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'Plan B' Approved For Use in Minors

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

The FDA recently announced that it will comply with a judge’s order to allow the contraceptive Plan B to be available to adolescents at 17 years of age without a prescription. Plan B is a combination of hormones (at higher doses than used in conventional birth control pills) that is highly effective in preventing pregnancy if used within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

This ruling allows minors to purchase medication without a prescription to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. To my mind this ruling is really not about whether a 17 or 18 year old may purchase the medication (as I imagine friends buy this for one another quite frequently). It is another opportunity for an open discussion with your children, not only daughters, about pre-marital sex and pregnancy.

Unfortunately, teenage pregnancy is on the rise, and the best prevention has been shown to be education. These open discussions about sexuality need to begin in middle school and continue throughout adolescents. Your teen needs to have factual information available to them about making choices to abstain or postpone their sexual debut until they are older. I believe that the more information you provide your son or daughter the better choices they will make. I also hope that if they decide to have intercourse they will use contraception as well asbarrier contraception not only to prevent pregnancy but also sexually transmitted diseases.

So take this news making opportunity to discuss sex and Plan B with your son or daughter. Let them know what the medication is. Discuss your philosophy and morals with them. Take the time to talk, know that open communication is the best education.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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