Shame, Sex, And Plan B: Dispelling The Myths Of The Morning After Pill

plan b, morning after pill


Jul. 24 2018, Published 1:21 p.m. ET

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This post is sponsored by Plan B One-Step and SheKnows Media.

This is a historic post. On Her Agenda, we’ve never written about sex. We’ve talked about sexism, sexual harassment, but never about the choice to engage in consensual sex and all that comes with it.

Goal-oriented, focused professional women don’t often discuss sexuality, but our sexuality is part of us. As grown women, we know what we want and go after it unapologetically, whether it’s our next promotion, our next salary negotiation, or our next orgasm.

But we don’t go after these things with reckless abandonment. We protect ourselves, we prepare, we plan and use the proper methods and tools to control the outcome as much as possible. When it comes to sex, without protection and without birth control, contracting an STD or becoming pregnant are some of the possible outcomes we are protecting ourselves against.

So, you use condoms because they protect against STDs and becoming pregnant. And one night something odd happens. Fumbling around in the dark, it’s 2am, you’re both sweaty and exhausted and after you both climax, there’s a slip, he shifts the wrong way, and all of a sudden you’re not sure whether or not your life as you know it could have shifted forever.

As a young woman with big career goals, I remember being super paranoid when I first became sexually active. Even if nothing went wrong, I still held my breath sometimes until my next period. And I’m not alone, if you watched the TV show GIRLS, you likely had a good chuckle at the episode when Hannah Googled “what about the stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms?” A lot of the fear and paranoia stems from not knowing. Lack of knowledge and experience naturally can create fear that leads to paranoia. I remember thinking there were so many unknowns that could potentially disrupt my life as I planned it. Every itch down there prompted a Google search…and every late period made me feel sick to my stomach.

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If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, is how the saying goes. But sometimes something beyond your control threatens to take your plan off course. That’s life, right? Another saying that, although it may sound cliché, rings true.

As with some sayings, they sound cliché until they hit home. We create big plans for our lives, and in order to carry out those plans we prepare and equip ourselves with the tools needed in order to achieve those plans. Tools though, can break. You plan for things, but stuff happens. But we’re lucky to exist in a world where a little pill, called Plan B One-Step® (Plan B), can step in when birth control fails.

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Plan B is the perfect option to help you stay on course and stick with the “plan A” that you created for your life. Mistakes happen, birth control can fail but you can still fulfill your ultimate ambitions and start your family on your terms when you are ready, and not because of a mistake. According to the official language, “Plan B One-Step is emergency contraception that helps prevent pregnancy BEFORE it begins. Plan B One-Step should be taken within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex or birth control failure. The sooner it is taken, the better it works. It is a backup method to help prevent pregnancy and isn’t meant to be used as routine contraception. Plan B does NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV.”

I mentioned before the fear that’s created around lack of knowledge and experience. There’s a lot of myths and misinformation around what Plan B does, and doesn’t do, how to get it, and how it works. So I’m sharing below the facts you might not have known about this little but effective pill:

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  • It can be pretty pricey, especially for an unexpected last minute purchase (but worth the peace of mind!) But here’s a fun fact: a $10 coupon and mobile rebate are available on
  • Plan B can be found in the family planning or sexual health sections at all major retailers, including CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and Target.
  • There is no prescription or ID required to purchase and no age restriction.
  • If you can’t find Plan B One-Step in the aisle, you can also ask the pharmacist if they can help you locate it or have any additional boxes behind the counter. This still does not require a prescription or ID.
  • It is not the (or an?) abortion pill. It does not affect an existing pregnancy. The pill essentially helps to stop a pregnancy before it begins. Plan B One-Step is one pill that contains levonorgestrel, the same hormone used in many regular birth control pills, just at a higher, single dose. And, it works in a similar way to help prevent pregnancy. It works mainly by delaying or stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It is possible that Plan B One-Step may also work by helping to prevent fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg).
  • The pill does not affect your future fertility.
  • There can be some side effects, but it’s different for everyone. Some women don’t experience any side effects at all. But some of the known side effects include a period that is lighter, heavier, early or late, nausea, lower abdominal pain/cramps, tiredness, headache, dizziness, breast tenderness or vomiting. More details on that can be found on their website.
  • You should feel empowered not embarrassed purchasing the pill.

More on the last point below…because it’s easier said than done.

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It’s funny, there’s many who say that now, we’re in the era of the woman. The time has come where society is finally listening to us, where women feel empowered to speak up and speak out against injustice and harassment. And yet, I still sometimes hide my tampons and pads on the way to the bathroom (and I bet if men had periods it would be a right, available to everyone, and not just a product women have to purchase ourselves…but that’s another conversation.)

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And when I first needed to purchase Plan B, I felt ashamed. I wanted to hide myself the same way I hide my tampons on the way to the bathroom. But why? Why should a woman ever feel shame for something that, for one, involves two people? Taking control over my body and what happens inside it is never anything to be ashamed of. But as a young woman, walking up and down the aisle, looking for Plan B, I felt like every gaze was a judgement, as if I didn’t plan properly, as if I didn’t use protection at all. When in actuality, I did practice safe sex, but the safety guards failed, not me.

In order to write this, I went to a Rite Aid to purchase a box of Plan B to see if I still felt the shame. But the store was out of Plan B on the shelf, and the pharmacy was closed so I couldn’t ask a pharmacist. It wasn’t until my visit to the third store, that I actually found it, and it was the last one, sitting on the shelf, nestled inside a lock box. I probably should have asked a retail associate at the first Rite Aid, but I didn’t actually think they were storing any extras in the back. The empty shelf indicated to me they simply did not have any more product in stock. So, when I did finally find it, something happened at the register. No one was actually looking at me. The imaginary spotlight was just that, imaginary. The cashier didn’t look at me any differently than if I was getting a box of tampons.

It’s 2018, we don’t need to apologize for being sexual, or feel shame for taking the necessary steps to control what happens to our body and avoid the risk an unintended pregnancy could have on pursuing our “Plan A.”

Learn more about Plan B One-Step® I am being compensated for this partner post by SheKnows on behalf of Foundation Consumer Healthcare.

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