One of the common situations new users to Scarleteen come in with of late is having had penis-in-vagina intercourse using only a condom, worrying about possible pregnancy, and then asking about Plan B.
When condoms are used properly, they are highly effective: around 98% in one year of perfect use. And it’s certainly fine to follow up with Plan B, even with perfect use, if that’s what you want to do, however, it’s not likely the Plan B will have anything to do, since a condom used properly from start to finish, and that doesn’t slip off or break, will have kept semen inside it, leaving no sperm cells available to fertilize an egg in the first place. But, as a habit, using Plan B after condom use as a backup can make you broke mighty fast, and Plan B also isn’t as effective as any other method of hormonal contraception.
Not only are condoms not always used properly — and sometimes, people aren’t sure since they used them before getting any education or information about proper condom use — something that seems to keep happening is folks using only a condom who, after the fact (or maybe even during?) clearly don’t feel safe enough using condoms alone. In other words, the condom didn’t fail, and half the time they don’t think it did either, but they find they just don’t feel secure enough with condoms alone.
Here’s our suggestion: well before engaging in intercourse only using a condom a) think about if you’re really comfortable just using a condom, rather than a condom paired with another method, and/or b) have a talk with the person you’re going to have intercourse with to find out their comfort level. And that’s even when the other person has a penis and can’t themselves become pregnant. We hear nearly as many users freaking out about possible pregnancy — and often driving their partners up a tree in the process — when only having used a condom who were the person wearing the condom.
Talking about sex, including about contraception and other ways of reducing the risks involved in sex truly doesn’t take the magic out of sex that was going to have any kind of magic in the first place, we promise. And even sex that was awesome at the time is rarely worth anyone being scared for weeks afterwards, especially when it was totally avoidable.
Same goes for putting certain kinds of sex on the table while you or a partner take whatever time they need to access the things they need in order for feel comfortable having that sex. Intercourse not only can wait until everyone involved feels as protected as they need to from pregnancy or anything else, it’s usually going to be a lot better for everyone when it does wait until folks have what they need in that regard. :)
Some extra info for you at Scarleteen (apparently brought to you by the letter B!):
It’s been a few months now since Heather posted “Back Up Your Birth Control Backup Day” making it crystal clear that, despite some pretty unethical misinformation given to young people seeking it, emergency contraception in the US is totally legal to sell to people 17+ without prescription.
It was few days later over here in the UK that I read a blog-post from a student in London that she had been refused emergency contraception, but not because of her age:
I went to a Boots pharmacy which said on the door come here for emergency contraception. So, I went in and asked and the woman pharmacist told me that due to her religious beliefs she was unable to serve me the morning after pill.
Which had me asking myself what the law actually is in the UK. Despite not having a uterus of my own, I’ve still bought emergency contraception with a partner and would appreciate knowing. After doing a bit of research, and with some help from the wonderful Dr. Petra Boynton, here’s what I found out…
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
Walgreens, already the largest drug retailing chain in the US, is to expand into the global marketplace with the takeover of Alliance Boots in the UK.
It may have work to do on its reputation among female consumers, however, as it has repeatedly come under fire from US reproductive health activists for not doing more to ensure individual pharmacists abide by federal laws to provide emergency contraception.
At a national level, Walgreens, which has thousands of stores across the US, complies with FDA’s regulations on contraception and other healthcare provisions. But its name has become associated with a disturbing trend among pharmacists who have refused to provide over-the-counter emergency contraception to men buying it for their female partners.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said they had received a number of complaints from men who have had their requests for emergency contraception refused by pharmacists in Walgreens.
The group complained to Walgreens several times in 2010, and received what they described as an “encouraging response” from the parent store, saying they had distributed a bulletin telling all its stores that emergency contraception can be sold to men and that a male customer need not be accompanied by a female customer. But since then, there have been other cases.
Read the rest at The Guardian here.
“Labels inside every box of morning-after pills, drugs widely used to prevent pregnancy after sex, say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman’s uterus. Respected medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said the same thing on their websites.
Such descriptions have become kindling in the fiery debate over abortion and contraception. Based on the belief that a fertilized egg is a person, some religious groups and conservative politicians say disrupting a fertilized egg’s ability to attach to the uterus is abortion, “the moral equivalent of homicide,” as Dr. Donna Harrison, who directs research for the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, put it. Mitt Romney recently called emergency contraceptives “abortive pills.” And two former Republican presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have made similar statements.
But an examination by The New York Times has found that the federally approved labels and medical websites do not reflect what the science shows. Studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, leading scientists say. Rather, the pills delay ovulation, the release of eggs from ovaries that occurs before eggs are fertilized, and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.
It turns out that the politically charged debate over morning-after pills and abortion is probably rooted in outdated or incorrect scientific guesses about how the pills work.”
Read more: Study: Morning-after pills don’t prevent fertilized egg’s implantation - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_20790373/study-morning-after-pills-dont-prevent-fertilized-eggs#ixzz1x1mmg6In
Or, as we explained here a couple years back on our Birth Control Bingo page about EC:
Emergency contraception (EC) is a method of birth control, in that it is a means to prevent pregnancy before it occurs. Plan B can prevent pregnancy primarily, by delaying or inhibiting ovulation and inhibiting fertilization, and that may be the only way it works, as it is the way it has been proven to work in clinical studies. As explained by the ARHP, “although early studies indicated that alterations in the endometrium after treatment with the regimen might impair receptivity to implantation of a fertilized egg, more recent studies have found no such effects on the endometrium. Additional possible mechanisms include interference with corpus luteum function; thickening of the cervical mucus resulting in trapping of sperm; alterations in the tubal transport of sperm, egg, or embryo; and direct inhibition of fertilization. No clinical data exist regarding the last three possibilities.”
Also, reminder about that “morning-after” moniker: emergency contraceptive pills can work for up to 120 hours, or five days after a possible or known pregnancy risk, not just the morning-after. They are most likely to be effective the sooner they are taken, ideally within 24 hours after a risk, but still can help reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy if taken within 120 hours.
The influence of politics on science and women’s health was once again on full display late last year. In December 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius blocked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of Plan B One-Step’s over-the-counter (OTC) status. It would have been the first time emergency contraception (EC) would be available without a prescription for women of all ages. Instead, it was the first time a HHS secretary overrode the FDA’s decision to approve a medication.
While Secretary Sebelius’ decision to intervene and block Plan B One-Step’s OTC status was shocking on several fronts—given the mounds of scientific evidence proving EC as safe and effective for adolescents and this Administration’s pledge to scientific integrity—those of us at the Center for Reproductive Rights saw it as “déjà vu all over again.”
We’ve been battling the FDA’s politicization of EC for over a decade—trying to hold the FDA accountable in federal court for treating EC differently than any other medication.
Read the rest over at RH Reality Check here.