By Regina Simone
Holiday fête season can give the best of us a run from the weight scales, which is why the packaging revision of NorLevo, the European version of Plan B manufactured by HRA-Pharma, updated to note that it’s not always effective for women over 165 pounds and doesn’t work at all for women who weigh more than 176 pounds, is just a little more depressing for those seeking emergency contraception.
Yes, one may be quick to note that it’s the European version, but as reported by Jezebel (via Mother Jones) a 2011 study at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland stated “the risk of pregnancy was more than threefold greater for obese women compared with women with normal body mass index, whichever EC [Emergency Contraception] was taken.” The key point being that the “risk of pregnancy was particularly high if that emergency contraception was made of levonorgestrel, the same hormone found in many of the major over-the-counter morning after pills sold in the United States, like Plan B One-Step.”
So last week, I came across this article with a woman’s before and after photo side by side (below), where she weighed exactly the same in both but was obviously more toned and fit in the after photo. As a frame of reference, this women at 5’6 and 163 pounds, is considered 13 pounds shy of what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) considers obese (5’4 at 174 pounds is considered obese, for example), and at 2 pounds shy of 165 pounds, may not be a good candidate for using NorLevo because she’s considered nearly ‘overweight.’
Again, it’s just a frame of reference when applying CDC guidelines. Here we are, learning the number on the scale doesn’t matter, when it does–scientifically speaking, anyway. It seems a woman weighing at least 165 pounds, whether she is fit for her weight or not, is the determining factor of effectiveness of the emergency contraception pill, regardless of what the CDC or its European counterpart considers to be overweight or obese. It hasn’t been determined yet if the US will be relabeling its packaging.
So what’s a (165 pounds or more) girl to do? The study recommended that “overweight women use IUDs.” Then again, there’s the increasingly popular ‘pulling-out.’ Either way, with the emergency contraception pill or ‘withdrawal method,’ effectiveness is a gamble. So weigh your options carefully.
UPDATE: On a related, yet disturbing attempt at a marketing spin, PETA has used the weight ineffectiveness of Plan B to promote a vegan diet so women can lose weight to increase the pill’s effectiveness. Click here for more.
Regina Simone is a freelance writer, blogger in New York City via Texas. She has written for Bust Magazine, 002Houston Magazine, and various sites. She loves anything to do with and loves to do anything with Women’s interest, yoga, fashion, food and travel. google+, twitter