Real Women On Why They Chose To Take Plan B

Designed by Louisa Cannell.
As much as we may not like to admit it, we can't plan for everything in life. This holds particularly true when it comes to sex and dating. No matter if we're right-swipe buddies, FWB, exclusive, or on the way to marriage, road bumps are bound to happen — and with them, a variety of emotions that can leave us scared of the unknown.
For our 29Rooms Chicago event, we partnered with Plan B One-Step to explore the true stories of why women use Plan B. Ahead, nine women detail their intimate, empowering, and oftentimes emotional experiences. The takeaway? Life is full of uncertain moments, and though we can't always prepare ourselves for them, we can take control of our futures.
1 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 36

Location: San Francisco, CA

Occupation: Production manager

“It was the summer of 2001, between my freshman and sophomore years, and I was back home staying with my mom [while] working on the Air Force base. I wound up dating this guy who was a year younger than me, and I decided to finally take the plunge and get on birth control. I wasn't a virgin; I had just used condoms in the past. So I made an appointment with the OB on base and got the birth control shot. No biggie. They told me it would take about a week for it to take effect, so I should keep using condoms in the meantime. No biggie. That night, the damn condom broke. I called the OB first thing the following morning and made an appointment. I got there, and when the middle-aged male doctor saw why I was there, he said something like, ‘I guess you just couldn't wait, could you?’ [He was] basically implying that I was a dumb child who didn't know how condoms/birth control/sex works. I was so taken aback. I just sat there, red faced and angry. Slut shaming aside, he wrote me a prescription [for Plan B] — it wasn’t available over the counter at that time. I followed the instructions, and I didn't get pregnant.

“I have ZERO regrets. I was 19, in college, and that guy was not father or husband material. A few years later I had a similar condom-breaking experience. This time I went to my then-regular OB, where there were no side-eye shenanigans. Easy, breezy. Never ever feel bad or ashamed about using Plan B, especially now that it's available over the counter without a prescription. It’s your body, your future.”
2 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 35

Location: Dallas, TX

Occupation: Unlisted

“There’s nothing worse to hear during safe, consensual sex than, ‘The condom broke,’ but I’ve heard it twice. The first time, I was a 19-year-old college student at a private university. I was not yet on the pill, and I was casually dating someone who very clearly freaked out about the accident. He insisted I make an appointment at Planned Parenthood for the morning after pill, but we lived an hour apart from each other, so my best friend went with me. I knew at 19 that I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I had three more years of college, and I most certainly would have ended up a single parent. But I also remember feeling like this person was the puppeteer and pulling all the strings and that it was something we should have done together. I was a different person then, afraid to say what I wanted or express my true feelings.

“Flash forward 16 years. I’m 35 and having some really great sex with a person that I really like. But things were new, we weren’t in a fully committed relationship, and we had only been seeing each other for about a month. So when I heard, ‘I'm really, really sorry, but I think the condom broke,’ I tried to assure him. ‘I think it's okay. I don't think I'm ovulating, and accidents happen.’ But I was nervous. I [had] gone back on the pill but only three days prior. The next day came, and I decided to get Plan B One-Step on my way to work.

“I love that I can get this over the counter now. The choice is mine, it’s easy, and it’s accessible. [It’s] better to be safe than sorry. Again, I’m not ready for a child. I’m living in a city where it’s hard to make ends meet, where it’s hard to support just myself. I called my partner to let him know [I took] the extra precaution, because neither of us are ready to become parents. The relief in his voice was palpable. What a difference some years and maturity make. And can I just say, to make the decision myself was empowering.”
3 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 28

Location: Potomac, MD

Occupation: Copywriter

“I was 17, and he was my first boyfriend — my virginity-taking, motorcycle-riding boyfriend who I started dating in July and sleeping with in August. It was the summer before I went away to college, so I was living at home and he still lived at home. We typically had sex anywhere we could get away with it: in the woods, on the hood of his dad's tiny convertible, on the roof of the mall parking garage, in his parents' basement at 2 a.m.

“After one late-night sofa romp, I panicked. He had a condom on, but so what? Condoms don't [always] work. I was young and fertile, and he's the exact guy I should NOT have a baby with. So I assumed I was 100% going to get pregnant. I probably wasn’t, but I honestly have to look back at 17-year-old me and have compassion for her. The next morning, I woke up my older brother and begged him for a favor: Could he buy me Plan B? And by the way, his precious baby sister is a virgin no more. We drove to the local Target, waiting for the doors to open. He bought the pill while I sat in the car bargaining with Jesus. I bought him a breakfast sandwich from Wawa. After, I couldn't bring myself to burden my Catholic mother with the guilt of a sexually active daughter. I took myself to the gyno and started taking hormonal birth control pills, because nothing could've convinced 17-year-old me on the effectiveness of condoms. Still, I’m glad I had Plan B. Because you never know.”
4 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 26

Location: Chicago, IL

Occupation: Business analyst/accounting professional

“I was in love with my boyfriend. In. Love. Obsessed. Too obsessed. And then he broke up with me. The next few months after the breakup dragged on, and I lost 15 pounds from stress. I lost my mind, too. This was my first breakup, and it was a fast, hard, take-your-breath-away, stop-your-brain-gears sort of life experience I never could have expected.

“Four months later, I started a new job. At this point, I was still going through days when I was crippled with grief about the breakup. I still hadn’t stopped looking at my ex’s Facebook profile every day to see if he had a new girlfriend yet. My very first day, I was introduced to a team of people I was going to be working with — and he caught my eye (let’s call him P). That week, we all went out for happy hour, and P unknowingly sat next to me, the girl who had been sneaking peeks at him all week.

“Fast forward: I was in a cab with him on the way to his apartment. We got upstairs, and I froze. I hesitated. My brain stopped processing all stimuli. It was amazing and felt very ‘bad’ but so, so freeing. I never thought about my ex, not once. I also didn’t think about protection. Everything went away, until the next morning when we had to wake up and go to work. I was still wearing last night’s clothes and had no way of getting home in time to change. I freaked out because I realized I had stopped taking my birth control recently. So on my way to work, I stopped to get enough new clothes to make my outfit seem like not-yesterday’s, and I stopped at the drugstore to grab Plan B to make sure my baby would be not-his. Then, I went to work. A pregnancy would have been the last thing I needed, but the sex was the most healing part of my journey toward reconciling with my breakup. It might not be the same for every woman, but this was the most pivotal U-turn that brought me back to life.”
5 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 29

Location: Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Analyst, project manager at a nonprofit

Her Side: “We met in Atlanta my sophomore year of college, and we were annoyingly — but beautifully — so, so in love. Looking back, we were probably unbearable. A couple years after graduation, we were still together. It was just after winter break, and I had forgotten to pick up my prescription for my birth control — for like four days. We all forget things. I’m human. I just remember being beyond excited to see him after break, and I ran like a crazy person to meet him after his band session. We went back to my room and slept together. It was when I got a call from my pharmacy soon after that I even realized I had forgotten to take my birth control. I felt like an idiot and also, strangely enough, felt anxious about going to the store and getting Plan B. It was my first time taking it. I didn’t hesitate at all to tell my partner, and the magic of that moment was that he didn’t hesitate for a second. He was just like, ‘So WE need to go get Plan B,’ like it was something that was for the both of us and just as much his responsibility as mine. We did go together: went to the drugstore, got the pill, split the cost, and kept it moving. It’s not the last time I’ve taken Plan B, but I’ll never forget that time.”

His Side: “I love that she remembers [the story] this way. I honestly don’t know or remember exactly if it was later in spring or right after being home for the holidays. [But I do know] I hadn’t seen her in a minute, because we were so hyped to see each other. We were definitely at her place. She called me, panicked, to tell me that she had forgotten to take her birth control. At first, I was actually fairly nervous, but then [I was] pretty calm. It was my second time being in a situation where my girlfriend needed to take Plan B. The first time I was in high school, and I just hid from it and her. I didn’t go with her or even really talk to her about it before or after. When I was younger, I definitely subconsciously thought birth control (and anything in that realm) was something women take care of. [This time,] we went to get Plan B together, and it was totally fine.”
6 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 33

Location: Chicago, IL

Occupation: Director of marketing and business development

“I have taken Plan B a few times. On a certain level, I have known all my life that I did not want kids of my own. As my life has progressed, I've reconfirmed this with certainty. I really enjoy (most) other people's kids, but I have never felt the desire to have my own brood of kids at home.

“My high-school boyfriend and I were very much in ‘young love’ for many, many years. One time, our condom broke. I was extremely freaked out. I wasn't sure if that meant I would be pregnant or not, but I knew a few things: (1) I had both long- and short-term plans for my education and career that would be impacted by having a child in high school. (2) I wasn't confident that I was going to be with this man for the rest of my life, and I did not want having a child to influence decisions in my love life. One of my goals has always been to find an amazing partner to share my life with, and I did not want to compromise on that. And (3) I did not want to be a parent but also didn't think I could give up a baby if I carried it for nine months. For these reasons, I took Plan B.

“More than 15 years later, I can say that I am grateful that I made that decision. I’ve done many things I planned to do and more. I’ve found an amazing, loving partner who is NOT my high school sweetheart who shares my feelings about parenting, and I could not be happier with my life. While I know I would have had a great life even if things had gone differently, I’m happy that I had that choice to make. I encourage any woman who is facing the same decision to think about taking Plan B and make the choice, with confidence, that’s right for them.”
7 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 30

Location: West Haven, CT

Occupation: Operations coordinator

Trigger warning: This story contains sensitive content regarding sexual assault.

“For me, the decision to not get pregnant was a no-brainer. Nearly 14 hours prior, I had been the victim of sexual assault. I’d fallen asleep slightly tipsy, thinking the guy I’d spent the night talking to was a decent person. My attacker assaulted me while I was unconscious, and once I’d awoken, I immediately tore myself away. I had fallen asleep at a rugby party in a town 45 minutes away from home, because my designated driver didn’t take the designated part of her responsibility very seriously. I hesitated to report it, [but I] spilled the beans to my mother the next day. I couldn’t look her in the eye over breakfast and immediately burst into tears.

“The experience in the waiting room at the hospital to have a rape kit completed was agonizing. I was taken to a private waiting room due to the sensitivity of my situation, but there were other people seated there as well. A man waiting for a family member left me with my head between my legs rocking with my hands over my ears, because the sound of him just breathing in my presence was too much. I didn’t have much relief once they found a bed. I couldn’t stop shaking. Before they began the exam, I was given two pills. One [was] an anti-HIV pill and the other was Plan B. The weight of the situation really hit me. There was no way I would risk my health or future. I had only been out of college for a year, and I was still living at home with my parents. It was unthinkable to me to even consider having a child. It was not the life I could have even begun to imagine for myself. I have absolutely no regrets over taking Plan B. It was, by far, one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.”

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
8 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 25

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Occupation: Events and partnerships associate for a nonprofit organization

“When I was 17, I made the decision to take Plan B. Being that I am a borderline hypochondriac with anxiety, the thought of having a baby at 17 was terrifying, and the thought of telling my mom was even more so. But the condom broke, and there was no way I was going to take Plan B without telling my mom. I was so afraid that the pill would interfere with my other daily medication, so I had to bite the bullet and tell her.

“I had just gotten home from dance class when I realized my 72-hour window to take emergency contraception was dwindling. I grabbed my mom, pulled her into my bedroom, threw my blanket over my head so I looked like a makeshift ghost, and told her, ‘I had sex! The condom broke! I needed Plan B!’ She went into full mom-mode, doing research on the pill as well as its effects — all while trying to process that her kid just told her she had lost her virginity. She told my dad that her and I were going for a ride. She took me to a 24-hour drug store, and I took the pill in the parking lot. Afterwards, she took me to get a burger and fries, and we left it at that. A few weeks later, the condom broke again. I knew how easy it was to use and that there were no side effects, so I had a friend purchase it for me. I am beyond grateful that Plan B was available to me and that I have such a supportive mom who didn't judge me and was on my side when I needed her the most. [At the time, I was] a senior in high school, preparing to go away to college, and the last thing I needed to worry about was a pregnancy.”

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
9 of 9
Designed by Louisa Cannell.
Age: 25

Location: New York, NY

Occupation: Photographer

“I was in Vermont for the first time with my now ex-boyfriend. It was a cabin-in-the-woods scene with a side of quick lovemaking. I'm not sure why we woke up that day choosing not to be careful, but after I cleaned myself up and watched him fall back asleep, I knew the day would go on with this screaming thought in my mind: I need to get Plan B.

“Twenty-four hours later, I was back in New Jersey to house sit. Luckily, there was a drugstore across the street for a perfect and easy way to get Plan B. I walked in with a confident plan to grab the thing and get out. Finally, from afar, I could see a shelf stocked up with light-purpleish boxes. When I started to briskly walk towards the shelf, I stopped and noticed the most horrible clear acrylic plastic cage.

“I searched for an employee close by and found someone on the floor fixing boxes of toothpaste. I asked her, ‘Hi, can you help get Plan B, please?’ She responded with a surprised shaky voice, ‘You have to ask the front.’ I walked to the front of the store, saw a woman cashier, and asked again. She replied with a full-on eye stare, ‘You have to ask someone on aisle 30.’ After hearing that, I quickly turned around and wandered to aisle 30 where I found another woman employee. With my final obviously antsy question, she gave me a nod, and I followed her to the cage (I hate that some drugstores still put it behind a security cage) where she pulled out the trusty key and granted my request. The entire staff knew what I needed that day. If I was my younger self, I would’ve felt shy and in the wrong with all of the stares and weird body language. But I’m a grown woman. I felt comfortable asking and insisting. I was determined. I paid for the pill, thanked the cashier, and grabbed my bag with a smile.

“No matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable a drugstore can make you feel, take action for what your gut tells you. Since you are the one that knows yourself best, it will be the right choice. The following week, I got my well-deserved period, and I felt great.”

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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