This post was created in collaboration with Plan B One-Step®. All personal opinions and thoughts within this post are my own, and I have changed the names and withheld some personal information to protect the identity of my client.
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As soon as I heard her voice, I knew something was up. We’d been working together for a few weeks and by then, we had created a mini ritual where, before we started our sessions, we had a quick exchange of what we had been up to since we last spoke—how our weekend was, what the ever-fluctuating weather was like in the Bay area, how her dogs were doing. But this time, she wasn’t interested in the niceties. She wanted to get straight into the session. (To protect her privacy as I retell this story, I’ll call my client Samira.)
I asked Samira what was going on, and she hesitated. Eventually, in a quiet voice told me she had done something she wasn’t proud of.
“I had sex with Paul,” she said.
I was confused. Paul was her partner of three years and they’d been going through some challenges in their sexual relationship. It was one of the reasons Samira hired me as her sexuality doula—they weren’t having sex. I thought she would be excited to have broken the dry spell in her sex life and I began telling her I was glad she and her partner reconnected again when she interrupted me.
“Oh no, it’s not that,” Samira said. “I’m glad we had sex too and we’ve been feeling more connected to each other because of it. It’s just that. . .” And here, she paused again. I gently encouraged her to tell me what was really going on and when she spoke she spoke quickly, not wanting to linger over the words.
“Like I said, we were so in the moment with each other that we forgot to use a condom. I feel like I might be at risk of getting pregnant so I had to buy Plan B. I’ve been so bummed about this entire situation that I haven’t even taken it yet.”
And there it was—the source of her feelings: she was disappointed in herself that she thought she had been “irresponsible”, but more than that, she was upset that she needed to take Plan B because of what she viewed as her “mistake”. We spent the rest of the session unpacking that feeling and I gave her my two cents on the matter.
What I told her:
As a human with sexual energy, I’ll confess that there’ve been many times where I’ve found myself at the mercy of my raging hormones, where I knew that unprotected sex with my partner would put me at risk for an unintended pregnancy, and I engaged in that act of sex anyway because we got caught up in the moment. And those moments happen sometimes, which is precisely why I’m so grateful that Plan B emergency contraception exists. Plan B works to help prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation, and it’s a safe, easy, and accessible backup option if you have unprotected sex or your birth control fails.
For Samira, I encouraged her to not be hard on herself and to instead feel grateful that she has this as an option for her reproductive health. I also suggested that she find a consistent birth control method to lessen her chances of this happening again, since Plan B should not be used as regular birth control. No matter what, it’s super important to have a “Plan A.”
“I want you to have the best sex of your life and really allow yourself to get lost in the pleasure of it,” I told her. “I don’t want your worries of possibly getting pregnant to keep you from enjoying sex with your partner. That’s the whole point of sex, after all.”
One reason Samira hadn’t taken Plan B yet was that she had heard some things about it that were making her hesitant. “I heard that you get pretty sick when you take it,” she said. Another concern of hers: That it would mess with her chances of getting pregnant in the future.
I could understand her concerns. It’s hard to feel comfortable making a decision regarding your sexual and reproductive health when you don’t know the facts—especially if you have incorrect information about it or you heard people saying they had a bad experience. I’m not a medical professional, but I did address Samira’s concerns by telling her the facts.
For one thing, Plan B doesn’t impact future or long-term fertility, and it does not hurt a person’s chance of getting pregnant in the future. And as for Samira’s fear of the side effects: there are side effects that some people may experience— including dizziness, nausea, headache. You can read about them on the label. But everybody is different and in Samira’s case, I suggested that she consider taking the next day off of work to mitigate any anxiety she was feeling.
But the most important information I gave her was this: Plan B should be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex or birth control failure, and the sooner it’s taken the better it works.
At the end of our session, I sent her a link to the Plan B FAQs resource page with the message “Knowledge is power, babe”—because it is. When you dispel some of those myths and educate yourself, you’re able to feel more confident about moving forward. And ultimately, Samira was enough so, that she took the pill right away.
Of all the things I said in that session, I think this was the one Samira was least expecting to hear from me. But it was true. I was proud of her for being courageous enough to process her feelings in real time and making the smart decision to purchase and use Plan B after unprotected sex. I was proud of her for being willing to challenge some of the hard feelings that were coming up for her as she did that processing. But I was especially proud of her for taking her reproductive health into her own hands. She, of course, hadn’t thought of it in that way until I mentioned it, but here’s what I felt about it:
“In a culture that criticizes women for taking control of their reproductive health, you are being proactive about your sexual wellness,” I told her near the end of our session. “The fact that you’re prioritizing your reproductive health in a way that aligns with the future you’ve envisioned with yourself, and the fact that you’re being honest with yourself about what you need to do to take care of yourself . . . that, to me, is sexual liberation.”
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When and if you need to use Plan B One-Step, always read the label.
© 2020 Ev'Yan Whitney / All rights reserved.