Doctors: How much you weigh can change effectiveness of ‘Plan B’ pill

Updated: Aug. 24, 2019 at 10:17 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A new TV show gaining popularity on Hulu is getting credit for educating women about a form of emergency contraception.

Aidy Bryant’s character on ‘Shrill’ discovers the Plan B pill is not as effective for women over a certain weight. Charlotte OBGYN Sarah Pollock at Atrium Health confirms that is true.

“We don’t know why, it might have to do with serum levels, but the weight that we see that it has decreased efficacy, depending on the study, is either 165 or 175,” Pollock says. “So, we like to quote 175 based on the current data.”

With the average weight of American women at 167 pounds, this rules out about half of the female population.

“It’s not on the FDA black box warning; that’s why a lot of people don’t know about it,” Pollock says. “It’s not on the package insert, not a lot of pharmacists know about it..”

Dr. Pollock tells her patients about this. However, the pill is sold over the counter.

Though many doctors see the accessibility of the pill as a positive, many also acknowledge most women do not end up talking with a doctor before buying.

“There are things that are lost when we’re only getting care from the internet,” Pollock says.

She says there are other, more reliable alternatives for women who weigh more than 175, like the prescribed Ella pill she says can work best for women 175-195, or the Copper IUD, which works best for women weighing more than 195.

She encourages women to visit an OBGYN yearly, to cover topics like this.

“The more we educate our patients about it, the more they’re going to understand how it works,” she says.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.