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Straight Talk: Friend abusing the pill

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: A friend of mine is doing something dumb. She always forgets to take her birth control pills so if she has sex she just swallows a whole packet at once. She says it works the same as the morning-after pill and that it’s safe and normal to feel nauseous afterward. I think she should either remember to take her pills or use a condom but she is a big partier and she never remembers either, which is why she takes the pills the next day. Is this going to mess her up later? — No name Ashley, 20, Auburn: What a terrible idea! Plan B is bad enough, this is worse. Your friend needs a different method than the pill. Just missing one pill hugely increases your chance of getting pregnant. Abi, 21, Pope Air Force Base, NC (deployed): That IS dumb! Options that don’t require daily maintenance are the IUD, NuvaRing, and the Depo-Provera shot. But you still need a condom to protect against STDs. My favorite Web site is webmd.com, just type “birth control” into the search bar. Brie, 17, Ashland, OR: Tips for remembering your daily birth control pill: Set an alarm. Take it when you wake up or at a certain meal. Most sexually active girls I know use birth control and condoms. However, if the condom breaks or they don’t know what happened the night before, many use Plan B, which we learned about in high school. Callie, 18, Redding: I’m guessing her form of “birth control” will affect her later in life. A whole packet (28 pills) is too many hormones at once. I didn’t learn about Plan B in sex-ed, but girls I know that use it do it strictly in emergencies. Rachel, 17, Fair Oaks: Regular birth control pills already mess with your natural hormones, causing acne and weight gain, so taking a whole pack in one dose can’t be good. Your friend should look into alternative methods. I just got a diaphragm. Yes, they are old-fashioned but they don’t affect your natural hormones. The only reason people don’t like them is because you have to put them in, yet it’s the same with condoms so I don’t really see the difference. Also you can put a diaphragm in hours ahead of time and you’re supposed to leave it in after. Liva, 19, Hudson, NY: Taking multiple birth control pills is not as safe as Plan B, which (while also a high dose of the same artificial hormone found in birth control pills), is a CONTROLLED dose, measured exactly for its purpose, whereas “a bunch of birth control pills” is not. Dear No name: Liva is precisely correct. Too bad your friend didn’t vomit! She took way over the dose needed — which ranges from 2 to 6 pills (depending on her pill), taken as soon after intercourse as possible, then the same dose 12 hours later, just like for Plan B. Vomit aside, your friend is going to get pregnant. Using multiple birth control pills for emergency contraception is only 75 percent effective — even Plan B is only 89 percent effective. Will your friend be messed up later? The medical establishment says repeated doses of Plan B are safe, but who knows what they will say in 30 years. Lunch is never completely free — even when it appears to be. Mechanical devices like the IUD are a preferred alternative to artificial hormones and are very popular in Europe, even rivaling the pill in Norway. That the IUD is unsafe for teenagers is a myth. But that’s not all. Your friend, with her partying, promiscuity, and abuse of pharmaceuticals, is a breakdown waiting to happen. Take this column to your school counselor and tell her who it’s about. Your friend is at-risk and needs help. To ask a question or inquire about being a panelist, visit www.straighttalkforteens.com or write P.O. Box 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628.