The Morning After Pill Only Effective On Some

Shocking news has arrived that the morning after pill otherwise known as Plan B or Emergency Contraception (EC) is not effective on many women. The reasoning for this is weight. According to studies done by a European company called Norlevo, that produces EC, the pill is not effective on women over 176 pounds and is less effective on women over 165 pounds.

The reason this is so shocking is that many women are over those two weights. This is due to the hormone levonorgestrel, which will loose it’s effectiveness. Levonorgestrel is used in all EC in Canada and used in almost all EC around the world. Mother Jones who broke the news of this story first, found this information on the weight of women in America:

Data for the years 2007 to 2010 show the average weight of American women 20 years and older is 166.2 pounds—greater than the weight at which emergency contraceptive pills that use levonorgestrel begin to lose their effectiveness. The average weight of non-Hispanic black women aged 20 to 39 is 186 pounds, well above the weight at which these pills are completely ineffective. A CDC survey published in February found that 5.8 million American women used emergency contraceptive pills from 2006 to 2010.

This means that the average woman in the United States is unlikely to be able to use EC effectively. Access to EC and other reproductive technologies that work is vitally important for women. Women need the ability to prevent pregnancy as part of their reproductive rights.

According to one source the average weight of the Canadian woman is 153 pounds but according to Macleans magazine the average is 155 pounds, just on the border of being able to use effective EC. But with average Canadians of all weights having sex at least once a week there are bound to be some mistakes.

With 65% of 18-19 year olds and 29% of 15-17 year olds being sexually active and about 35% of Canadians aged 15-24 not using condoms and having unprotected sex, there is most defiantly a need for effective EC. If you do not use protection you can get pregnant, but when something goes wrong with protection EC has always been a way for Canadian women to prevent pregnancy. Although I have been unable to find statistics on how often EC is used in Canada it is still used, and it shouldn’t matter if one or a thousand women use it every year it should always be effective.

Many women who use EC are scared, they are using EC because they had unprotected sex, which rarely happens on purpose. These women are trying to take control of their bodies and prevent an unwanted pregnancy. If the pill they take doesn’t tell them it wont work they will not be able to prevent pregnancy in other ways and may end up with an unwanted pregnancy and/or an unwanted abortion.

If EC is not going to be effective on all women it needs to be labeled so women will be better able to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy. Norlevo sells EC in many European and Asian countries and has no set timeline on when they will change the labelling of their product to display this new information or even if they will display it in non European companies at all. American companies, such as the producer of Pan B One Step (sold in Canada and the US), have not commented on whether they will be changing their labelling or if they will be doing any tests on their own products to asses effectiveness based on weight.

One thing that women who are over 165 pounds can do to prevent an unwanted pregnancy is use an IUD as a form of emergency contraception. There are both hormonal and non hormonal IUDs available. The problem with IUD is it is not as easily accessible as EC and is invasive. A doctor must insert the IUD into your body. IUD’s can also be costly, especially in the US, but IUD can be left in after being used as a form of emergency contraception. IUD is also a form of birth control, and can stay affective at preventing pregnancy for 3-10 years depending on the form used.

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Queer Sex Ed. and Reproductive Technology

I know my blog may be a little heteronormative at times, but I am trying to find more information on other forms of reproductive technology. Just because you aren’t a cis-gendered woman it doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about reproductive technologies as well.

This video is a general explanation of queer sexual education:

One part of the video that I thought was very important starts around 5:20 and talks about birth control. An IUD is the only hormone free birth control available other than external forms of birth control like condoms. It is a good idea if you want to be on birth control but cannot or do not want your hormones affected. Another part of this video I really liked was talking about consent; in all cases consent is always needed.

Remember whether you are straight, gay, cis, trans or anything else it is always important to know the reproductive technologies that are available to you, and always have consent when using them.

Yes, Abortion is part of Reproductive Rights

New Jersey Republican Christopher Smith seems to think that he can trip up Hillary Clinton by asking if “reproductive health” “reproductive services” or “reproductive rights” includes abortion. Her response is perfect:

Not only does she go in the opposite direction of many anti-choice people by first saying that she respects his opinion and how he advocates for it passionately (I have never heard an anti-choice person say the same thing to a pro-choice person). Hillary also very clearly explains that she thinks access to family planning, reproductive rights and abortion are necessary for women and for women’s healthcare.

She is right. Women need access to family planning and abortions because, as shown in the stories of her own personal experience, abortions are going to happen if they are legal or not. There is no reason a woman should have to fight for her life after a botched abortion because reproductive healthcare should be available to all women no matter what country they live in. This is not a single issue, reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare is a problem in every country in the world, and this needs to change.

We need more women, and men, like Hillary out there fighting for the reproductive rights of everyone.

The Pro-Voice Project: A Documentary

The Pro-Voice Project: A Documentary is “a film about the human stories and shades of gray hidden in our black and white abortion debate”. I believe this is an important project. It is a way to get out of the politics and controversy of abortion debates and just tell it as it is, without any interference. It is important for women to tell their stories. Story telling has always been an important way of healing and communication in women’s issues and movements throughout history. One of the best ways you can learn about something and truly understand it is when you hear true personal stories.

These women are very brave; not everyone would want to talk about abortion, especially not in a documentary. I think they are doing an amazing thing by creating this film. This film will be very helpful, and teach a lot of people the real facts about women who get an abortion.

But, the film is not done being made. Although parts of the it have been filmed already, there is still more that needs to be done. They plain on going to Texas and New Jersey and will need funding to get there. The funding will be used to afford filming, among other things. Making movies isn’t cheap and this is an important movie that needs to be made.

If you would like to help please check out there Kickstarter page. There is also a lot more information and a great video about the film on the page, if you just want more information on it.

I really hope they reach there goal and the film can be made:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rebekahf/the-pro-voice-project-a-documentary

Who will make the first male birth control?

 

There are many forms of birth control for women and companies making birth control for women, but when will any form of male birth control (other than the condom) be available to men? Well hopefully it wont be too much longer. Many universities and institutions, from India to Minnesota, have gained ground on the production of male birth control.

In the past I have posted about a possible birth control injection for men called RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance). It was created by Sujoy Guha in India, and although it is 100% effective it is getting wrapped in a lot of red tape. There is no need to be too sad over this injection not being on the market, because many other forms of male birth control may be on the way.

The Rockefeller University has been using research on cell death to try and create a male birth control and cure male infertility. I am no biology major but, to the best of my knowledge cell death is when the body purposefully kills its own cells; when sperm is being created it loses a large amount of its size by partial cell death. Sperm needs to loose a lot of it size in order to be fertile. Now that scientists at Rockefeller know more about the way sperm cells are created they can use this information to change the sperm: they can prevent sperm from having partial cell death and render them infertile or in cases of infertility where the sperm are not undergoing cell death they can cause it to happen. This is exciting stuff because knowing how cells are created will not only help in reproductive technologies but also in other areas of medicine such as cancer research.

The scientists at Rockefeller have been pretty busy because they may have a form of birth control on the market -hopefully- soon. In the studies the drug is in the form of a gel but could change forms when it has been further tested. One of the test subjects of this birth control has taken to reddit to share his experience. According to the test subject, and this article by Huffington Post, the only side effect was being horny(er). Considering all the side effects women face when taking birth control (depending on the type and person: abdominal pain, headaches, bloating, mood swings, blood clots, death…shall I go on) this doesn’t seem like a bad side effect at all. Hopefully the studies will end soon and this new drug will enter the market.

The University of Minnesota’s  Gunda Georg, the head of The College of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry, is working with a team of scientists to develop Gamendazole.  Gamendozole is a birth control pill for men.

Georg said the drug will be a “reversible” alternative to permanent vasectomies because men will be able to take the pill to temporarily minimize fertility and can regain fertility if they stop taking it… She said the drug has to be completely free of side-effects, such as potential sperm damage, before being released onto the market. “This drug has to be absolutely clean,” Georg said, “and that’s a very high hurdle to take.” (source)

Like many birth control creations for men it takes a long time to get on the market; too bad it wasn’t created at the same time as female birth control when no one cared about the side effects and deaths of test subjects or it would be on the market today along side the female birth control, but lets not dwell in the past.

In the future there will be a male form of birth control which will give men more reproductive options then they have every had before, and give couples more ways to prevent pregnancy. Let’s hope someone wins the fight to be the creators of the first male birth control on the market very soon, because we all know it will be in high demand.

Missouri Women Losing Rights

“To the Missouri State Senate, women aren’t people. They aren’t American citizens. Pharmacists in Missouri can refuse to sell them birth control pills. It’s about belief. If your pharmacist believes you, a woman, shouldn’t be using birth control, he can refuse to sell you the drugs. It’s about his belief. He has a right in Missouri, according to the Senate, to see to it that you behave as he thinks you should. This is what it means to be a woman in America today? We’re back to this?” -Anne Rice

Women in Missouri are not being treated like real people who deserve rights, freedoms, and access to medical care. The Missouri senate has passed legislation, called HB 457, that will allow pharmacists not only the right to deny women* from accessing their birth control -even if prescribed by a doctor- but to also stop stocking birth control and emergency contraception (EC)in their stores. This law is in line with many laws currently taking shape in the United States. The republicans seem very determined to undermine everything feminists and suffragists  have fought for: they want women to have no reproductive rights and they are using religion as a mask to hide their misogyny. The law is meant to protect pharmacists from having to give out medicine that does not fit their religious beliefs, which greatly effects women. This law is misogynist because it is a law that has been created to harm women’s health.

HB 457 is harmful to all women but is detrimental to rape victims and rural women in particular.  Rape victims may not have access to or be provided with the medical care they would need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy caused by rape. Despite what Missouri Republican Todd Akin believes women need reproductive technology in every case of rape:

“”First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” -Todd Akin

I know there are many misconceptions about rape in the Republican party but Republicans being idiots is not a good enough reason for women to have to suffer. Women who are raped and are denied EC will be forced to suffer even further than they already have, and will be more likely to need access to an abortion in the future.

Women living in rural areas will suffer because they will not have the option to find a new pharmacist, if they are denied reproductive technology from the one they have. In many small towns there is only one pharmacist, and towns are spread out. In this case women who do not have the ability to travel to a different town for a pharmacist will no longer have access to the reproductive technology they need for their health.

I agree with Anne Rice when she said  “We’re back to this?”, because these laws are taking us back in time. Is it the republicans goal to have the same reproductive rights as “third world” countries like Chile where an 11 year old rape victim was forced to carry a child? Do they want the country to revert in laws for women to the point where women are no longer considered people? Because that is where they are headed. This is the backlash people; and it’s just the beginning. With rights being taken back one by one and new laws full of red tape for women to access their healthcare it’s only a matter of time before women have no reproductive rights at all. With the rate of unintended pregnancy in teens rising in the US it just doesn’t make sense that they would be creating even more laws to prevent women from reproductive technology.

Women need every kind of reproductive technology available to them at all times,  and the opinions of a pharmacist should not prevent them from having the health care they need. One person should not have the right to control the lives of others. Women need to be able to live their lives as they choose and to have the medical care they need in order to do so. The only way for true equality is for all people to have rights over their own bodies, and that means reproductive rights for everyone.

*in this article women refers manly to cis-gendered women but also to any person who would need access to birth control, EC and reproductive technology

Comical Information on EC

The link I am adding below is a comic about EC or Emergency Contraception. I like the comic as a whole; it is a good way to learn the basics of EC. It explains the difference between EC and the abortion pill and some of the side affects.

The part I disagree with is the way it shows the side effects of EC as being very terrible, when the side effects are actually rare. Many women do not have any side effects at all after taking EC and others have mild side effects. The most common side effects are shown in the comic: nausea and cramping. Different women have different experiences some feel nothing while others are sick for a long time. It is important to be prepared for the worst but chances are if you take EC you will not be in pain or have any side effects for very long. Although the side effects may not be as common as shown it is still not something that should be used as a form of regular birth control- note the same has “emergency” in it for a reason.

I feel overall it is a good comic. I wish it had some information on how to get EC but it is a good way to get people talking about EC.

Check it out:

Emergency Contraception Comic