The Student News Site of Dillard University



    Morning After….Practical Prevention?

        There are several guidelines and regulations for obtaining the emergency birth control plan B -more commonly known as the “morning-after” pill- but for the most part college students have access to this preventive measure and need information on the purpose and the power of the pill. Though conveniently sold without a prescription, every pharmacy does not agree with the FDA’s approval of over-the-counter plan B sales. 

    Chandra Green, head pharmacist at the Walgreen’s located at the corner of Elysian Fields Ave. and Robert E. Lee St., said Walgreen’s sells plan B behind the counter and by prescription only, regardless of age.  Green showed little concern about risks involving the “morning-after” pill.  “It’s [plan B] as safe as taking oral contraceptives; of course it’s a higher dose,” said Green.  “College students come in once every three months and we really don’t dispense it that often.”  Green also said she knew no long term effects of repeated usage, but assumes it would change the reproductive area of the body in some way.  Customers are not limited to a number to repeat usage of the pill and can gain access as long as they have a prescription and identification.

    Although Walgreen’s has little need to reorder plan B, it is in high demand on local college campuses.  In fact, Nurse Adriene Gill, head of health services at Dillard University, said there have been occasions when young women would call at night when health services were closed.  Dillard last distributed the “morning-after” pill in 2004 through The Family Planning Grant issued by the state of Louisiana.  “The grant would issue 20 “morning-after” pills a month, and every month I would run out, so on average more than 20 girls would come for the pill every month.” said Gill.

    In order for women to get plan B from Gill, they had to fully understand all options such as birth control pills for the future, safe places for pregnancy termination and adoption services for a continued pregnancy. “I don’t want them [students] thumbing through yellow pages for a service I can provide,” said Gill. Gill only gave plan B to Dillard students with proof of identification and male partners were allowed to accompany the female student but not obtain the pill themselves.  Also, Gill said ladies have to test negative on a pregnancy test before receiving the pill.           

    According to the USFDA, emergency contraception’s purpose is to hinder pregnancy.  It should be used in the event of failed contraceptives or unprotected sex and should not be used on a routine basis.  The hormones in plan B block the egg from proceeding to the ovary.  It can also prevent the joining of the sperm and egg.  If the sperm and egg do join, the “morning-after” pill can keep the fertilized egg from connecting to the womb.

    Consequently, to ensure the proper use of plan B and in order to carefully avert pregnancy, only women 18 and older can attain the pill without a prescription.  Princeton University studies show that Duramed, an extension of Barr Pharmaceuticals, said that in-depth labeling and packaging supplement all shipments of plan B to inform the user and monitor the distribution process.  Plan B is only sold to licensed drug wholesalers, stores providing pharmacy services and health facilities with licensed physicians.  Identification is required from minors and adults with or with out prescriptions, so upon acquiring this medication, all paper work, proof of insurance and personal information must be verified.

                Although the pharmacist can provide the pill, they are not required to explain how it is used.  The labeling of the “morning-after” pill instructs users to take the first dose within 72 hours after intercourse and a second dose 12 hours later.  The American College of Gynecologists stated that “The first dose of pills must be taken by mouth as soon as possible, but no later than five days (120 hours) after having unprotected sex.”

    The quicker the pill is taken, the higher the success rate.  Making a doctor’s appointment and racing to a pharmacy wastes time and decreases effectiveness.  That is why the ACOG recommends that women 18 and older take advantage of plan B’s over-the-counter attainability and purchase emergency contraceptives before they need it, in order to have immediate use.

    Unfortunately, the “morning-after” pill has some side effects on menstrual cycles.  The USFDA released information stating that emergency contraception may alter the duration of a cycle by as much as a week earlier or later than normal.  Some women were nauseated, dizzy, prone to headaches, tired and had stomach pain or abnormal bleeding.  Side effects should cease within two days and periods should return to normal the next month.

                Though recent technologies have created a revolutionary pill that may make unplanned pregnancy a dismal dot of the past, it is not a form of abortion and does not protect women from AIDS, HIV and other STDs.  The safest way to prevent both pregnancy and infection is to practice abstinence or use birth control, condoms and other types of contraceptives.  Sexually active women should buy plan B ahead of time to improve chances of prevention, because one never knows what life holds for the morning after.








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    Morning After….Practical Prevention?