When Plan A fails, there’s a Plan B (and then some)!

EC Pix

When Plan A fails, there’s a Plan B (and then some)!

What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency Contraception (sometimes called EC or the ‘morning after pill’) is a pill (or two depending on brand – Plan B, Next Choice, Ella) you can take up to 5 days AFTER sex in order to prevent pregnancy if you think your birth control failed, you didn’t use contraception (including condoms), or you were forced to have sex.

ec

How does EC work?

Emergency contraceptive pill(s) prevent pregnancy by delaying or preventing ovulation.  Remember, ovulation is when your ovaries release an egg and is the time you are most likely to get pregnant (usually the time between your periods). No egg = no pregnancy!

There is no evidence to suggest that EC has any effect if an egg has already been fertilized (meaning it does NOT cause an abortion and is NOT the same as the abortion pill).

How well does EC work?

This is a very good question.  Honestly, it depends on the brand of EC.  Here at NGHC we dispense Next Choice.  According to Next Choice, it reduces your risk of pregnancy by 88%.  However, that’s only if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex.  It drops down to 50-60% if taken 5 days after unprotected sex.  That means, the sooner you take EC after unprotected sex, the better it works.  And no emergency contraceptive is as effective as using condoms or birth control correctly!

Where can I get EC?

We are lucky here in the state of California.  EC is available over the counter at any pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription if you are 17 years old or older.  It can range between $35 – $65 but is FREE if you have an active Family Pact card (the green card given to you from most reproductive health clinics).

If you are younger than 17 or you do not have an active Family Pact card, you can always see us here at New Gen (no appointment necessary for EC).

FPACT Card

What else should I know about EC?

EC does NOT protect against STD’s or HIV.  If that is a concern, please talk to us here at New Gen or your doc.  Also, some women may experience nausea, headache, cramping, breast tenderness and/or changes in their menstrual cycle.  But don’t let that scare you away.  Not everyone experiences that and for those that do, it only lasts a day or two.  And honestly, those possible side effects are way easier than dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.

BUT WAIT!!! THERE IS MORE! THERE IS SOMETHING MORE EFFECTIVE THE EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS!!!

The Paragard IUD!!!!

Paragrd

The Paragard IUD (also called the copper IUD) is the MOST effective form of emergency contraception.  It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy within 5 days of unprotected sex.  And better yet, it also acts as birth control that lasts up to 10 years.  Seriously, how cool is that? EC AND birth control in one??? Want to know more about the Paragard? Click here or come into New Gen (p.s. you can get the Paragard IUD even if you don’t need it for EC).

For more information about the various brands of EC, including the Paragard, click here!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

Drunken ‘Yes’……Not So Fast!

My girlfriend told me she wanted to take things slow and not have sex yet (although I really want to have sex with her, I am totally cool with that).  Well last night we were drinking and she wanted to have sex.  I told her that I didn’t think it was a good idea because of what she said before, so I said no and she got mad at me for rejecting her.  Was that the wrong thing to do?

-Anonymous

Short answer: no.  That was exactly the right thing to do!

Using drugs or alcohol can make decisions like that very confusing.  That’s because it changes the way we think! Unfortunately, it causes us to forget or ignore things we know and act in a way we normally don’t.  Drinking may have caused her to forget all of the reasons she wanted to wait in the first place!

It sounds like it would be a really good idea to talk to her again sometime in a calm situation when you are both sober and explain why you said no.  I think, most likely, she will respect your decision; because really, your decision was only to respect her decision!  And that is a great quality in any partner that you should be proud of.  That said, in the moment it probably felt bad for her.  You could try acknowledging her feelings of rejection and reminding her how much you care about her, and that you said no because you care about her.  Also, remind her that sex will be so much better for the both of you if neither of you are impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Finally, I just want to point out a legal issue.  This may not be a concern for you, but for other readers I want to set the record straight.  If someone says YES to sex while drunk, high or otherwise impaired, it DOES NOT COUNT AS “CONSENT”.  That means you can be charged for rape, especially if the person previously said “no”.

I hope that answered your question.  If you want to let us know how your conversation goes, send us another email!

In happiness & health,

Shawna & Christa

Get Involved!!

Happy Monday!!!

Okay, so here goes! Lately I have been getting a lot of questions about how to get involved in the reproductive health care field.  I must say, it’s very exciting to hear that more and more people are becoming interested in reproductive health.

My first bit of advice is to volunteer somewhere.  Volunteering will allow you to determine if the field is right for you.  It’s also important to note that there are a lot of things that someone can do within the field of reproductive health. Volunteering may help you decide which field is right for you.  A few examples include:  policy/advocacy, clinical, research and education.

Policy/Advocacy work:  Working to create or change laws regarding reproductive health.

Clinical work:  A health professional, such as a nurse or doctor, who provides reproductive health services.

Research:  Research is the detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding of a subject.  Research is the foundation of policy and advocacy work.

Education:  Reproductive health education in itself is a large field.  Reproductive health educators work directly with patients in clinics or hospitals (like what our health educators here at New Generation Health Center do).  Reproductive health educators also teach in high schools and colleges or they may develop education materials and curriculum.

Again, these are just a few examples of some of the fields within reproductive health and by no means an exhaustive list.  But like I mentioned earlier, the best way to determine if reproductive health is right for you is to volunteer somewhere.  Not only will you be discovering if it is the right field for you, you will also be helping lots of people along the way.

VOLUNTEERING:

Here are a few places within the California Bay Area that accept volunteers (I have included the organizations mission statement to give you an idea about who they are & what they do).  I should mention that every organization has different requirements and protocols for accepting volunteers – please check their website or contact them directly for specifics!

The Women’s Community Clinic   (this is where I got my start in reproductive health and they are AMAZING):

The mission of the Women’s Community Clinic is to improve the health and well-being of women and girls.

  • We believe preventive, educational care is essential to lifelong health and that all women deserve excellent health care, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • We work hard to ensure that each client feels comfortable and safe using her voice to direct the care she receives.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities!

Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence.  We believe that respect and value for diversity in all aspects of our organization are essential to our well-being.  We believe that reproductive self-determination must be voluntary and preserve the individual’s right to privacy.  We further believe that such self-determination will contribute to an enhancement of the quality of life and strong family relationships.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities!

Lyon-Martin:

Lyon-Martin Health Services is committed to providing quality, compassionate, innovative care.  Our patients are women, lesbians, transgender and genderqueer people.  Our patients are diverse in age, diverse in ethnicity and diverse in social circumstance.  We advocate for the improved health and healthcare of all people, especially the populations we serve.  We understand that we must both provide health care today and shape the health care of tomorrow.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities!

Backline:

Backline promotes unconditional and judgment-free support for the full spectrum of decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.  Through direct service and social change strategies, Backline is building a world where all people can make the reproductive decisions that are best for their lives, without coercion or limitation, and where the dignity of lived experiences is affirmed and honored.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities!

EDUCATION/TRAINING:

In addition to volunteering, these are some awesome ways to learn more about reproductive health.  Again, I’ve included the organization’s mission statement but check out their websites for more specific information.

San Francisco Sex Information:

The mission of the SFSI training is to train people to provide accurate, nonjudgmental sex information to the public.  At the end of training, a trainee should make significant progress in basic sex information, communication and education skills, and personal insight.

Click here for more information!

Coursera: A FREE online course beginning 1/28/2013!

Contraception:  Choices, Culture and Consequences

This course gives a broad overview of contraceptive methods and explores issues that influence contraceptive choices today.

Click here for more information!

 San Francisco City College:

Sexual Health Educator Certificate

The curriculum for the Sexual Health Educator Certificate will train students as paraprofessionals in safe and healthy sexuality including violence prevention and intervention, HIV/STD prevention, and the promotion of mature intimate relationships.

Click here for more information!

Okay, these lists are definitely NOT all the Bay Area has to offer in regards to training and volunteering but it’s a start. Good luck in your search and maybe one day we will colleagues!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Blue Balls: True or False?

Hi Shawna,

My boyfriend and I were having a discussion about “blue balls” and I was wondering if it is a slang term for an actual physical ailment or are its symptoms purely psychological. Thanks!

-Anonymous

BB1

Ah yes! Blue Balls!

Though it doesn’t happen to all men, it is a very real condition that results from a prolonged state of sexual arousal (being turned on for a longer than usual amount of time).  When guys are sexually aroused, blood flows to the penis and testicles causing them to swell (this is what causes an erection).  If he doesn’t ejaculate, there is a buildup of pressure, which can cause discomfort.  The discomfort varies in intensity but is not dangerous.  Ejaculation, whether by sex or masturbation, can relieve the pressure or he can simply wait it out.  The blood will quickly drain, and any discomfort will disappear on its own.  If the erection and/or discomfort lasts longer than 4 hours, he should seek medical attention as this may be a sign of a more serious condition called priapism.

So, if you are messing around with a guy and he tells you he has to have sex/get a blowjob/etc. or he’ll be in major pain, don’t let that pressure you.  If you are not into going any further, he can masturbate or wait it out.  He’ll be fine.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Tonya Chaffee, MD