Ortiz: Emergency contraceptives are noninclusive

Kenia Ortiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

According to a National Survey of Family Growth study regarding the use of contraceptives among women, from 5,554 respondents between 2015 and 2017, nearly 65% of women between the ages of 15-49 reported using some sort of contraception in the month that they were interviewed.
 
However, when contraceptives such as birth control pills or condoms don’t work, some women and their partners turn to emergency contraceptives.
 
A popular emergency contraceptive is the Plan B morning-after pill (levonorgestrel). A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey showed that from 2006 to 2010, 5.8 million women used emergency contraceptive pills such as Plan B.
 
A European study shows that the Plan B pill loses its efficiency in women weighing around 165 pounds and does not work at all in women weighing 175 pounds or more.
 
This is extremely dangerous because according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight for a woman in the United States is 166.2 pounds. This leaves a large number of women no choice but to risk the effectiveness of the over-the-counter emergency contraception.
 

“From what I’ve read about birth control and its effectiveness on women over 165 pounds, it’s really concerning,” said Haneen Badri, a fourth-year student at Colorado State University. “Most average women in today’s society do not have access to a reliable form of birth control.”

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We can’t pride ourselves on our medical advancements if the general population cannot use what is one of the few options available to us.” -Haneen Badri, CSU student

Anna Glasier, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, recommends “the copper intrauterine device (IUD) as a first line of defense. It offers a 95% success rate as emergency contraception, making it the most effective option by far.”

However, in the United States, an IUD is much more expensive than the morning-after pill.

“A dose increase of levonorgestrel is not proven to be a solution for (Plan B inefficiency on women over 165 pounds),” said Karina Gajek, a spokeswoman for HRA Pharma. “However, women with higher weight are advised to discuss alternative emergency contraceptive options with their physician: IUD or alternative oral emergency contraceptive.”

IUDs, however, can be accompanied by side affects, such as cramping or aching after the IUD is put in, spotting, irregular periods and heavier flow accompanied by worse menstrual cramps. Also, IUDs do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases, so a second method would have to be used as well.

There is another emergency contraceptive pill called ella, which became available in the United States in 2010 but hasn’t gotten as much attention as Plan B.

Rather than working as a synthetic progesterone, also called progestin, the way that hormonal birth control and levonorgestrel do, ella acts as an anti-progestin. Basically, ella “delays ovulation by rendering the progesterone receptor inert rather than allowing it to bind with progestin.”

The idea that there’s accessibility to functional, inclusive contraceptives for the average woman to take is a joke. 

“We can’t pride ourselves on our medical advancements if the general population cannot use what is one of the few options available to us,” Badri said. “It’s also very disappointing and deceiving that this information isn’t public knowledge.”

Kenia Ortiz can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Kenia_Ortiz_.