Birth control breakthrough: the morning-after pill may be worth taking the night before. A new report from the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, suggests that the one-time hormone pill is safe and effective at preventing pregnancies when taken just before sex. While it's not as sure-fire as a once-daily pill or patch, it was found to be 11 percent more effective than condoms at preventing pregnancy over a one-year period.
The morning-after pill, sold as Plan B One-Step or First Choice, is not abortive but preventative like daily birth control pills. It contains a high dose of levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone that stops ovulation. Technically, the FDA approved pill is designed to be taken one time within 72 hours after sex. But the report, which looked at 15 studies of over 8,400 women, focuses on the off-label use of the pill. Most women in the studies split the pill in half and took it around the time they were planning to be intimate. Twenty-two percent experienced irregular bleeding, a side effect most subjects didn't seem to mind.
What this could mean is more choices in birth control for women. For those who don't want to take a pill everyday, but want protect against the chance of a condom breaking, the Plan B could become Plan A. But doctors stress more long-term research needs to be done. Considering much smaller daily doses of hormones put some women at risk for blood clots, the morning-after pill comes with risks. But this research suggests it may also come with greater peace of mind.
Who gave you the best birth control advice?
The future of birth control
Birth control as domestic abuse
Plan B to become available to minors?