“Morning after pill” available to students

Christopher McKagen, Staff Writer

The Student Health Center recently began offering the “morning after pill” birth control to female FMU students, confidentially, at a reduced rate.

The pill, known more officially as Plan B, is used as a backup or emergency form of birth control after a sexual event that a female believes may result in unintended pregnancy. These events can include a broken condom or no use of a condom at all

Dr. Karen Thompson, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Professor of Nursing at FMU, said that Plan B can stop a pregnancy from occurring.

“This is pregnancy prevention,” Thompson said. “This is to help stop unintended pregnancy from happening.”

Teva Pharmaceuticals, whose website claims the manufacture of 63 billion tablets of different medicines per year, produces the pill. The company also offers a program for college campuses that Thompson and her colleagues explored.

“We contacted them, worked it out and were able to bring a supply to this campus,” Thompson said. “They charge us 15 dollars per pill, and that is what we charge the student. We do not make any money. A local drugstore will run anywhere between 40 and 50 dollars for that one pill.”

There are multiple ways to pay for Plan B, all of which are confidential. Tracy Aniello, Health Services Manager at the FMU Student Health Center, said that payment can be completed in the Student Health Center.

“If they have cash or check, we can take it the same day. If they have a credit card or don’t have the money, then we have them fill out a receipt,” Aniello said.

If a receipt is completed, it is sent over to the Accounting Office in Stokes Administration Building, with no description of what is being charged, and the student can pay for Plan B there.

Thompson and other professors surveyed approximately 4 percent of the student population at FMU last spring. Thompson said that a small percentage of the students that completed the survey reported having unintended pregnancies, a number comparable to other universities.

“We were on par with other college campuses at between 3 and 4 percent,” Thompson said. “From those results, we wanted to offer something for the students.”

Thompson said that it was important to understand exactly what Plan B does for preventing pregnancy.

“This is not an abortion pill,” Thompson said. “We do not perform abortions on this campus. Plan B prevents ovulation.”

Thompson said that Plan B contains progestin, a synthetic form of the naturally produced female hormone progesterone. If conception has taken place and pregnancy already begun, Plan B should not affect the pregnancy in any negative way.

“Progesterone’s role in pregnancy is to maintain the pregnancy,” Thompson said.

But by taking the high concentration of progestin found in Plan B soon after the event, ovulation can be halted for a short period of time. Without the release of new eggs for the time that Plan B is active in the body, the chance of pregnancy is reduced dramatically as long as it is taken within three days.

“It is rated at anywhere between 75 and 85 percent effective at preventing pregnancy in the first three days,” Thompson said. “It needs to be taken as soon as possible after the event.”

Plan B will only be given to a female student that comes into the Student Health Center and speaks with a nurse or doctor.

“It is completely confidential,” Thompson said. “There is a small slip of paper at the sign-in desk that she can just write ‘Plan B’ on if she doesn’t want to say it out loud.”