What Teens Need to Know About Plan B
5/1/2013 12:23:00 PM
For years, a teen could go to a Planned Parenthood and obtain birth control without her parents knowing. Although ideally sex should be a conversation parents openly have with their kids, some teens obviously don’t feel okay talking sex with a parent. We must not only discuss protection from STD’s and pregnancy but the emotional, physical and even spiritual aspect of sex. Information on the reality of sex can arm our youth with the ability to make a sound decision whether they choose to abstain or proceed. But that’s just me. The freedom a teen has is not only in having sex but a plan for when things don’t go…as planned.
It’s called Plan B.
In a surprise twist to the decade-plus effort to ease access to morning-after pills, the government is lowering the age limit to 15 for one brand - Plan B One-Step - and will let it be sold over the counter. Some think this is a good move as the U.S. still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among developed countries – even with rates falling lower than previous decades. But there are other issues with why some say this is a good thing. Did you know:
An estimated 10 percent of sexually active teens are victims of sexual assault?
Many teens still have sex without any protection? (That’s a “yes” considering STD info! One in four teenage girls having at least one STD, according to a CDC estimate.)
Nearly half of teens ages 15-19 years report having been sexually active?
Plan B is intended to prevent pregnancy after intercourse – but is not in and of itself a method of “birth control” by any means! So what do we need to know about Plan B? Emergency contraception is most effective if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, but it can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. And some indications for it’s use does include sexual assault, , condom failure, or missed hormonal contraceptives ( i.e. too many missed pills or missed Depo-Provera shot). Other information from Planned Parenthood talks effectiveness and more:
Effectiveness: According to Planned, if taken within the first 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, emergency contraceptive pills are 75-89% effective in reducing the risk of pregnancy.
Advantages: Emergency contraception is a safe form of backup birth control if your birth control fails or if you have unprotected sexual intercourse. It is used after intercourse but before pregnancy has occurred. After use, fertility returns to normal unless a form of birth control is continued.
Disadvantages: Common side effects of emergency contraceptive pills are similar to those of birth control pills. They include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, and menstrual changes. Breast tenderness, fluid retention, and dizziness may also occur. Many of these symptoms may be less severe with progestin-only or intrauterine forms of emergency contraception. Serious risks include heart attack, blood clots, and strokes. Emergency contraceptive pills do not continue to protect against pregnancy during the rest of the cycle. Emergency contraception may not prevent tubal pregnancy. If you experience severe abdominal pain, contact your health care provider immediately. Tubal pregnancy can be life threatening. Please note: Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, nor does it treat existing infections.
Women who should not use emergency contraception: Women who are pregnant, those with undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, and women with an allergy to the product should not use emergency contraceptive pills.
Please inform your teens emergency contraception pills are not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy, even when taken within 72 hours of intercourse. You still have a risk for pregnancy. You may need follow-up care if your normal menstrual cycle does not occur. If there’s no “monthly visitor” within 3 weeks of using emergency contraception or have symptoms of pregnancy, see the doc! I cannot stress to our young people enough Plan B may prevent a baby but that is it!!! Contraceptive pills do not provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases. If no barrier protection is used or breaks, get tested! And be aware symptoms of sexually transmitted infections, such as pain, itching, sores, or discharge. There have been no reports of serious complications among the millions of women who have used the morning-after pill but some may be an earlier or later, heavier or lighter period than usual, breast tenderness, dizziness, or headaches, and nausea or vomiting. If you vomit within two hours of taking the pill(s), it won't be effective and you need to take it again.
That’s a lot for a 15-year -old to comprehend. That’s why even if they can get it, they need to have information beforehand. While abstinence is best to avoid any of these issues, let’s be real. Even the most sanctified teen may decide to indulge in sex. If they do, they need all the facts for the before and after.