Most women have had that scary moment of a condom breaking – or in the heat the moment no condom being used at all – and the scary question that follows: what if I am pregnant? Thankfully the Plan B pill gives you a second chance to prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of the incident. We caught up with contraception expert Dr. Ashleha Patel to get details on how exactly the pill works and why you should have one in your cabinet.

ESSENCE.COM: So doctor, that dreaded moment happens. The condom breaks. What should a woman do?
The first thing is don’t panic. Keep your wits about you. There is a back up if a condom breaks or pill is missed or a condom isn’t used, Plan B can be taken. It is FDA approved to be taken within 72 hours, 3 days, after an episode of unprotected intercourse. You take the first pill as soon as possible and the second one 12 hours later.

ESSENCE.COM: If you already pregnant this doesn’t help. So what exactly does this pill do?
It prevents ovulation, which stops the egg from falling. It can stop the implantation of an egg in the lining of a uterus. This is not the abortion pill. This is preventive if a pregnancy has not started. The Plan B pill is 88% – 95% effective. The sooner you take it the better and that is the key message. It is over the counter for women 18 and above. It should be in a woman’s drawer, just like we keep our spare key or where our seat belt. Not that we want to crash our car or lose are keys, but we have it there in case. Life happens. This is a back-up method. It’s not as good as all the primary methods like condoms, the pill or the patch. They are 99.5% effective. Just like spare tire the back-up isn’t as good, but great for emergencies.

ESSENCE.COM: Of course there are plenty of home remedies you hear about like Vitamin C pills if you think you could be pregnant right after sex. Any truth to those?
Those are old wives tells. There’s also the little prayer for please let my period come. Women should go to a tested method and not experiment. That can be dangerous and some of the things you might try to not be pregnant can actually be harmful if indeed a pregnancy has happened. It’s better to stick to a method that has been tested and FDA recommend and us that. Wives tales should be saved for stories.

ESSENCE.COM: Any other trends in women’s sexual health?
There is an interest in reproductive health. Many women, especially young women, are trying to move up in their careers or save a little bit because of the economic times ahead of us. They know they don’t want to get pregnant soon. There are very good long term methods out there. There are IUDS. Even for shorter term there are many options including the ring and patch, and pill. What’s wonderful, all of these are very effective when used well. It’s just a question of which one fits your lifestyle and what kind of side effects you like, including if you want a period every month or not. There is something out there for everyone. Women are dealing with a lot of issues all at once and helps with all of them.

Loading the player...