This is going to cause a stir:
Pediatricians treating teenaged girls should consider writing just-in-case prescriptions for the morning-after pill, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said on Monday.
NBC News reports:
It’s the second recommendation in a week from a major doctor’s group that would make contraception more widely available to women. Last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended making all birth control pills available over the counter.
While the ACOG recommendations refer to all oral contraceptive pills, the AAP’s focus is on emergency contraceptive pills, such as “Plan B.” This pill’s history is described at WebMD:
In 1999, the FDA approved Plan B. It is a two-dose regimen: you take two pills 12 hours apart. Each pill contains 0.75 milligrams of the progestin levonorgestrel.
This is a synthetic hormone that has been used in birth control pills for more than 35 years. But the levels of progestin in Plan B (and Plan B One-Step) are higher than those in birth control pills.
In 2009, the FDA approved Plan B One-Step. It is a one-dose regimen: you take one pill. The pill contains 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel. Research has shown that taking Plan B One-Step up to 72 hours after unprotected sex works just as well as Plan B. And it doesn’t cause increased side effects. So Plan B One-Step is replacing Plan B, although it may still be available in some pharmacies and health centers until supplies run out.
Beginning in 2009, Plan B and Plan B One-Step became available without a prescription to women aged 17 and older. But you must show proof of age. They are available by prescription to women younger than age 17.
Plan B works primarily by blocking or delaying the release of an ovum (egg) from the ovary. It may even block fertilization by a sperm. But, according to information at the Mayo Clinic:
[R]ecent evidence strongly suggests that Plan B One-Step and Next Choice do not inhibit implantation.
And they make this point clearly:
Keep in mind that the morning-after pill isn’t the same as mifepristone (Mifeprex), also known as RU-486 or the abortion pill. Mifeprex terminates an established pregnancy — one in which the fertilized egg has attached to the uterine wall and has already begun to develop.
So, emergency contraception in the form of Plan B does NOT cause abortions. It prevents fertilization of an ovum by a sperm. It is very effective when used within 72 hours of intercourse (89%) and more effective when used within 24 hours (95%). Like any contraceptive plan, it is NOT 100% effective and should not replace other, very effective forms of contraception.
Sex (and it’s drastic consequences for teens in our society) can be a difficult and awkward subject for parents to discuss with children. The fact that many pediatricians discuss sexual activity at most teenage well visits (confidentially, with parents out of the exam room) does not let parents off the hook! The best prevention of all is good, honest, and respectful communication between parent and child. Without that, expect Trouble (with a capital T).
AAP policy statement on emergency contraception here.
NBC News article here.
WebMD info here.
Mayo Clinic info here.