Tag Archives: emergency contraception

Consider A Copper IUD The Next Time You Need The Morning After Pill


The night was wonderful but the contraception didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of a trip to Walgreens or CVS for the Morning After Pill, why not consider a trip to your doctor’s office or a clinic for an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device)? Few ladies – especially young women – think of getting a copper IUD instead of emergency contraceptive (EC) pills. (A copper IUD means not a hormonal IUD or Mirena…) This is what a recent study found published in Contraception Journal in April 2018.

The study looked at the awareness of women between 18 – 25 years  who didn’t want to get pregnant and who were getting contraceptive counseling at 40 Planned Parenthood health clinics during the years of 2011 – 2013.  Less than 8% of these women were aware of IUD inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex as a method of emergency contraception.

Your friendly doctor

Agreed: going to a Planned Parenthood Clinic isn’t exactly as convenient as a trip to the drugstore. And maybe you know an IUD isn’t right for you. But, now you know it’s an option for emergency contraception, if you didn’t know before…

Conclusion Of 2016 Video Series On ‘The Morning After Pill’ – Emergency Contraceptives – All Around The World

Last year SuzyKnew! took you all around the world where lovely ladies of color live to see what types and brands of emergency contraceptives we could find.

We visited 10 cities across Africa, Europe, the U.S. and the Caribbean. SuzyKnew! visited Hyattsville, MD, USA, Hilton Head, SC, USA, Lagos, Nigeria, Paris, France, Strasbourg, France, Zurich, Switzerland, Johannesburg, South Africa, Cotonou, Benin, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Luanda, Angola.

We mainly found Norlevo and Ella One – especially in Europe. In the States Plan B and Postinor prevailed. In the U.S., there was usually one brand name product available and a generic but one of the products was usually stocked out.  Europe was better stocked and places like Cotonou, Port-au-Prince and Luanda had a wider selection at least at the pharmacies SuzyKnew! visited.

Prices were as low as one or two dollars in places like Lagos, Nigeria to $50 in Zurich, Switzerland. Prices were the highest in the U.S. and Switzerland and lowest in Africa and the Caribbean. Most pharmacies didn’t mind the attention or question.  Pharmacy workers in the U.S. were the most uncomfortable when they saw me with my cell phone video taping.

The good news, ladies, is we do have choices out there, if we’re out there traveling. But, some pharmacies in Africa and the Caribbean were offering products at suspiciously low prices with questionable names and labeling. So, select a product you’re familiar with when possible.

In 2017, SuzyKnew! will start a new video series. We want to interview you on the sexual or reproductive health topic that concerns you the most. Email us at SuzyKnew@suzyknew.com to get an exclusive interview.

Keep it sexy!

Keep it healthy!


SuzyKnew! Finds High Prices For ‘The Morning After Pill’ And Few Blacks In Zurich

SuzyKnew! continues travelling all around the world to see where lovely ladies of color can find emergency contraception also known as ‘The Morning After Pill.’

We’re here at our 4th pharmacy in Zurich, Switzerland located at the train station.  Admittedly, Zurich is not home to bastions of women of color. Wikipedia says in 2013 there were only 84,000 permanent African residents in Switzerland which has a population of around 8 million. Nonetheless, you may find yourself there en route to another country or stopping by to visit a friend as I was. So, it’s good to know.

The Swiss don’t play when it comes to health. When I asked about emergency contraception, the pharmacy lady told me I had to buy the $55 Norlevo and take it right in front of her. She wanted the drug to work. Really? Does she make the white ladies do this, too? We all know Oprah had a hard time here…  But, the pharmacy lady was nice about it – and also seemed real concerned.

For EllaOne, the emergency contraceptive that can be taken up to 5 days of unprotected sex and works better for ladies with a lot of curves, a prescription was required. So,  SuzyKnew! didn’t get the pricing details for this drug – but lots of information on EC.

Compared to the $6 – $7 price of Norlevo in Paris, Zurich is expensive.  Also, the Zurich train station pharmacy only had brand name EC drugs . No generics like in Hyattsville and Lagos. So, plan your encounters carefully in Europe.

See you at the next pharmacy!

Click for SuzyKnew! visits to pharmacies in Hyattsville, Lagos and Paris.

Can A Sista’ Find ‘The Morning After Pill’ In Paris?

Paris is a city full of lovely ladies of color.  Blacks and Arabs make up around 20% of France’s population. If you’re visiting or living there, reportedly it’s easy to find ‘The Morning After Pill’ or emergency contraception.

So far, Suzyknew! has been to pharmacies in two cities where lovely ladies of color live. We’ve been to a centrally-located pharmacy in Hyattsville, MD and the pharmacy inside the airport in Lagos, Nigeria. Both pharmacies carried two brands of emergency contraceptives: one brand name and one generic.

In Paris, we visit the pharmacy located inside the Gare de Lyon train station.  Only one brand is available: ellaOne for 19.62 Euro or around $22 – $23. EllaOne, which contains ulipristal acetate unlike Plan B, Norlevo or Postinor II, is more effective in preventing pregnancy in curvy, voluptuous ladies or overweight women. Plus, it’s effective up to five days after unprotected sex unlike progestin-only pills; but, it is a little more expensive, too.

In Paris, the pharmacist was quite helpful, explaining how to take the medicine ensuring it was taken as soon after unprotected sex as possible. In Lagos, the pharmacist was helpful, too, but in Hyattsville, you are on your own unless you specifically ask for help. So, this is our third city and pharmacy and it’s good to know a sista’ in Paris can find emergency contraceptives in a hurry, even if it’s only one brand.

Notes From A Sista’ In Accra On Dating, Sexing And Condom Mishaps

So the condom broke. I didn’t even notice. He was hard and I was wet and things were gliding and sliding the way they do before I have a really good orgasm. He was moaning my name and that always gets me excited. But then he stopped. I felt this weird tug on the inside, like something was catching on the lining of my walls. I moved. The tug went elsewhere. Then he said “Shiiiiit.” And my heart sank. I sat up and put my head in my hands. I monitor my fertility and I knew that today was not the right day to have a mishap with the condom. Today was play around and have you some twins day. I looked up at him. All he could say was “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I said “Wow. This is not good.” I exhaled. Shook my head. Then tried to focus on the bright side. “Hey, at least you didn’t come inside me.” He said it again “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” And then I realized that was what the moaning was. I guess he wasn’t an “I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming” followed by bared teeth and a series of shudders like my ex was. He was just a moaner. And he had come. Inside me. I had heard about the morning after pill but I had never taken it. Where would I find it? It was one o’clock in the morning. No pharmacy would be open. How soon could you wait? Till eight when the pharmacies opened up? Was that too late? Would some little fishies have swam up and found an egg to shake hands with? Would I already be pregnant by morning?

I kept trying to swallow the giggles hearing about my friend’s adventure with the morning after pill. She never gives a one-word answer so she had chosen to break down the circumstances under which she had to take it to me. See above, they were hilarious. Luckily, the rest of her story is pretty benign. She waited till morning, went to the first pharmacy she saw on her street. They said they didn’t have it, directed her to another pharmacy two streets away. She went there and motioned frantically to the guy behind the counter, wondering if he would need to hear the actual name of the drug and since she didn’t know it if he would immediately understand what she meant when she said “the morning after pill” or if he would be like “the morning after what?” and she would have to fumble through an explanation about moaning and sexing in what a Gallup poll had said was the most religious country in the world. But it went much easier than she thought. She said “the morning after pill” the pharmacist nodded, went into the small room behind the counter, slid a pack across the glass to her, told her she’d need to take it immediately, definitely before 72 hours had passed, and that after she’d taken the white pill she’d have to wait twelve hours and then take the colored pill. It was kinda expensive but she wasn’t about to quibble.  She took it, she didn’t get pregnant, she’s fine.

I was surprised to find out, talking to a few more friends, that the morning after pill is relatively easy to find in Ghana. Almost as easy as the regular oral contraceptive pill. That is, of course, in mid-income areas in the capital city. You don’t need a prescription to get it (though the law says you do) because in Ghana for a lot of things you can usually just walk into a private pharmacy without a prescription and ask for it and they’ll give it to you. They won’t ask too many questions because they figure if you know enough to ask for the drug by name then you’re probably fine taking it. It’s also not some crazy drug that will kill you without a doctor’s supervision. Every friend I talked to had had an easy enough experience finding it, taking it, and most importantly I guess, in every case I talked to it had worked. No pregnancies. No requests for me to be a godmother.

A few friends talked about how sick it made them feel but everyone thinks it was worth it and they’d do it again. As far as they know, everyone in urban areas in the capital city except teenagers or people who the pharmacists just feel like giving a hard time should be able to get their hands on the morning after pill, get the proper information on how to use it and get it multiple times if they want. Easy peasy. Of course for low-income urban areas, for rural women or even women in bigger cities like Kumasi, Cape Coast etc. it would be a whole different story. There are fewer pharmacies, they are less well-stocked, and they are less likely to have things that are considered “special” drugs. Have a headache, fine, you’ll find something. Need a drug for your gout, you’re plumb out of luck. In Ghana, having a robust sex life as a thirty-something year old woman is complicated, for a number of reasons (there aren’t too many age-appropriate single men, men aren’t monogamous, for most of them there isn’t a lot of focus on a woman’s pleasure, you get lots of societal pressure to get married, folks are pretty secretive about casual sex etc. etc.). So though the good news may be that emergency contraception isn’t too hard to find in Accra the bad news is that finding a real relationship to need it in might just be a tad bit harder.

F.N. is a thirty something free-lance writer from Ghana. Currently, she is trying out a new life in Washington, DC



How Easy Is It To Find Emergency Contraception?

Happy New Year!  Thanks for following SuzyKnew!

We’re starting a video series to find out how easy – or hard – is it to find emergency contraceptives in your local, neighborhood pharmacy.

We’ll be going to pharmacies around the U.S., UK, Nigeria, Angola, France and more countries to check out and see what’s going on.

Our first video is at the Rite Aid on Baltimore Avenue in Hyattsville, MD.

Rite Aid only had two choices for Emergency Contraception.  Take a look at the video to find out which ones are there. Or click here.

Can Heavy Girls Use Emergency Contraception? ASK AN OBGYN

Dear SuzyKnew!

Tell me more about emergency contraception.  I’m a big girl, and I heard that I can’t use it.  Is this true?


Dear Reader,

Emergency Contraception (EC) – also called The Morning After Pill – can be a lifesaver for women who experience unprotected sex and want to avoid getting pregnant.   The short answer to your question is that women of all shapes and sizes can use EC, however, for heavier women, progestin-only EC may be less effective.

First, some quick facts about EC: EC can be used up to 120 hours after unprotected sex.  It does not end a pregnancy and does not work if you are already pregnant.  It acts like birth control pills, which is what most EC is after all.

There are three types of EC.  1) Pills that contain progesterone (Plan-B, Take Action, Next Choice) is the most common and available without a prescription.   2) Pills that contain Ulipristal acetate (ella) is a newer product that you can only get from a doctor and may be a better option if you are overweight.  3) The IUD, is less commonly used, but it has the added benefit is becoming your long-term (and very reliable) birth control method.

How can I get EC if I need it?:  The good news is that brand name and generic products are now available in the family planning isle of most major pharmacy chains.  Progestin-only EC is legally available on the shelf without age restrictions and can be purchased by both women and men of all ages.    EC is sold on many Internet sites, including Amazon. Ella requires a prescription; but obtaining an online prescription is possible.

EC is definitely something that all sexually active women should have on hand.  Think of the “emergency” products in your bathroom cabinet: that miracle acne cream, your migraine pills or ointment for a nasty cold sore.  You always make sure you always have enough stock right?   EC should be on the shelf.  A zit will eventually go away, an unintended pregnancy will not.  Yeah, this is serious business.  Because there is a 120 hour effectiveness window, you don’t have a lot of time to mess around getting to a pharmacy.

How does weight change things?:  This is an excellent question and a relevant one since over 35% of  American adults are obese.  In addition, women with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease are at higher risk of pregnancy-related complications, therefore avoidance of unintended pregnancy is especially important.

Here’s the not so good news:  EC appears to be less effective the more you weigh, and decline steadily in effectiveness with increased BMI.   These findings have come out only recently as more EC products are introduced on the market and more women of varying weight are included in clinical trails.   More studies are in the works, but for now this is what I recommend: Calculate your BMI.  If your BMI is 26 or greater, you should talk to your doctor about which EC is right for you.  Your doctor may prescribe ella which appears to have less of a weight factor.

Take care.


Mother’s Day Is Over. But, How Do You Make Sure You Don’t Celebrate It Next Year?

Last Sunday, there were many happy people – especially mothers – celebrating Mother’s Day.

Now that’s it over, how do you make sure you aren’t on the receiving end of a “Happy Mother’s Day!” greeting next year? How do you remain kid-free? We don’t all want kids. Or, if we do, we don’t necessarily want them right now.

Assuming you’ve got a good contraception game plan (see Contraceptives for more), it ‘s good to know you can skip down to your corner drug store and get yourself some Emergency Contraception – that’s EC for short also called “the morning after pill” – if the condom busts or whatever…

Yep. No need to shell out money for a doctor’s visit, let alone taking off from work for a  prescription you might not even be able to get in time. The new US law requiring pharmacists to sell Emergency Contraception without a prescription to girls 15 and older went into effect last April.  Just make sure you take your Next Choice One Dose, Plan B, Ella, or whatever brand you chose within 72 hours of the deed. Five EC brands are available in the US. Other countries may have a larger or smaller choice of brands.

Ella – approved for use up to 5 days after unprotected sex –  is the most effective of the EC pills but may be a little more expensive. And, ladies, EC is not an abortion. EC prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. Until the egg is attached to the womb, you are not pregnant.  You can also have an IUD inserted if you can get an appointment in time and shell out the dough ($400 – $1,000), if you don’t have insurance.

On a more sobering note, getting an abortion is getting tougher in the US.  Months after Roe vs Wade marked its 40th anniversary, more states are putting in restrictive laws. But, one in 3 women in the US will have an abortion in her lifetime.  And, women of color are more likely to have an abortion than white women. But, we’re very unlikely to tell our stories.  A piece in Ebony exposes the problem eloquently.

Statistics show making abortion illegal or legal has no effect on the total number of abortions performed in the world.  But, legalizing abortion dramatically reduces the likelihood a woman will die or have serious medical complications from an abortion.  About half of all pregnancies that occur in a year are unwanted, and nearly half of these women chose to terminate their pregnancy.  Around the world, 42 million women choose to terminate their pregnancy each year with close to half of those (20 million) being illegal.

Wishing you another kid-free Mother’s Day – if that’s your choice!


Surprise! The Contraceptive Method That Is Increasingly Popular Among US Women

When you think of your options regarding contraception you usually think of the pill – whether its the new one that let’s you go period-free or a more traditional one –  condoms and maybe the IUD and injectables.

And when you think of new contraceptive trends you may think of the patch or ring.  So, you probably wouldn’t guess the method that is increasingly popular among women in the United States is actually emergency contraception.  Also, known as “the morning after pill” and by brand names like Plan B, Postinor 1 and 2, and NorLevo, emergency contraception (EC) is taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex for maximum effectiveness.

EC was introduced in the States in the late 1990’s and at the time only 1 percent of women said they had ever tried them. Today, more than 11% of American women report having ever used the method.  This is triple the proportion of women who said they had used EC in the early 2000’s.

Introduced as an option to be used when contraception fails (read broken condom) or after unprotected sex (read the throes of passion got the best of you), most women report they have used EC only once or twice.  Women between 20 – 24 years are the most likely to have used EC; almost one in 4 women report using EC. For the full article click here. For more on emergency contraceptive by SuzyKnew go here.

The increasing popularity of the method may be a  result of improved access. You can get EC at a pharmacy without a prescription if you’re 17 years old. Also, advertising in women’s magazines, social media, etc may put this method increasingly in women’s hands.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to see women exploring their choices when it comes to contraception.