8 Surprising Facts About the Morning After Pill

by Alisha Bridges Patient Advocate

There has been some controversy around emergency contraception (EC), better known as the "Morning After Pill", despite the fact that nearly 5.8 million women have used the drug at least once in their lives. I talked to my local pharmacist to uncover some facts on EC that may surprise you.

Some pharmacists may refuse to provide you with emergency contraception

According to Ira Katz, owner and Pharmacist of Little 5 Points Pharmacy in Atlanta GA, there are some pharmacists who will refuse to sell Plan B due to religious beliefs, although most are providing it. I recommend you call ahead to ensure the store near you carries the pill. Find a location near you that sells EC.

If you live in one of these states, you may have trouble accessing it

According to the National Conference of State Legislation (NCSL), there are currently 6 states which can refuse to distribute emergency contraception under the conscience clause, “…which gives the pharmacist the right to refuse certain services based on a violation of personal beliefs of values.” These states include Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota.

How Plan B became more accessible

Legislation for Plan B has changed over the years. The drug was first approved in 1999 and could only be prescribed. Less than 10 years later the drug became available without a prescription for women 18 and up. A few years ago Plan B became available for ladies 17 and older. Now, according to the NCSL, Plan B is available without prescription for “all women of childbearing age.” The average age for a girl to start her menstrual cycle is 12 years old.

Colleges are making it convenient to access emergency contraception

There are currently colleges which provide the Morning After pill in a vending machine for students on campus. These schools include University of California Santa-Barbara, and Dartmouth University.

There are different, more effective kinds of emergency contraception

There are two types of emergency contraception which are Plan B and Ella. Plan B does not require a prescription, but Ella must be prescribed by a doctor. Ella can be taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse, while Plan B has to be taken within 72 hours to be effective. In regards to Plan B Katz advises, “…generally speaking this product is best taken within 2-3 days of either unprotected sex or an accident…"

How do emergeny contraceptives work?

Plan B contains the same hormone as a standard birth control pill - however it contains "a higher dose… Well before we had [EC], we used to prescribe birth control pills… instructing patients to double the dose and repeat it again within 48-72 hours and that would do the same job as what [EC] this does now,” says Katz. According to Princeton.edu there are several birth controls pills which can be used as EC in dosages of 4-6 pills depending on the brand.

It may not be as effective if you weigh a certain amount

Unfortunately the pill may not be as effective for women with a body mass index of 26. Body mass differs for everyone and depends on height in conjunction with weight. A taller person who weighs more can have the same BMI as a shorter person who weighs less. According to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute a BMI over 25 and obese is more than 30. There are other options for women who have more to love which include using an IUD.

For more information...

With any drug you should consult your physician or pharmacist before deciding to take any medicine to make sure it’s right for you. For more information on emergency contraception check out Five Things to Know about EC or Ten Myths about EC.

Alisha Bridges
Meet Our Writer
Alisha Bridges

Alisha Bridges has dealt with psoriasis since 7 years old after a bad case of chicken pox triggered her disease to spread on over 90% of her body. For years she hid in shame afraid of what people would think of such a visible disease. She has suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks due to psoriasis. Years ago Alisha wrote a letter entitled “My Suicide Letter.” The letter was not about actually killing herself but killing parts of her like low self-esteem, fear, and shame so she could truly live to her fullest potential. This proclamation catapulted her into psoriasis and patient advocacy. Following this letter she created a blog entitled Being Me In My Own Skin where she gives intimate details of what it’s like to live with psoriasis. Alisha is a community ambassador for the National Psoriasis Foundation and has served her community in countless ways to help give a better understanding of what’s it’s like to live with psoriasis. Her life motto is the following: “My purpose is to change the hearts of people by creating empathy and compassion for those the least understood through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and dermatology.” Alisha is also a Social Ambassador for the HealthCentral Skin Health Facebook page.