There’s a dangerous rumor going around about birth control lately– that taking an extra birth control pill will act as emergency contraception if you don’t want to use a condom. And it just isn’t true.
Emergency contraception, like Plan B One-Step, is just a very large dose of the same hormone in hormonal birth control. That part of the rumor is true. However, it’s not as simple as taking an extra pill or two.
Most hormonal birth control is generally made up of the same two hormones in varying dosages which are picked out by your doctor. Plan B One-Step is a single dose that is a single quantity of the hormone which will immediately introduce the hormone into your system and prevent a possible insemination. The Yuzpe Regimen is designed as an alternative for those who cannot access emergency contraception.
Basically, you take a certain amount of normal hormonal birth control and it acts the same as if you had taken Plan B One-Step, or another form of emergency contraception. This process was formulated in the 1970’s by a Canadian OB/GYN, Dr. A. Albert Yuzpe.
In the United States, it’s legal to use birth control pills this way, however it is not one of the lists uses on the package. Also, the number of pills and the method for taking them is also not listed on the package. So if you do need to use this route, you will need to find out the particulars of your pills from a reliable source. While many places on the internet lists the correct dosage for different pills, the internet is not considered to be a reliable source in the matter.
This is a general guide provided by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals:
You should never use the Yuzpe Regimen without your doctor’s supervision. Additionally, like emergency contraception, it should never be relied upon and only used in cases of extreme emergency. Taking Plan B One-Step, or mifepristone, or adhering to a stricter form of birth control (hormonal or barrier methods) is easier to calculate and is more effective. Plus, the Yuzpe Regimen is well-known for causing nausea and all manner of other extreme symptoms.
Now that anyone of any age and gender in the United States can get their hands on Plan B One-Step, the Yuzpe Regimen has fallen out of use for the most part. It’s simply an easier way to do things. But if you are in a situation where this simply isn’t possible– whether you don’t live near a pharmacy, are unable to access one for whatever reason, you think Plan B One-Step won’t work for you, or unable to afford Plan B One-Step or generic alternatives– it’s good to know that the Yuzpe regimen is out there in case there are no other options.
Remember, like all forms of hormonal birth control emergency or otherwise, the Yuzpe Regimen will not protect you from STDs. For that, you’ll need a barrier method, such as a condom. We know a thing or two about condoms here.