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The 411 On The Morning After Pill

Let's talk about Plan B.

Women's Health

We've all been there.

A tantalizing night of passion where you're riding your partner in wild abandon and both of you are at the edge of reaching that coveted climax. He gets distracted and guides your movements frantically as you ride your orgasm out, in effort to draw out his. And suddenly the pull out method for withdrawal becomes the Chris Brown, he can leave it in.

OK, OK, well maybe, it's just me. But I have no doubt that as a sexually active woman, you've encountered one or two scares during your lovemaking sessions. And it doesn't even have to be a shotty pseudo-contraceptive method gone wrong. It could be meds that you're taking that make your birth control less effective, you could have forgotten to take your pill altogether, the condom could have broken, or if your man has some of that black magic that allows him to ejaculate and keep going, you might be in need of a back up for the backup.

In any case, this is where Plan B comes in, more commonly known as the "morning after pill". The morning after pill is a single-dose emergency contraceptive, or EC, that women can use in instances where we need some last-minute protection to lessen the likelihood of conception after sex.

Here are a few other things you should know about the emergency contraceptive, morning after pill.

How The Pill Works

Pregnancy is never instant. It can be days (as many as five) between unprotected sex and actual conception as the sperm navigates through the reproductive system to get to an egg. Morning after pills delay that process, thereby preventing the union from ever happening. That's why the nature of the Plan B pill is most effective the soonest you can take one. Of note, the morning after pill is not an abortion pill so if you happen to take one and conception has already taken place, it won't harm your pregnancy.

Ulipristal Acetate vs. Levonorgestrel

Morning after pills can be found in a couple different forms. The most effective kind of morning after pill contains ulipristal acetate and is called Ella. Although not as easily accessible as other ECs available on the market, it is the most effective. Women can take Ella up to five days after having unprotected sex, with efficacy as strong on day 5, as it is on day 1. The catch is that you typically need a prescription in order to use this form of emergency contraceptive.

The most commonly and widely used morning after pill contains levonorgestrel and can be found over-the-counter in most drugstores (even Walmart and Target), with no prescription or consultation needed. These brands include Plan B One-Step and Take Action Emergency Contraceptive. These pills must be taken within three days in order to be effective, and unlike Ella, the sooner you take this pill, the better.

The Cost

The cost for a single-dose tablet of a morning after pill can range between $35-$50, sometimes more, depending on the kind of EC you go for. In times where it's been an emergency, I've personally gravitated towards OTC options, first Plan B One-Step, and then Take Action. Plan B is about $45, and Take Action is slightly lower at $35. With the same level of effectiveness, it was a no-brainer to go with the lower cost option. Next Choice One Dose lands at the lower end of that price range as well.

Because Ella needs a prescription, it might not be the best option out there for most women, especially when the name of the game calls for immediate action. Even still, if that's the route you go, Ella can amount to $50 or higher, not including overnight delivery costs that might be necessary for securing the pill.

As a just-in-case method to have on hand in your medicine cabinet, a generic brand called AfterPill can be purchased online for $20, not including shipping. That way if an accident happens and your budget is a little tight, you don't have to worry about how you will obtain an EC to prevent pregnancy.

Morning after pills might also be available at Planned Parenthood health centers and/or family planning clinics located near you.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

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I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

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It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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