Emergency Contraception Failing Overweight Women?

Emergency Contraception Failing Overweight Women?


Emergency contraception is possibly failing overweight women. Health officials in the United States state they are researching to see if the Plan B morning after contraceptive pill is not as effective in women that weigh over 165 pounds.

There have been millions of women who have taken the morning after pill in order to stop any unwanted pregnancies. In the U.S., the pills are sold to the public as Plan B One-Step in brand name form and they also come in generic varieties.

It was about two weeks ago that health managers in Europe told the makers of the morning after pill that there should be a revision on the label that warns women the pills start losing their potency if a woman weighs more than 165 pounds. It is believed that there is no effectiveness at all if the woman weighs over 176 pounds

A spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that the organization was presently reviewing the scientific information on the issue. The agency would then decide what labeling changes would be approved if warranted. However, under United States federal law, any generic brands are not allowed to change labeling until the brand name product does. Therefore, if any updates are made to Plan B labels, then the generic varieties would do the same.

The backup contraceptives use high amounts of the same female hormone which is also inside regular birth control to stop an egg which might have fertilized from becoming embedded inside the uterus.

If there is found to be an actual weight limit, it will affect numerous would-be users. In America, the average weight for females who are age 20 and over was 166 pounds. This was from a research study done by the CDC.

During the first part of 2013, every type of emergency contraception, in total, had sales of over $60.5 million.

In the United States, Plan B has been a source of controversy since the FDA gave approval for prescription usage back in 1999. In 2006, the FDA decided that the pills would be allowed to be sold over the counter to women who were 18 years and older. It was just this year that the federal courts overrode the Obama administration and stated that the pills could be made available to females of any ages.

The reasoning behind why emergency contraception is possibly less effective for overweight women is unknown, stated an expert in reproductive medicine who works at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Obese women had over three times the chance of becoming pregnant after taking the morning after pill compared with women of a normal body weight.

It is well known, however, that weight does affect the way any drug is metabolized inside the body. That is thought to be the key, although it is not known for sure at this time.

Prior research has also revealed that women who weigh more than 155 pounds have a higher chance of oral contraception failing for them. The drugs take longer to reach the usual concentration levels needed to prevent pregnancy in the blood of obese women. This is compared to the failure rates of normal weight women.

It is recommended that any overweight women who might start to worry over the pill’s effectiveness use emergency contraception¬†such as a copper IUD. Intrauterine devices are inserted by a doctor and can be used up to five days after unprotected sex to help avert an unwanted pregnancy.

No woman should be relying only on emergency contraception to avoid pregnancy. This is not safe, and very ineffective. The best way to stop the chance of unwanted pregnancies among sexually active women is to use an effective birth control on a consistent basis. A woman can discover the best method for her by discussing her options with her physician. By doing so, there will be less need for emergency contraception and the chance of it failing overweight women or any women for that matter.


By Kimberly Ruble

The Wall Street Journal

The Examiner



One Response to "Emergency Contraception Failing Overweight Women?"

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