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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Where To Get The Morning After Pill

posted by on April 2 at 18:00 PM

Brad’s post below is making my head hurt.

Attention anyone who suffered through abstinence-only sex education:
A ton of excellent, easy to use, incredibly effective and relatively cheap birth control options exist.

You should also know that condoms, while excellent for protecting you from disease, are a somewhat crappy form of birth control—at least with typical use of condoms. Use them, but if you’re planning on having sex regularly, you should add on a better method of birth control in addition to condoms.

If your method of birth control fails—ripped condom, slipping when removing a condomed-up penis, no condom, forgot to take the pill, drunken assault and so on—a fantastic new drug exists that can stop you from becoming pregnant, if you use it soon enough. The morning after pill—otherwise known as Plan B or emergency contraception—reduces the chance of getting pregnant by at least 75%, provided it is taken within 48 hours after sex. The sooner after sex you take the pill, the better it works.

It doesn’t work through abortion; rather it can prevent ovulation (the ovary releasing an egg to be fertilized) or implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg. If you are already pregnant, it won’t hurt the embryo or fetus.

The side effects are relatively mild for almost all women, at worst similar to a really bad period.

And in a growing number of states, including Washington, you don’t even need to talk to a doctor first.

In Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington, laws allow women to get Emergency Contraception directly from a pharmacy without first going to a doctor or clinic.

The website can help you find which pharmacies will do just that.

In King County, when in doubt, head for a Safeway.

In Seattle, the Safeways at
85th and 15th NW in Ballard,
22nd Ave E and Madison on Capitol Hill,
U-Village in the U-District,
the corner of California and Admiral Way or 28th ave s and Roxbury in West Seattle,
1st ave w and Republican st in Lower Queen Anne
carry and will give out the emergency contraception.

Expect to pay a little under $50.

I guarantee it’ll work better than a douche of Sprite, or a shot of Mountain Dew.


A friendly cartoon penis tells you how to use a condom properly:

And a pair of cartoon genitals explain how pregancy happens:

Update 2:
Several readers have pointed out:

On August 24, 2006, Plan B was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for nonprescription sale to women and men 18 and older in the United States.

If you don’t live in one of the nine states listed above, per the FDA you should be able to buy Plan B over the counter from some pharmacists. I’m actually curious to hear if men and women in some of the more conservative states have had success doing just that.

You can search for a provider near you that has committed to offering emergency contraception over-the-counter.

If you live in a state resistant to over-the-counter sales, you (men and women) can buy the morning after pill before the morning after, and have it ready just in case…

RSS icon Comments


Good advice!

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 2, 2008 6:24 PM

It's also been OTC in Canada since 2005. If you're ever there having sex, smoking reefer, and/or getting gay married.

Posted by John | April 2, 2008 6:25 PM

It's incredibly rare for the morning after pill to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. If an egg is fertilized the morning after pill prevents implantation at about the same rate as other prescription drugs, particularly anti-inflammatory drugs.

This is a really important distinction. A lot of fundamentalists consider preventing implantation of a fertilized egg as a form of abortion. While it's technically possible for that to happen with the morning after pill (and a lot of other non-birth control related drugs that the fundies never complain about) in reality works almost entirely by preventing conception. There's absolutely no reason why anyone should object to the use of the morning after pill on medical grounds.

Posted by Arthur | April 2, 2008 6:30 PM

Is this the Teenbeat website?????????

Posted by Tyrone | April 2, 2008 7:06 PM

nooooo do not use this pill, it will kill meeeeee

Posted by homonculus spermam | April 2, 2008 7:10 PM

All this because some TV news dude said, and I do quote, "A study said some Florida teens think" a bunch of painfully obvious howlers about sex. They could have at least said how many teens think bleach prevents HIV: was it greater or less than the number of smart ass teens who give bullshit answers to nosy surveys.

The source for the "study" was a pol from the state lege who is trying to get a law passed. Not that Florida politicos make shit up.

The Harvard abstinence group is much more scary, even if Florida does have a high-ish teen pregnancy rate. Anyway, y'all been troll'ed.

Posted by elenchos | April 2, 2008 8:03 PM

They think the egg chooses the sperm? Whoa!

Posted by Soren | April 2, 2008 8:08 PM

It never hurts to brush up on the basics. I love how the penis does a little dance and takes a bow afterwards.

Posted by madamecrow | April 2, 2008 8:14 PM

ok wait - yes DO plug this thing i'm all for it...
but a) it is not "new" it's been available at clinics like planned parenthood since at least when i was in college (1994!!!!)

b)for most women it is like having a bad period? spoken like...someone who hasn't experienced it.
I was violently nauseated for 48 hours and vomited profusely. i was incapacitated - way way worse than a period. i have friends who've had the same experience.

but i guess the idea here is not to scare anyone off it. but then...when i took the thing, i wish i had been a little more prepared. a better description of this thing's like the same amount of hormones you would get in six periods. imagine that ladies. six periods, ALL AT ONCE. (ok, don't know exact amount but you get it)

Posted by onion | April 2, 2008 8:17 PM

While you're right, taking a large dose of hormones soon after sex to prevent pregnancy isn't a new idea, the over-the-counter formulation is new.

The EC one can buy right now also tends to have a much lower rate of side effects than the old "take many standard birth control pills at once" EC plan.

Still, you are right. For some women, a minority it must be said, the side effects can be severe. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Among my friends who have used the newer EC formulations, most--but not all--have had an easy go.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | April 2, 2008 8:28 PM

Maybe I've been lucky, but I've
A) Usually relied on condoms for birth control and
B) Never been pregnant
C) Am poly, so it's not uncommon to have multiple partners

The exception was a brief period early in my marriage where I was on the pill.

Posted by JenK | April 2, 2008 9:26 PM

It's true that EC is most effective the sooner a person takes it after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, however, it is shown to be effective even up to five days after unprotected intercourse (that's about how long sperm can live and hang around, just waiting for that egg!) The effectiveness rates (75-89%)are for use up to three days it does become less effective the longer a person waits to take it.
Also, EC has been around for many years and the dosage has changed. Most women who take it won't experience anything beyond spotting and nausea, and many have no side effects at all.

Posted by beks | April 2, 2008 10:07 PM

I used the morning after pill in the 80's when I was in college (old, huh?). All that estrogen made me very very sick. But, no pregnancy. Thank god.

The new EC is great. No estrogen. No puking. No pregnancy. It should be available with cold medicine in all grocery and drug stores.

Posted by Planned Parent | April 2, 2008 10:40 PM


Condoms have a HUGE spread in efficacy between "ideal" and "typical" use. Only about one in a thousand women using condoms ideally end up pregnant per year of use. With typical use, it's more like 15% that end up pregnant per year. I suspect you're closer to the ideal.

In about 15% of pairings, one or both partners cannot get pregnant--generally due to sterility. Thanks to all the chemicals to which we are exposed, this number is increasing.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | April 3, 2008 12:54 AM

@2 - I kinda think that the gay-married folks aren't very interested in the morning after pill.

Posted by mongrel | April 3, 2008 4:29 AM


Please update this post so people in the 42 states you didn't mention don't think they have to go to the doctor. If you're over 16 years old, you can get it from the pharmacist.

Posted by StotheL | April 3, 2008 5:29 AM

@16: If you live in such a shitty state that you're afraid to get it from your doctor, a medical professional who by ethical code must promise confidentiality, chances are your pharmacist will be an asshole about it too.

Posted by Gloria | April 3, 2008 5:41 AM

Thanks for the post.

"Typical" use has always confused me. From the little I can find on the subject on teh interwebz, typical use means that sometimes they don't use a condom.

Does anyone have a useful reference for how studies on the subject define "typical" use? Or does that remain undefined - and "typical" use is defined as some marginal effect over all people who claim to use condoms as their primary BC, regardless of how they repond to "how well do you use it" questions, while "ideal use" is a subset of the total?

Anyway, condoms are massively effective if you use them well (which involves things like checking regularly to make sure there's no slippage, using lube if necessary, and holding the base of the condom to the penis after ejaculation and during withdrawal). But that aside, EC is a great advance, and everyone should know about it, and it's a great option if the condom breaks.

Posted by Uplift | April 3, 2008 8:01 AM

this post is oldest news ever- morning after pill has been available at pharmacies w/o prescription for years! and if you can't find it, taking a handfull of regular old birth control pills is a close approximation...

Posted by natbot | April 3, 2008 8:41 AM

What Arthur said.

But in addition, as JenK wrote, I also used condoms as a primary BC method for years and also never got pregnant. I think having emergency contraception on hand in case of a break is a great idea, but condoms can be used very successfully as Uplift also says.

Natbot...'a handful'? How many is that, exactly? Instead of guessing a dosage, wouldn't it be better to just have the morning-after pill on hand? It ought to be easily available, so that people aren't trying to guess how many regular birth control pills they should try to take.

Posted by Tlazolteotl | April 3, 2008 9:13 AM

The Rite-Aid on Broadway does not offer emergency contraception. Found that out the hard way! And I'll never shop there again.

Posted by Queen Vidor | April 3, 2008 9:17 AM

You can see where emergency contraception is and is not available in Washington State by going here:

Posted by EC is great! | April 3, 2008 10:46 AM

If you don't have to go to a doctor for emergency contraception, why would you have to go to a doctor for any contraception?

Posted by one pill makes you smaller | April 3, 2008 10:52 AM

@21: No, they don't, but the one time I went in there looking for it, they very helpfully pointed me toward the Bartell's right down the street. As far as I know, it is available at all Bartell's.

Posted by Aislinn | April 3, 2008 2:10 PM

"If you are already pregnant, it won’t hurt the embryo or fetus."

This is horrible information. This gives the impression that you can take the pill whenever, and everything will be hunky-dory. No. Women should know that if you take the pill after the fertilized egg has already implanted in your uterus, it will get rid of the egg but it may or may not get rid of the layer of cells (called the syncytiotrophoblast layer) that eats away at your uterine layer to provide nutrients for the developing embryo. If this layer is still there -- even if the egg is no longer there -- it will continue to eat away, and you will bleed to death.

Posted by Caitlin | April 3, 2008 5:06 PM

@17: Doctors aren't available on weekends, or after 5:00 most weekdays. Pharmacists are 24 hours in most places.

Posted by StotheL | April 3, 2008 7:07 PM

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