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It's complicated, but I can't bear to see a doctor to get EC. What do I do?

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Anonymous asks:

I am in my early 20s and recently had to stop taking the contraceptive pill because of a medical reason. Now that I am medically ok again, I planned to re-start the pill at some point this week. However, me and my BF of 2 yrs got drunk last night at a party and stupidly had unprotected sex. I am too embarrassed to go to a doctor and ask for a Plan B pill I have heard that if I take two contraceptive pills now (or asap) then it acts in the same way a morning after pill does...is this true?

Heather Corinna replies:

(Jane's question, continued) What we did was very irresponsible I understand that and since I was 17 I've been very careful with these things because at age 17 I fell pregnant WHILE taking the pill correctly. My then BF made me have an abortion. He took my by the hand and had it all arranged. I never had an option because I lived with him and was very reliant upon him. Although I come from an awesome family who would have supported me I wanted my mom to be proud of me so even after the event, I have never told her. I was very emotionally hurt by it and since then was always worried that I might not be able to even get pregnant (I heard thats possible when you have an abortion?)

It's been some years since the abortion and I have completed university and got my degree making my family very proud of me- HOWEVER I have a fear/ inner anxiety about seeing doctors regarding sex issues because it reminds me of that day. I therefore cannot face seeing a doctor to get a morning after pill for this latest risk I've taken. I don't want them to lecture me, but I also don't want to be pregnant. This is such a mess. If I am pregnant, I couldn't deal with another abortion so would have to have the baby.

If this does lead to me becoming pregnant, me and my bf were meant to be traveling to Japan for 2months due to his work. Would this still be a possibility as I would by then be 3months pregnant (what are the procedures for pregnant women flying etc?)

Jane, before I say anything else, let me say that I am tremendously sorry that you were coerced into an abortion by a partner which you did not want. As well, abortion clinics are generally VERY responsible about making sure that it is the woman in question making the choice to abort. Now, you may have simply signed the consents yourself and told them convincingly it was your choice (in which case it would have been disrespectful for the clinic to question you), but in the case your consent was not actively sought by your clinic, know that you were done wrong by both that clinic and this ex. Every reproductive choice for a woman should be exactly that, a choice, and I can certainly understand how that experience would make all of this so much more difficult for you, and why you'd have a tough time considering abortion again.

Given your age, you do not have to see a doctor to get emergency contraception. You can get it over the counter from any pharmacy or sexual or general health clinic now, and your boyfriend could even get it for you -- a simple favor which sounds like it might be a big help for you right now. Since he made a choice to have unprotected sex, too, it's the least he could do for you, the person who really has to deal with the actual risk. Using birth control pills for EC is also an option, but only with some pills, not all of them.

A doctor should not lecture you in seeking out EC, so that you know that for future reference. That isn't to say all doctors abide by that code of ethics, but all agree to and most do.

Know that there is not nor has there ever been any medical data or evidence to show that abortion changes your ability to become pregnant: safe, legal abortion does not usually present that risk, so if a time comes when you do want to become pregnant and become a parent, your abortion won't have removed that option for you. You are also going to want to try and find a way to be able to start seeing someone for your sexual and reproductive health: that's just to assure you stay healthy. So, I'd encourage you to talk to a few doctors in the field of reproductive health to find one where you can feel comfortable: you might even tell one or two your story before having an actual exam and see if you connect with any of them. Chances are good you won't have to shop around too much before you find one who is sympathetic. After all, an awful lot of women in the world are in abusive or dysfunctional partnerships, and many healthcare providers are aware of the problem and have sympathy or empathy.

So, go ahead and either go get that EC yourself, or have your boyfriend get a pack for you. Just don't wait on this: you have up to 120 hours after a risk to take it, but the sooner you do, the more likely it is to be effective.

Per your last question, in the event you cannot get the EC and become pregnant, or it does not work, flying in early pregnancy is fine. It's for women who are getting close to delivery -- in their third trimester -- that flying is often not advised. Just also know that in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, all your options -- abortion, adoption, parenting -- would still be open to you, and that in a situation where any choice you made was really your choice, any of those choices would be okay, and your experience making any of them in a situation where it's 100% up to you would/will likely be different than you're envisioning now, based only on your past experience.

One last thing? You're cutting yourself down in this post.

We all don't always make smart choices, and that's just life. We're human, and human beings are fallible and flawed. It happens. It's when we get in a pattern of making poor choices that we have a big problem, or if we don't keep learning from our not-so-great choices. You and your boyfriend -- remember, he could have made a different choice, too, so this isn't all on you -- did something that put you at risk of something you didn't want to be at risk of. That sucks, but it also is done with now. Put your energy into your damage control here, not into giving yourself a hard time about it. And if you're feeling guilt or shame about what happened in your teens, either with the abortion or with getting stuck with a controlling partner, let those things go, too. It sounds like you're in a spot to make a pretty great life for yourself, with some serious accomplishments under your belt. Focus on those, not on things you can't change now or which weren't even your fault or choice in the first place.

I'm tossing a few extra links your way, and throwing in a hug for good measure:

written 06 Apr 2008 . updated 27 Jan 2014

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