Method Monday: Emergency Contraception (EC)
In honor of the Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action (coming up this very Wednesday), we’re featuring emergency contraception, a.k.a. EC, for our Method Monday this week! The Back Up Your Birth Control theme this year is EC=BC—an excellent choice given the amount of confusion and misinformation floating around online and in the media RE how EC works. You can learn more about the different EC options on our site, but in a nutshell, the reason you have to take it as soon after the (f)act as possible is because it doesn’t work if you’re pregnant. EC can only prevent a pregnancy from starting; it can’t stop one that already has. And if you accidentally take EC before you know you’re pregnant, it won’t hurt you or the pregnancy. A few more noteworthy tidbits about EC:
- Unlike jumping around, douching with strange substances, or praying he pulled out in time, EC works pretty darn well if taken asap after unprotected sex/condom breakage/etc. Though using an effective method before having sex is still better.
- Plan B One-Step, a popular form of EC, came close to being approved for over-the-counter status—which would’ve meant it would be available on drug store shelves just like Aspirin or condoms—back in December 2011. But the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overruled the FDA’s recommendation, so it’s still behind the counter and prescription-only for anyone under 17.
- Anyone 17 or older has the right to purchase certain forms of EC (namely Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, and Levonorgestrel) without a prescription. This goes for dudes, too. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
- Some forms of EC don’t work as well for women with higher body mass index (BMI). For those women, the ParaGard IUD is probably the best emergency contraceptive option.
- The most effective form of EC (for anyone) is the ParaGard IUD. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of folks don’t know that, and the fact that many health care providers don’t talk about it doesn’t help.
- A higher dose of certain birth control pills after sex works as emergency contraception—though you should consult our article on the Yuzpe method, and/or talk to your health care provider to make sure you get the dosage right.
If your thirst for EC info isn’t quite sated, check out this montage of our Real Stories women talking about their experiences with EC.
And guys know what EC is too! At least our Real Stories guys do:
(Yes, we heard it too—he totally said “my swimmers got past her, her defenders.” Cute or weird? Kinda cute, right?)
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