Morning-after pill only works if you take it

A study finds that an advanced supply of emergency contraception alone doesn't do much good to prevent pregnancy

Published March 17, 2010 11:01AM (EDT)

When it comes to pregnancy prevention, there are certain solutions that seem obvious: Spread the word about safe sex, make contraception easily accessible and arm women with back up measures like Plan B. But, according to a recent study, giving women an advanced supply of the morning-after pill doesn't help prevent pregnancies.

The Cochrane Group, a U.K.-based non-profit, looked at 11 international trials involving a total of more than 7,500 women and found that having a stash of emergency contraception didn't have any impact on pregnancy rates. The women weren't any more likely or any less likely to get pregnant. It goes against common sense -- you would think, as many reproductive policy wonks have argued, that preparedness is key. But the BBC explains the laughably obvious: "The policy fails if women choose not to take the pills." Why did they choose not to take the pills? Now that's a question for another study.

The important thing to note, though, is that the advanced morning-after supply didn't noticeably influence women's sexual behavior. They didn't throw caution, and their clothes, to the wind and have reckless romps with tons of random men. They weren't any more likely to have unprotected sex or to catch an STD. Allowing women to be prepared in case of a condom breaking or a drunken mistake will not, as some conservatives fear, encourage a descent into sexual immorality and chaos. Just for the record.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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