Emergency contraception is supposed to be available over-the-counter for teen girls, but research shows many still face barriers to obtaining it. Dr. Tracey Wilkinson is a pediatrician and the lead author of the study, which posed a couple of simple questions to more than 900 pharmacies across the country.
“Do you have emergency contraception, and if I’m 17 can you get it?”, she asked. “The most recent study showed and discussed some of our conversations with the pharmacy staff and showed some real glaring problems with access for adolescents when it comes to this medication.”
Wilkinson said some of the recurring misinformation included pharmacy staff saying a prescription was needed or that a parent had to be along with a teen, neither of which is true. In addition, some pharmacy workers said they didn’t feel comfortable dispensing emergency contraception, citing personal beliefs.
With the misinformation and barriers, Wilkinson advises all women of reproductive age to get the medication before they need it.
They are also advised “to know the rules and the laws so that you know what you are entitled to. I talk to all my patients about a ‘Plan A’ for contraception and birth control, and this is really your back-up method, but you should have your back-up method when you need it and not struggle to get it when you’re in a tight situation.”
When used correctly, Plan B One-Step emergency contraception prevents fertilization and is 95 percent effective in preventing unintended pregnancies if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.
That study is at JAMA.com. More information on emergency contraception is at EC.Princeton.edu.