The truth about EC

This letter is in response to the very uninformed commentary included in the August 21 edition of Northeastern News. The author, Carla Molina (a philosophy major) took it upon herself to “educate” the Northeastern community regarding the wonders of emergency contraception (EC). She feels that doctors are keeping EC a secret and that this method is vastly underused.

First, there is a reason why they call it emergency contraception. This high of a birth control dose should be reserved for emergencies. EC is not something that should be taken on a whim or prescribed without the occurrence of an urgent situation.

Secondly, EC, contrary to what Molina wrote, is not close to becoming an over-the-counter medication for the same reasons that other female birth control agents have not. It possesses several side effects that must be monitored by a qualified physician.

Molina did have something right though, EC is simply a high dosed female oral contraceptive. This means that the side effects you experience with regular-dosed oral contraceptives increase in incidence with EC. Vomiting is a common side effect that often causes EC users to re-visit the doctor because they could not keep the medication down.

Emergency contraception should not be as easily attainable as condoms and spermicides because it is not meant for prevention, it is used in situations where there truly is no other alternative.

Molina goes on to say that she will continue to tell her friends about EC in order to make the drunken “morning after” not so scary when her friends can’t remember who they had sex with, nevermind whether or not they used successful protection. There is a certain scare factor that goes along with the morning after that often helps prevent that type of situation from reoccurring.

EC is something that should be reserved for emergency situations and not used as peace of mind to potentially promote irresponsible behavior. It is not meant to be left by the bedside for use after a night of drunken sex. Although this type of misuse is a concern in the medical community regarding EC, overuse is also a major issue. I’ve seen doctors write prescriptions for EC with refills. When I first saw this, I thought maybe he was giving the patient refills just in case she vomited up the first dose and could easily refill the prescription for another. But then less than a month or so later, the same patient called into the pharmacy for a refill for her EC. She hadn’t learned her lesson and allowed herself to fall into the same dangerous situation of a potential unplanned pregnancy. This type of misuse and overuse is why doctors don’t openly advertise for EC, not because they want to keep EC a secret.

Any responsible physician will prescribe EC if the situation presents itself. So, in the future, always be sure to take your medical advice from a qualified physician and not from an opinion piece submitted by a philosophy major.

-Mike McDonough is a sixth

year pharmacy major.