Rain, rain go away?
Raindrops keep falling on my head?
Save it for a rainy day?
For as long as I can remember — from early childhood — I’ve been advised to prepare for the inevitable ‘rain’ that falls into each of our lives. “Always have some savings in your bank account.” “Don’t get too low on life’s necessities.” I took that to mean milk and toilet paper. And here’s a more general one, “Always have a plan B.”
So much talk about preparing for life’s little troubles. But here’s the thing — at no time during my fertile years, from my teens until my hysterectomy last year — not even once did anyone suggest I have a plan for backing up my birth control.
That’s kind of crazy when you consider that, from first period to menopause, most women in the U.S. spend 30 years of our lives trying not to get pregnant. Sure, we have more contraceptive options now than at any point in modern history, but the possibility of a birth control fail is still very real. Whether it’s an error on the part of the user or of the method itself — it happens.
Luckily for today’s women, there’s an easy, safe, affordable option for those times when our birth control use is less than perfect. Emergency contraception, known by the brand name Plan B®, is now widely available in the U.S. (It’s been available in Europe for quite some time, but as we’ve seen Europeans have a different approach to sexuality.)
Here’s the scoop on Plan B®:
- It prevents pregnancy by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary, keeping the sperm from meeting the egg, and/or keeping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
- It can prevent pregnancy for up to five days after unprotected sex.
- It reduces a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant by 85 to 92 percent, depending on how soon it’s taken.
- It’s available at the pharmacy counter without a prescription for people age 17 and over.
- All of Maine’s family planning clinics carry EC and can prescribe it for all ages.
We encourage our patients to keep some emergency contraception on hand, just in case. After all, most of use don’t wait until we have a headache to buy pain reliever. We’ve learned to plan ahead for those “rainy day” situations in our lives.