Sex + Gender
Queer + Feminist
Social theory + Cultural Critique

Does my weight affect what emergency contraception I can use?



A lot of you asked us:

Is it true that Plan B isn’t effective for women who weigh 176 pounds, and it becomes less effective at 165? What other emergency contraception options are there?

We’re working to make sure that everyone has all of the information they need in order to decide what’s best for them when it comes to emergency contraception. Let’s break down the facts:

What’s emergency contraception (EC)?

Emergency contraception (also called the morning-after pill) is birth control that you can use up to 5 days after unprotected sex (like if you don’t use a condom or forget to take your pills, for example).

There are a few different kinds of emergency contraception:

  • There are two different types of EC pills:
  • Ulipristal acetate, known by the brand name ella
  • You need a prescription from a nurse or doctor to get ella
  • Levonorgestrel pills, including the brands Next Choice One Dose, My Way, and Plan B One-Step
  • Plan B One-Step is available at drugstores over the counter, without a prescription for anyone, regardless of gender or age.
  • The sooner levonorgestrel pills are taken after unprotected sex, the better they work.

Why is Plan B One-Step in the news?

It was recently announced that in Europe, a method of emergency contraception which is identical to Plan B One-Step pills is now going to include information on the label stating that these pills are less effective in women over 165 pounds and may not be effective in women over 175 pounds. This label change was based on analysis of a 2011 study.

I weigh more than 175 pounds. What are my options for EC?

The most effective option for women of any weight is getting a ParaGard IUD inserted by a nurse or doctor. If you’d rather take a pill, you can take ella. Weight can also be a factor for ella effectiveness: If you have a body mass index (BMI) that’s higher than 35, it’s less effective (but still worth a shot if you can’t get an IUD). Click here to learn more about ella.

If the IUD or ella aren’t options for you and you weigh more than 175 pounds, it’s perfectly safe to take Plan B One-Step or Next Choice One Dose—but it may not work for you.

How do I get ella?

You need a prescription from a nurse or doctor to get ella. You can also consult with a doctor through the ella website and get it delivered to you the next day. (You need to have a credit card and be 18 to order it online.)

When it comes to weight and effectiveness of emergency contraception, more study is needed but, until then, if you weigh more than 165 and need EC, ella and the ParaGard IUD are your best bet. If you need EC and have questions about which EC method is best for you, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center.

-Chelsea at Planned Parenthood

(via seriouslyamerica)

Do you take birth control? If so, which method and why?

A question by Anonymous

Currently, I am not on any form of birth control. Personally, I don’t like the way hormonal birth control makes me feel both physically and emotionally. I have taken several different forms of the pill, but would be interested in having the copper IUD in the future. This is not everyone’s experience with birth control and I highly encourage people to explore all the options to find the one that works best for them. Even though I am not currently using BC, I am a huge advocate for access to birth control. Its so very, very important. 

Cheap birth control options.





There’s this really cool thing about our Constitution that says if the majority of both houses of Congress vote for a law, and then the President signs it, it becomes a law. And then, just to make sure Congress doesn’t accidentally pass any laws that are antithetical to other parts of the Constitution, we have a Supreme Court that is highly trained in reading, interpreting, and applying what the Constitution says. And that Supreme Court has the right to strike down anything they deem unconstitutional.

And that is exactly what happened with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The PPACA was passed into law according to the guidelines set down by the Constitution, and then it was ruled compatible with our Constitution by the Supreme Court of the United States.

So yes, I do have the right to purchase health insurance that is affordable, covers preventive care without co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles, and is not contingent on my lack of preexisting conditions because the PPACA is a legitimate and Constitutionally sound law.

The key phrase here is “to purchase,” because prior to the PPACA, many individuals that were not covered by an employer’s group policy did not have the option to buy an individual plan, either due to preexisting conditions, a lack of availability in their area (or a lack of in-network doctors in their area), or the fact that individual policies are priced up to ten times higher than group policies. And even for individuals who could purchase insurance, most areas have one or two monopolizing insurance companies, which means that if that company chooses not to provide adequate preventive care coverage, no one has access to pay for the coverage they want. Before the PPACA, we did not have a “free-market” system of health insurance, regardless of what your conservative mouthpieces have told you. 

The federal government (and state governments, to some extent) already exercise regulations on ~~~~PRivATe~~~~ businesses. Employers are not permitted to abuse their employees, and must provide safe work areas and regular breaks. Research and development firms cannot dump all manner of chemical or biological waste into the surrounding environment. Manufacturers cannot falsely advertise or mislabel their products. Producers of food and pharmaceutical products are subject to what are arguably the most rigorous and intensive government regulations of all. Federal regulation of business is commonplace, Constitutional, and exists to protect employees, consumers, and society at large.

And that is what the PPACA does. By mandating that insurance companies cannot discriminate against sick patients, cannot drop paying customers for becoming sick, and must provide affordable preventive care, the PPACA protects consumers of insurance policies from companies that would take their money and refuse them care. The PPACA also protects society at large because in the long run, people with access to preventive care are healthier and incur far fewer health care costs.

You claim that the PPACA “infringes on your rights” because you are allegedly paying for my health coverage- and you could not be more wrong. As I said before, every individual who holds a private insurance policy paid for it. We all pay (quite hefty) premiums in order to be guaranteed coverage in case we need health care services.

As for being angry about being “forced to buy insurance,” do you realize that besides being declared Constitutional by the Supreme Court, the individual mandate is not a groundbreaking new law that forces insurance coverage? You cannot drive a car without purchasing car insurance. If you do, you are subject to heavy fines or even jail. 

So are you angry about the concept of insurance? Does your problem stem from the fact that insurance companies function by having customers pay premiums into a central “pot,” out of which claims are paid? If that’s the case, then I certainly hope you’re out there railing against car insurance, life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and every other business that requires that people pay a fee to have their costs covered in the event of an accident or similarly bad occurrence.

And if you’re worried about being able to afford insurance, the PPACA has you covered. There are a number of tax credits for individuals buying their own insurance and for small businesses providing insurance to their employees that are designed to make healthcare affordable for everyone. Additionally, the PPACA expands Medicaid to cover more people who would not be able to afford insurance out-of-pocket, and has a minimum income cutoff for enforcing the tax penalties of the individual mandate. It isn’t a half-baked scheme that will leave some Americans out in the cold; this is a comprehensive overhaul that tackles issues within corporate insurance companies, reduces healthcare costs, expands coverage to more Americans, and ensures that the coverage that we have is adequate.

TL;DR: All aspects of the PPACA that you complained about have been ruled entirely Constitutional, so you have no room to complain about your imagined rights.

Hey, did you know that Obamacare is actually unconstitutional? Did you know that people in Congress vote for things all the time that are actually unconstitutional?And that the Constitution requires any tax bills to originate in the House, and Obamacare was deemed a tax in the Senate? That it was said Obamacare is NOT a tax, even though it really is? And Obamacare is a tax increase for the middle class, when Obama said that there would be NO tax increases on the middle class?

Clearly we didn’t have a free-market healthcare system before this went into effect. You’d have to be an idiot to think we did, and I’m relatively certain that no one says we did because even before, the government was heavily involved in healthcare.

Your quick and poorly edited response tells me that you did not read my entire refutation above. But no matter, I suspected that would happen and had the foresight to provide you with a summary.

As I wrote above and you did not read, the Supreme Court of the United States has used its power of judicial review to rule that the vast majority of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is, in fact, Constitutional. I don’t know if you paid attention in 3rd grade Social Studies class, but the SCOTUS is the highest court in the land and is co-equal with Congress and the President of the U.S. The SCOTUS exists to interpret the Constitution and to decide if state and federal laws are compatible with that Constitution.

Because the SCOTUS is the highest judicial entity, and the only branch of the federal government with the power to determine Constitutionality, a law is Constitutional if the SCOTUS says it is Constitutional.

Your attempt to find a loophole in the Constitutionality of the PPACA that the nine legal scholars appointed to be the nation’s highest judges never thought of is cute, but wrong. The portion of the PPACA that deals with the tax penalties associated with the individual mandate did originate as a bill in the House that was later heavily edited.

And as I stated above and you ignored/glossed over, the PPACA (or OBAMACARE, as you insist upon calling it) includes tax incentives for paying for health insurance and exempts those who truly cannot afford the premiums. The PPACA would only be an increase on middle-class families if a family could afford to pay for health insurance but chose not to. 

But that doesn’t really count as a tax increase, because there is a very simple way to avoid paying that penalty.

This is so very much awesome.


(via thesailortitan)

Do you think the side effects of birth control pills outweigh the benefits taking them?

A question by Anonymous

I think it ultimately boils down to personal choice. For some people, the side effects are so minimal that taking birth control is a very easy and simple decision. For others, the side effects are intense or uncomfortable, so the decision to continue taking birth control is one that needs time to be considered. Its all about choice and agency for me - do what is best and feels best for you and your lifestyle. If you’re having difficulty making this decision, talk to your medical provider. You might be on the wrong type/brand of birth control for you. Also see bedsider - they do a good job of explaining all the different types of birth control available as well.

Things that interact with birth control


Talk to your doctor if you’re taking any of these

  1. Antibiotics 
  2. anti seizure and migraine medication 
  3. anti fungal medications
  4. Benzodiazapines
  5. Nefazodone (with antidepressants it depends a lot on the kind and brand)
  6. HIV medications
  7. Respiratory medications
  8. Diabetic medications
  9. St. Johns wort
  10. high levels of some soy products
  11. vitex
  12. dong quai
  13. black cohosh
  14. red clover
  15. chasteberry
  16. high levels of natural licorice 
  17. grapefruit

Really if you take ANYTHING you need to tell your doctor that you’re on birth control or let your doctor know about everything you’re on when you’re put on birth control. If need be, keep a list with you so you know what all you’re on.

One of the many reasons why I will never shut up about Sex Ed



…Most Americans by now have a passing familiarity with the way the anti-choice movement has grown past attacks on abortion and is moving on to attacks on contraception access, from defunding Planned Parenthood to fighting the Obama administration on an HHS requirement to make contraception available without a co-pay to women with insurance. What they may see less of is the war on contraception that’s going on in the culture. Anti-choice activists have been turning up the volume on misinformation campaigns aimed at creating doubt in the public, especially among young people, about the efficacy of contraception. These efforts started in earnest under the Bush administration, with the explosion of federally funded abstinence-only programs. As those programs have mostly receded due to utter inability to convince kids to abstain from sex, efforts like 1 Flesh and the Pill Kills have stepped up to try to sow doubts about the use of contraception.

Abstinence-only programs were justified by claims that they were about discouraging teenage sex altogether, but considering how much anti-choice literature tells romantic stories about how unintended pregnancy led to ecstatic proposals and happily-ever-afters, one gets the feeling they also would be happy with an uptick in the unplanned pregnancy rate. Sites like 1 Flesh make the “more pregnancies” agenda clear; the site specifically argues against the use of contraception even in marriage, which can’t serve any other purpose in the reality-based world except to increase the rate of unintended pregnancies.

Unfortunately, the new strategies that 1 Flesh is using might actually be effective in achieving this goal, because unlike the old church lady-style methods of anti-contraception efforts, 1 Flesh is tapping into preexisting cultural myths and narratives about contraception that are already known to cause people to be inconsistent in their contraception use.

They go straight for some common beliefs: 1) condoms ruin sex (as Dan Savage has noted, if condoms decreased sensation that much, you’d think men would notice more when they broke); 2) the pill has a lot more negative side effects than it actually has; and 3) condom breakage is more common than it is. In other words, the usual comportment of myths that sex educators find they have to debunk coming from all sorts of people, even those who don’t have any relationship to the Christian right whatsoever.

1 Flesh also promotes the idea that birth control doesn’t do anything to reduce the unintended pregnancy rate. That this idea might have traction in the public at large already might seem asinine (what are people using all that contraception for, if not to prevent pregnancy?), but even without Christian right propaganda, the idea that birth control doesn’t do a very good job at preventing unintended pregnancy is surprisingly widespread. Earlier this year, Guttmacher released a study where it quizzed over 1,000 young people between ages 18 and 29 about their contraception knowledge. Unsurprisingly, the usual myths about condom failure and pill danger were well-represented, but the big surprise was that the myth that birth control doesn’t actually matter was also widespread.

A shocking 40 percent of the young people surveyed believed that using birth control doesn’t actually do much to prevent pregnancy, agreeing with the statement, “when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen.” In other words, they had a magical belief that somehow the universe would prevent them from getting pregnant when it wasn’t time, even if they’re not using contraception at the time. This preexisting belief is one that groups like 1 Flesh are trying to encourage by spreading lies about how birth control doesn’t change the unintended pregnancy rate.

Why is it so easy for people to underestimate not just the effectiveness of birth control, but also how likely they are to get pregnant if they don’t use it? Part of the problem is, ironically, that birth control is so effective, but so hidden. Much as the anti-vaccine movement could only erupt in a culture where the diseases the vaccines prevent are out of sight and easy to dismiss, contraception works so well at suppressing fertility that many people have no idea how high fertility rates would be without it. Sex is everywhere: TV characters have it, songs on the radio are full of it, and most friends gossip about it. But contraception is rarely discussed in much detail, if at all. It’s easy for someone to look at all this booty-knocking and the relatively low birth rate and conclude that it’s not that easy to get pregnant instead of concluding, correctly, that contraception use is widespread.

To add even more confusion into the mix, heavy media coverage of infertility in light of exciting new technologies to fix the problem has had the side effect of encouraging people to overestimate their own chances of infertilityResearchers at John Hopkins University found that 19 percent of women and 13 percent of men ages 18-29 believed that they were likely to be infertile, though they had no evidence to believe this. The drumbeat of stories about couples who have a hard time conceiving might also contribute to the misconception that getting pregnant without contraception is more infrequent than it actually is.

In reality, a sexually active woman who uses no contraception has an 85 percent chance of getting pregnant within a year. Anti-contraception activists go out of their way to conceal this fact, hoping women feel that their risks of skipping contraception are much lower than they are. It would be laughable if the only audience for this anti-contraception propaganda were folks with good sex education and a solid knowledge of how effective contraception really is. Unfortunately, they’re speaking to a larger audience already rife with misinformation about contraception and fertility; an audience that might not like the anti-sex message, but could be influenced by the anti-contraception one.

Amanda Marcotte exposes 1 Flesh and other campaigns spreading misinformation about contraception. 1 Flesh doesn’t just promote condomless sex, they are aggressively anti-birth control of any kind, which presents a serious threat to the health and well being of young folks.

I already posted an excerpt from this article but now that 1Flesh has a Tumblr page that is tagging its posts to get into sexual health related tags it is time to post it again.

first - I love your theme. Second - what are some non-hormonal methods of birth control, other than condoms, for a cis-woman having sex witha ces-man? The pill had terrible side effects but I often worry that condoms aren't enough and most doctors won't give and IUD if you haven't given birth. :/

I’m glad you like the theme! I like it too :) 

As for non-hormonal birth control methods, check out this page. I discourage people using spermicides as they can increase your chances of contracting an STD as well as cause infections. I also discourage people from soley using the pull-out method/rhythm method. These are things that should be used in addition to something else. I would also encourage you to talk to your doctor/medical professional at your local clinic about what non-hormonal methods would be best for you. Bedsider is another amazing resource! 

Quick question. I have had sex twice and have used a condom both times. The condoms have spermicide and my partner pulled out too. We used them correctly and they did not break. Pregnancy is a very slight chance, correct? And also, is it true that spermicide is for if the condom breaks and is like a back up plan just in case? thanks xx. your blog is great.

A question by Anonymous

Thank you for the love! Regarding your questions: when condoms are used consistently and correctly, which it sounds like you have done, they are highly effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. The spermicide in the condom does assist in pregnancy prevention, but can actually increase your chances of infection and contracting STD’s. I always like to steer people away from using spermicidal condoms because of this. If you want to protect yourself further from unwanted pregnancy, continue to use condoms (non-spermicidal) and consider choosing an additional birth control method that better suits your needs

What Will My IUD Do To Me If…?


There’s a lot of wonderful information out there on IUDs, one of the most effective methods of birth control on the market. Here we answer some questions that are not always part of the typical IUD spiel, but are crucially important (and often asked!) by a lot of people on the Interwebs:

  • I have an STI. Can the strings of my IUD transmit STIs to my cervix or uterus, either during insertion or just through regular wear? I don’t want to end up with herpes sores inside my uterus.

Short answer: no.
Long answer: The IUD is sterilized during insertion, and the strings are made of sealed, non-porous material that will not transmit or transfer bacteria/viruses anywhere inside the body. Some of the first IUDs used porous, multifilament strings that did cause internal infections, which is where this idea comes from now, but ever since 1976 modern IUDs have been monitored by the FDA to ensure their strings are sealed.

  • Is it true that the IUD increases cervical mucus to the point where it’s really hard to get anything else up in the vaginal canal?

Hormonal IUDs, like other hormonal birth control such as the Pill, can cause your cervical mucus to thicken as an added precaution to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. However, any fluctuations in the viscosity/amount of your cervical mucus should definitely not be large enough to impede your ability to have penetrative sex.

  • Is it safe to fist with an IUD? Can the strings from your IUD rip holes in gloves/condoms?

Regarding condoms and gloves: This is not currently thought to be a major concern or occurrence, but in theory, the strings could potentially damage condoms or gloves. We have not seen any data that supports or refutes this, and invite it if any of our readers have seen such studies - but extra precautions should be considered regarding this. It is certainly possible to fist/use large insertable toys safely and getting an IUD doesn’t mean you have to cut these fun activities out of your sex life completely!

If I have an IUD (Mirena) and I let my bf cum inside me what are the chances of me getting pregnant? Its made me have very few periods since I got it last year and they only last a day or so... so thats gotta mean my egg barely evr gets released and my womb lining is minimal so thats gotta be a plus right?

A question by Anonymous

This question concerns me because it leads me to believe a medical provider implanted an IUD into your body without explaining how it works. Although it is our responsibility to ask questions, medical professionals should make sure patients understand how procedures, products and medications work before proceeding with any given treatment. 

So, first things first anon:

1. The IUD is the most effective birth control method currently available. 1 in 100 people will become pregnant in one year when using an IUD. This means that becoming pregnant while using an IUD is very, very rare. The IUD blocks a sperms ability to meet with an egg - no sperm meeting an egg, means no pregnancy (source). So to answer your question about getting pregnant, the answer it is highly improbable that you are - which is precisely why the IUD can be such a great form of birth control to use :) 

2. Mirena will certainly change your menstrual cycle and, according to their FAQ, it is normal for periods to become considerably lighter or stop altogether while the IUD is in place. Your period is light because the levonorgestral in Mirena impedes the thickening of the uterus lining (thick uterine lining = heavier menstrual flow, thin uterine lining = lighter flow). So, this doesn’t have to do with your eggs, but with the way the hormone in your IUD prevents pregnancy. 

All in all, by having the IUD, unwanted pregnancy is not something you have to stress about. The IUD does not, however, protect you against STD’s so using a barrier method would further protect you. I hope this helps and I strongly encourage you to reach out to your medical provider to discuss your IUD further to ensure you have the information you need to feel comfortable and confident with your birth control method. 

Hi, I've been using spermicidal form inserts as a form of birth control lately and after using them I find that I seem to "leak" for hours and hours after sex. Is this normal?

A question by Anonymous

Leaking … ejaculate? Leaking vaginal fluid? Discharge? I am not a fan of spermicides because they easily cause infections and disturb the pH balance of the vagina. If you’ve been using them regularly and have noticed a change in your genital health, I would definitely go to the doctor to make sure you don’t have an infection. See the Mayo Clinics side effects page for spermicides.  

Do you think 15 is too young to start birth control??? Just wanted to see if I'm crazy for wanting to do it before I actually DO it...

A question by Anonymous

TW: mention of periods

Personally, I don’t think age is a factor - I think menstruation is a factor. If you are menstruating, then birth control is something to consider. See Planned Parenthoods resource about considering birth control, its benefits and side effects. Ultimately, the decision is between you and your doctor. Do some research and then discuss birth control options with a medical professional to see what is best for you and if it really is the best thing for you at this point in time. 

“ The majority of the 210 first-year college students who participated in the study were unable to use websites and Internet search engines to identify the most efficient way to acquire emergency contraception pills (ECPs) in a time of need, said Eszter Hargittai, lead author of the study and associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern. ”


From “Students find emergency contraception info hard to locate,” posted to Evanston Now on June 14th, 2012.

We know that for various reasons it can be tricky to access EC (emergency contraception) in a timely fashion—kind of a problem in an emergency situation. That’s why Bedsider has a separate database for EC in our “Where to get it” section. But there’s more work to be done…

We got as much information as we could (including every Safeway in the country—whew!), but there are lots of places to get EC that aren’t in there… yet. Which is where you come in. When you search your zip code, you’ll see a link below the map that says “Are we missing a location for EC? Let us know.”

So, if you—or someone you know—have found EC (at a clinic, at a pharmacy, at a supermarket… you get the idea) in your area, now’s your chance to share the wisdom and make EC information just a little easier to find online.  

(via bedsider)