe" you birth control. You have the right to find a new doctor if you don't like the one you have. You do not have the right to bully your doctor into giving you what may not be best for you. I would refuse an IUD to anyone not in a monogamous relationship because of the increased risk of infections. Anyone who has a problem with that is welcome to find a doctor who is more cavalier about the health of their reproductive organs.

Mar 11 11 - 10:59am

Some docs will insert an IUD in a woman who has never had children. Mine will. He says many won't because it's more difficult to do. However, I have never heard of any doctor who would give an IUD to a woman who was not in a monogamous relationship, because of the high risk of infection should you contract an STI.

Mar 11 11 - 12:57pm

Yes. I was simply using the infection risk issue to point out the fallacy of assuming that your doctor is denying you something because he or she is a bad, BAD person and doesn't want you to be happpeeeeeee. Usually there is some sound medical judgment behind such things.

Mar 10 11 - 4:27pm

Not necessarily true - I've never had a kid. Back in the day there were worries that things could go wrong and leave you barren, but technology has caught up.

Mar 10 11 - 5:59pm

the non hormonal iud (copper t) actually lasts for five-ten years. It's what I have & I love it. Plus I'm 24 & childless. If your doctor won't give it to you, it isn't for medical reasons (unless you already have hvp & then your chances of cancer go up) & you should dtmf, as dan savage would say.
The hormonal iud does only last for 5 years, but it is the only proven treatment other than surgery to help woman with the very painful condition of endometriosis.
IUD's are awesome(:

Mar 11 11 - 10:45am

Exactly Rose. If your doctor is refusing to give you an IUD because you're childless, then you have a doctor like Lisa up there who will also deny you an IUD if you're not in a relationship she agrees with. Find a new one who is woman friendly, not just monogamous-woman friendly.

Mar 11 11 - 12:54pm

Clearly, you missed the phrase "because of the increased risk of infections." I work with all my patients, regardless of their relationship status, to find the options that are safest and best for their situation. I treat everyone with respect and I do not pass judgment on anyone's lifestyle. In fact, I have been in an open relationship myself. However, I will not give a patient something which poses a very real risk of harm to her simply because she demands it.

Mar 11 11 - 11:04am

I am going to reiterate the point made above - doctors do not refuse IUDs to women who aren't in monogamous relationships because of "judgement," they do it for safety. Having multiple sexual partners increases your risk of contracting an STI. Should you contract an STI when you have an IUD, you have a much higher risk of developing a serious infection that can risk your fertility, your health, and your life.
However, if your doctor's only reason for denying you is the fact that you've never had a child, I'd suggest shopping around, because there are many who don't see a problem with this. There is a slightly higher chance that you will expel the IUD if you have never had children, but most of the docs I have had saw this as a minimal risk compared to the benefits.

Mar 11 11 - 1:37pm

That is why doctors present the risks to their patients and let their patients choose if they want to run that risk or not. Would you deny a prescription for birth control pills to a smoker because smoking increases the risk of blood clots when on BCP?

Mar 28 11 - 11:04pm
women's health NP

It is absolutely untrue that if you have increased chance of infection if you contract an STI with an IUD in place. This is shown to be true in many studies. The only risk is with having an IUD placed when you currently have an STI (chlamydia or gonorrhea specifically), so you just get tested that day to make sure. Many clinicians (like me) will give you an IUD even if you are not in a monogamous relationship. Please try to find a reproductive health specialist who is actually current with the research if you are considering this option.

Mar 11 11 - 12:45pm

I've learned more from this comments thread than I have from my last several visits to the free clinic.

Mar 11 11 - 8:14pm

Another option would be Implanon. It's a device they stick in your ARM, so no chance of dislodging or a tear. It is hormonal but it prevents pregnancy for 3 years. I personally love it, my periods are lighter, and like the author I am horrible at taking the pill daily. And the procedure is quick and didn't hurt much at all.

Mar 14 11 - 7:07pm

I have the hormonal IUD and am extraordinarily pleased. No periods & no worries. The slight pain it involves at insertion is well worth the 5 years of benefits! (Not to mention that you experience a similar level of pain on a monthly basis with a period...)

Mar 17 11 - 10:57pm
Elizabeth L

slight?! No way, don't anybody believe it's "slight" pain! It fucking hurt like hell. I had a meditation specialist in the room and everything. But I love my IUD and I would recommend it to other women, too. I'm one of the ones who's never had a kid. Another great thing about the IUD is that there are less hormones in my pee (as opposed to the daily pill) and so I am polluting the environment less. Hooray!

Mar 15 11 - 11:27am

I got an IUD a couple of years ago because I am a carrier of a gene that predisposes people to blood clots and hormonal birth control is a no-no in that case, and my doctor refused up and down to even take the chance even though I'd never had any clots. I figured I would just play it safe with my boyfriend... Until I got pregnant. After I terminated, my new doctor agreed to give me the non-hormonal kind and then I had to go three rounds with the insurance company because the rep for my job's insurance plan had overlooked IUDs as a viable means of BC. After all of THAT I came up against a nurse who didn't want to let me proceed because even though I'd had a gyn exam 6 months earlier, it hadn't been in the same calendar year. I shouted, a lot. The doctor agreed to do the procedure that day. I'm really happy I insisted, aggressively, because aside from 1-2 days per month for the first year where I had some of the worst cramps known to man, I dot have the raging mood swings I'd always had on the pill and the ring, and I don't have to think about taking something at the exact same time everyday or refilling a prescription. And my insurance did end up coverig it. Be monogamous, be safe, be your own advocate. It's totally worth it.

Mar 17 11 - 7:00pm

Plan B might be effective but it can really mess up your cycle. It can delay your period by a week or two, so taking it on a regular basis as birth control could end up leading to extra stress caused by delayed periods.

It's defintely not a great option for regular birth control.

Mar 18 11 - 12:09am
no thanks

I had one experience with Plan B and let's just say it failed me miserably. No thanks.

Mar 18 11 - 4:51am

Everyone I've ever known who has taken Plan B told me that it makes them vomit.

Why would you want to risk feeling like shit after a good time?

Jun 25 11 - 2:54am

Any data or into on using plan b the same way some women use norethindrone - to skip or delay your period?