Emergency Contraception

Plan A or Plan B?

Many of us have plans for the events in our lives. And these plans may not always go as we think they may. That is why a “Plan B” is needed in many cases. Have you ever experienced a need to change your original plans?

For those of you who have not planned on having intercourse until after you are married, but end up in a date rape situation, or for those who are sexually active and using protection, but the protection fails; there is a “Plan B” that can help prevent the derailment of your life as you have planned it.

Plan B is a new kind of emergency contraception (EC). Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way for women to prevent pregnancy after an unprotected event. This pill is also known as “the morning after pill”. Plan B and other EC such as Preven are NOT abortifacients. RU486 is an abortifacient and is not used as EC.

Emergency contraception can contribute significantly to reducing the unacceptably high number of unintended pregnancies. According to the Allen Guttmacher Institute, there are over 3 million unintended pregnancies every year in the United States. Half of these pregnancies end in abortion. The need to decrease the use of this option is clear.

Plan B is the first Progestin-only EC to be approved by the United States FDA. It is safe for most women and is highly effective. Each Plan B packet includes two 0.75mg levonorgestrel (synthetic Progestin). The first tablet should be taken as soon as possible within the first 72 hours (3 days) after an unprotected event. If taken within the first 24 hours it can prevent a pregnancy by 95%, and if taken after the first 24 hours but within 72 hours it decreases the risk of pregnancy by 89%. This pill has less side effects that other EC that has been used in the past, and is easier to administer.

When is Plan B appropriate?

No contraceptive method is 100% effective, even with perfect use. Plan B provides an important safety net when:

  1. A condom breaks, or diaphragm slips
  2. No contraception is used
  3. A woman misses 2 or more birth control pills in a row or starts a pack 2 or more days late.
  4. A woman is more than 2 weeks late for a contraceptive injection such as Depo.
  5. Intercourse occurs unexpectedly and without contraceptive protection.
  6. A woman is raped.

Plan B is not a substitute for regular contraceptive use. It is less effective than regular contraception (when used correctly) and does not provide protection against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It should only be used in emergency situations as a “second chance” contraception.

If you have questions about Plan B, or are in need of a “Plan B”, call the UIS Campus Health Service and we will work you in and determine if Plan B will be a viable option for you. The cost for students is $12.00, which is at least half the cost you would pay at the pharmacy.

Abstinence is the best protection against unwanted pregnancy and STIs. That should be your Plan A, and if you run into a situation where you need a Plan B, call the UIS Health Service at 206-6676.