When it comes to unprotected sex, or contraception failure such as a condom breaking or failure to take birth control, the pill Plan B One Step is just that—a plan b in one step. In 2006, the FDA approved this emergency contraception to be sold over-the-counter to customers 18 and over with a valid ID (FDA). Plan B (also known as the morning after pill), is an effective way to prevent pregnancy when all else fails.
Plan B has the same drug found in most birth controls, levonorgestrel, which can alter cervical mucus and the uterine lining. This makes it harder for sperm to travel into the uterus, and harder for it to attach to a fertilized egg. The pill should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or contraception failure, but can still be effective up to 72 hours (3 days) after. However, the sooner Plan B is taken, the more effective it will be at preventing pregnancy. It should not be used on a regular basis or in place of a routine birth control pill. Plan B also does not protect from STD’s, STI’s or HIV and AIDS. Plan B is easy protection and only one pill, but remember possible side effects are: nausea, dizziness, changes in periods, abdominal pain, head ache, tenderness in breasts, and fatigue. If the pill is taken and vomiting occurs within or up to two hours after, the pill may not have done its job. (Plan B)
For students at VCU, Plan B is easy to get and is relatively inexpensive. If you go to a drug store to purchase Plan B, it costs $50.00 or more. However through VCU, it is only $25.00—all you need is proof of your age. To show collegiettes how accessible this option is, I went and purchased the infamous pill myself. One myth I debunked was that the Wellness Center does not actually sell the pill. The Wellness Center only provides the proof of age slip you need to purchase it. After that, students have to go to the Student Health Services office to get the prescription.
When I arrived at the Student Health Services, showed my ID and pulled out cash, I was told that I had to pay on my card. I asked the same questions you probably have: “Will my parents know?” and “Will it show up on my credit card as me purchasing Plan B?” The answer is no. No one will know you purchased it unless you tell them, it won’t show up on medical records and the name “Plan B” or anything along the lines of “Emergency Contraception” will not show up on your card transactions, according to the Student Medical Center.
I returned to my dorm to put the money on my RamBucks card, headed back to the Health Services office, and—just my luck—the pharmacist was on his lunch break. I headed to my 2:00 p.m. class, and returned just after 3:00 p.m. I went to the window, the receptionist checked my ID, verified it and signed the proof of age slip. I paid, walked one window over and picked up the prescription. Aside from the learning experience that you cannot use cash at Student Health Services and avoiding the pharmacist’s lunch break, getting the prescription was easy. Both the Well and Student Health Services were very helpful and understanding. No questions were asked and no judgment was passed.
Students I sat down with and asked about the “Morning After” pill told me that after having unprotected sex or failed contraception during sex, they took the pill and it worked for them. They did not become pregnant, but they did experience side effects, such as changes in their next period and headache. But they all agreed they’d take it again if necessary, and they’d rather experience a little headache or abnormal period than an unplanned pregnancy. With the Wellness Center and Student Health Services selling Plan B at such a discounted rate, this option is much more attainable for college women on campus.