Like it says above, this comic just covers the basics of how emergency contraception pills work (and if you need a refresher, I explained how conception and pregnancy work earlier!). I encourage you to read up more on this method of emergency birth control over at Planned Parenthood!
You can read the full interview with Saundra below!
Interview with Saundra
What made you think you may be at risk of pregnancy (unprotected sex, birth control failure, etc?)
I’ve taken it three times, at an embarrassingly advanced age (probably should have known better). The first/third time it was unprotected, and when I did the math, I realized my birth control was too risky a back-up. The second time was condom failure.
What was your process of getting the pills (Specifically, did you have any drugstore employees refusing to sell it to you)
I went to Planned Parenthood (comparison shopping — luckily, I live near one and I knew they were much cheaper there).
While I never had to deal with drugstore employees being jerks to me, I took up the issue several years ago when Plan B became available over the counter. I was working at an altweekly in Ventura, California, and we printed a handy cut-out sheet of area drugstores that would be stocking Plan B over-the-counter.
I’ve also been sure to know which drugstores I live near that carry it (I’m not saying the 24-hour Walgreens was the ONLY reason I moved to 37th & Belmont a few years back, but it was a plus).
What were the side effects like?
Emotionally draining, but definitely physically draining. I am always much more tired. The first time, I got nauseated for a couple hours, and crampy.
The first time, I got my period a couple days later. This was fine and expected, but it did throw off my cycle considerably. I still have little to no idea what’s going on with it.
But each time I’ve taken EC, I’m genuinely sad and a little depressed. It caused some friction with my partner (in his defense, he’s always extremely grateful when I elect to take EC just to be safe). But for whatever reason, he couldn’t quite understand how carpet-bombing one’s system with extra hormones makes a person a bit more delicate, emotionally. (It was also early in the relationship, which started out rocky. Kind of a double-edged sword: I wasn’t myself, and then I was doubly upset he couldn’t understand where I was coming from. I once sat at work and forwarded him links to forums of women talking about how batshit insane they felt after taking EC. For, like, an hour.)
Communication has improved exponentially with him, and I think we’re just so much kinder to each other in general. Still, It occurs to me that if I ever take EC again, I would ask for him to give me a couple days by myself, just to avoid conflict. I’m only half-serious about that, but it’s tempting.
To illustrate the hormonal blues: the last time I took EC was the weekend the new Arrested Development episodes came out. There were probably other external issues stressing me out, on the periphery, but I remember sitting in my apartment on a beautiful warm Sunday and just feeling down and in a funk. And I thought, “Not even new, long-awaited episodes of one of my all-time favorite shows can save me? What is WRONG with me!?”
When I remembered I’d taken Next Choice the day before, I felt relieved. Much in the way I’ll sometimes find myself feeling sad and reflective, then get my period soon after, and think, “Oh, thank God! Something to explain feelings!”
How did you feel about the experience once the side effects were over?
Complaints aside, the side effects were surprisingly minor and relatively painless. And feeling a bit off was reassuring — I equated it with the pills’ efficacy. EC just felt like a safeguard.
I’m still functional on the stuff, and I feel a sort of gratitude toward the product. I now have a couple packs I keep around just in case. The brand is Ella, and by virtue of the package design and the name, the whole thing strikes me as actually quite positive. (I was a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan in high school, so the box really puts me at ease — someone in marketing knew what they were doing.)
This is probably outside the focus of the article, but there’s a political issue in all this I struggle with — sexual politics, really. In my experience, anyone who hasn’t taken EC can’t quite appreciate how rough EC is on the body. Even with a supportive partner, it’s a strangely isolating experience, I guess? It’s all consistent with the uneven nature of birth control and family planning in general, of course — women tend to shoulder an inordinate physical burden.
Another side, not necessarily relevant, story: I was once on the phone with my best friend from middle/high school, and we were talking about how her first pregnancy was going. I, meanwhile, was walking to Planned Parenthood to get EC. It struck me as a funny illustration of how we were in somewhat different stages of our lives. I found it kind of novel, rather than upsetting.
Would you use EC again?
Yes. I’m even more careful with birth control now, since I’m loathe to subject myself to a day or day and a half of generalized sadness. But as I’ve said, EC is a great safeguard, and I have two packs of it in my bathroom drawer.