Over-the-counter sales of Plan B put teens at risk
Ignoring the essential role of a physician in treating teenagers and dispensing active chemicals is the major problem with unrestricted over-the-counter use of the morning-after pill for all ages, a policy that a federal judge in Brooklyn, Edward R. Korman, has now approved. (The pill was first made nonprescription for those 18 and older, until a ruling by the same judge lowered the limit to 17.) Most doctors believe all females who are sexually active should visit a gynecologist regularly to screen them for HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. It is especially important to begin screening the youngest females. It is during these visits that a gynecologist can openly discuss the reasons the preteen is sexually active, who the partners are, and the need for condom use. If necessary, the doctor can also authorize a supply of morning-after pills while explaining more effective ways of birth control.
Since the morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step and its generic counterparts, disrupts the menstrual cycle, it increases the likelihood that a young teen will become pregnant and not know it. It can cause significant bleeding if the drug is used to excess. This is particularly problematic in a young woman who is likely to have irregular menstrual periods to begin with. A good doctor can monitor these side effects and advise the patient on how to treat them.