Welcome to our first weekly round-up. Every Friday, Go Folic! will provide a review of some of the most important news stories concerning young women’s health, including research, legislation/reproductive rights, and health care access. We’ll also provide you with links to learn more. This week’s stories both involve contraception. Please, read on!
The Birth Control Pill May Lower the Risk of Ovarian Cancer
A new study reported in the journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Women found that women who use birth control pills are less likely to develop ovarian cancer later in life. The study, which examined data from 24 past studies that included thousands of women who took birth control pills for various lengths of time found that women who used oral contraceptives had a 27% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer and women who took the pills for at least 10 years were half as likely to develop the disease, compared with women who never took the pills.
The Pill Tied to Lower Ovarian Cancer Risk (Reuters News Service)
Plan B Emergency Contraception Available with no Age Restrictions
On Monday, June 10, the Obama administration announced that it would no longer fight to maintain age restrictions on over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive (EC), Plan B. This announcement followed a decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the FDA must make two-pill versions of EC available without age or point-of-sale restrictions while the court considered the government’s appeal of a judge’s order to drop restrictions on all EC products. Before this decision, girls under the age of 17 could not buy the product, one of several types of “morning after” pill, without a prescription.
Plan B can be used after intercourse to prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of rape, condom failure or forgetting regular contraception. It works by preventing ovulation and can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. If a girl or woman already is pregnant it has no effect. However, it works best within the first 24 hours, and requiring a woman to get a prescription may delay being able to take it at the most effective time.
Research has established that emergency contraception is safe and that teenagers are capable of taking it correctly. Many medical associations, including the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, had criticized the FDA age limit for making it harder for teens in the U.S. to prevent pregnancy. Some organizations are now expanding the fight for birth control access to make it easier for women to access generic forms of EC (read more).
What does this mean for teenagers? Currently, anyone under the age of 17 needs a prescription to get emergency contraception. All youth clinics in San Francisco will see a teen who needs EC on the same day, although many of these sites are closed during the weekend. Plan B should be available over-the-counter (without a prescription at pharmacies) without age restricts in July or August 2013. Certain other forms of EC will still require a doctor’s prescription. These forms include generics, which are less expensive, and Ella, which is considered to be more effective than Plan B.
Women’s Health Policy Report
Learn more about the history of the decision
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals FAQ
For a complete explanation of the laws regarding teen use of EC
Teen Source Clinic Finder
To find a youth clinic in California by zip code