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The morning after


As an 18-year-old college student, I'm still a teen affected by "invincibility syndrome." Of course I mocked the "nothing could happen to me" outlook because I didn't think I had it. But I was infected when it came to sex. I never considered that anything could go wrong--and then the condom fell off.

Any teenage girl who has experienced failed contraception can relate to the terror I felt as I considered what would happen if I became pregnant. My boyfriend, being the wonderful man he is, spent hours with me discussing the possibilities of having and keeping a baby, putting it up for adoption, or having an abortion. It wasn't until the next day that a friend of mine suggested the "morning after pill."

My boyfriend and I went on Google together and searched "morning after pill." The first site that came up was There's a page that explains how "emergency contraception" works. The first thing it told me was that the pill is an abortion pill, and if I was pregnant it would kill my unborn child. I then read the side effects of the pill; they were listed as follows: "nausea, vomiting, infertility, breast tenderness, ectopic pregnancy (can be life threatening), and blood clot formation." I think at that point my heart leapt out of my throat and ran screaming down the hall. I'm not the type to panic, but my mind was racing with thoughts like "How could I abort something I'm not even sure I created?" "Am I going to put myself in a hospital?" "What's an ectopic pregnancy?" "What if I have one?" and (completely forgetting that I might not actually be pregnant) "Am I going to be killing both the baby and me?"

Fortunately, my boyfriend kept his cool and pointed out that the site seemed to be biased against the pill and might be providing inaccurate information (it's sponsored by an anti-choice group). The next site we visited was an article written by Dr. David Delvin at, which was much more reassuring. It informed us that "emergency contraception" could be used up to 72 hours after having sex, and it's so harmless that in Britain you can get it over the counter. The pill is made of levonorgestrel and works by postponing ovulation or affecting the uterine lining in a way that keeps a fertilized egg from embedding itself there (so, it isn't an abortion pill). The article said that side effects are unusual, but in rare cases one might experience a headache, "tummy ache," breast tenderness, vaginal "spotting" of blood and/or dizziness.

We decided to go to Planned Parenthood to find out more and maybe get the pill. But the woman there handed me a card with a phone number to call. I was to talk to the person at this number, and if we decided I should take the pill, they would fax the prescription over. This made me really uncomfortable. I was scared and wanted to talk to a real person, not a mechanical device with a voice coming from who-knows-where.

The woman on the phone confirmed what I had read on the second site, and I decided to take the pill, which turned out to be two pills. Acquiring them turned out to be surprisingly simple, though it cost $40. I ended up being one of the rare cases who experienced a couple of the symptoms, but they weren't that bad. It turns out my fear of taking the pills was far worse than the actual side effects.

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