Though not one of the most advertised services of Quinnipiac’s Health Services Center, Plan B is available for students to purchase for $15, which is about half the price of purchasing it at a pharmacy or Planned Parenthood. Because the overhead cost is covered by the Health Services fee that student’s pay, Plan B can be offered close to it’s wholesale price.
According to Director of Student Health Services Dr. Phillip Brewer, price isn’t the only reason to obtain the pill from Health Services.
“We don’t want women on campus to have to run off to pharmacies to buy Plan B because we don’t want there to be any delay,” said Brewer. “If there’s a freshman that doesn’t have a car and it’s Saturday night, what are they going to do?”
According to Dr. Brewer, Health Services has offered Plan B since it first became available, even before it was offered as an over the counter drug in 2009. Prior to that date, women were required to see a doctor, get a prescription and then go to the pharmacy to buy it.
This emergency contraception will prevent pregnancy up to three days after having unprotected sex. But, it won’t work if someone is already pregnant.
It contains a high dose of the hormones found in birth control pills, such as progestin levonorgestrel. Taking it is similar to taking four birth control pills at the same time. Ultimately, it stops the ovulation process, thickens the makeup of a woman’s cervix and blocks the sperm from joining with an egg to prevent the implantation process.
A woman can become pregnant from unprotected sex that takes place any time from five days before ovulation to one day afterwards, according to Planned Parenthood’s website. Also, sperm can remain in the female reproductive tract for up to five days, having the ability to be fertilized once ovulation begins.
Therefore, the sooner the pill is taken, the better. And according to Brewer, every hour matters.
“If you have a thousand women taking Plan B, the difference between them taking it within two hours and taking it on the second day is the difference between 70 or 80 pregnancies,” he said.
If the pill is taken within a 24 hours after unprotected sex, it is about 95 percent effective. That number reduces to 89 percent if taken on the third day.
Some side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches and irregular bleeding. If the user doesn’t get their period at least three weeks after taking Plan B, she is advised to take a pregnancy test.
Students can purchase Plan B at Health Services any time. It is treated like any other appointment. However, girls must take a pregnancy test before they receive the pill. They are then prescribed anti-nausea medicine and scheduled an appointment with a gynecologist, especially if they are not already on birth control, as to prevent them from having to take Plan B again.
“My friend had unprotected sex and wasn’t on birth control. But after she went to Health Services to take Plan B she realized she needed to be,” said sophomore Lindsey Surette.
Although there are no known long-term effects from taking Plan B more than once, it is strongly advised to use it only for emergencies and not as a form of birth control, as it isn’t nearly as effective in preventing pregnancy.
MacKenzie Malone contributed to this story.