Worth Health Center to Provide Plan B

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In an effort to provide better care to women at Swarthmore, Worth Health Center is now carrying a new type of emergency contraception. Instead of a combined pill, Worth will now be carrying Plan B, a newer, improved form of emergency contraception. The Gazette got information on the change from Director of Health Services Beth Kotarski, who made it a priority in her first months here.

What is emergency contraception?
For women whose birth control method may have failed, who did not use any birth control, or who were forced to have unprotected sex, emergency contraception (EC) is very effective in preventing pregnancy. EC is effective within the first 5 days after intercourse, though, the sooner a woman can take it, the better. EC is not a medication abortion; it is preventing ovulation and implantation, thus, it prevents a pregnancy from happening. Basically, it’s a way to back up other birth control methods.

What’s the difference between combined pills and Plan B?
Both pills are effective in preventing pregnancy. However, while the combined pill was 82-89% effective, Plan B is 90-92% effective. Plan B has fewer side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, that often resulted from the combined pills. Plan B contains the high levels of progestin that inhibit ovulation and implantation, without the high amounts of estrogen in the combined pill. Estrogen is not needed to prevent ovulation.

How do you get EC at Worth?
The process is very simple. You simply go to Worth (no appointment necessary) and talk to one of the nurses. You will be given information on how the pills work, and about any possible side effects. The nurse will explain what you need to do.

How much does it cost?
Worth is charging $15 for a dose of Plan B. The health center pays $31 per dose from its distributor, but is willing to half the price for students. “If it is a financial hardship, a student can give us what she wants, or nothing,” says Kotarski. Worth may find funding to make Plan B free of charge in the future, but does not have the funds right now. The added costs are absorbed by Worth’s existing budget. “Yes, Plan B is more expensive than the older pill we offered, but because it is the standard of care for young women today, it is what we will now provide,” says Kotarski.

Where else can I get Plan B?
Planned Parenthood offers Plan B and charges $30 for a dose, without requiring the patient to be seen for a visit. If the woman chooses to be seen, the price is reduced for the Plan B, but there is a fee for the visit. Target charges $42, CVS charges $40, and Genuardi’s charges $45.

If you have any questions about Plan B, or emergency contraception in general, drop by Worth, send them an email at health@swarthmore.edu, or call ext. 8058.

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