Buying over-the-counter EC (Plan B)

I had an incredibly empowering experience yesterday: I bought EC over the counter within blocks from my house. I figure that since I’m sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, I should have some EC on hand. Why wait for an emergency!

I live in Queens, New York City, and didn’t imagine there would be a problem. There wasn’t. It took two stops. The first pharmacy, a small family-owned pharmacy three blocks from my building, didn’t have it. But in the second pharmacy I tried, a Duane Reade just about eight blocks from my building, I was able to purchase it, and even had a lovely conversation with the pharmacist. I have decided now to do a survey of all pharmacies in my neighborhood. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I was required to show ID to demonstrate that I am at least 18 (she can’t possibly have thought that I wasn’t, but she seemed as if she was making it clear she was following the rules). And then I asked something I’d been wondering ever since selling EC over the counter became a possibility: “Would a man be able to buy this?” The pharmacist looked at me for a moment, puzzled, and then said “That’s a great question. You know, I’m sure soon we’ll be selling it to anyone. This is a huge improvement over what we’ve had in the past.”

I asked the question because it seems to me that if I were a guy having sex with women and not wanting to get anyone pregnant I’d want to know that I had something on hand in case a condom broke. I’d feel awful and would want to be able to offer my partner something right away.

So here is a challenge to any brave men out there who live in places where EC is being sold over the counter: Walk in to a pharmacy that stocks it and ask if you can buy some. It costs about $40. You might have to show ID. But try it. And then email me to let me know what happens. Or post your experience as a comment below.

For those who are not yet able to buy EC in their neighborhoods, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and the Tennessee Guerilla Women have both pointed out that individuals can buy up to three packets on

Male or female, if you’re sexually active and could create a pregnancy but don’t want to, I highly recommend buying a packet so you can do as Planned Parenthood recommends, and “back up your birth control.”


Filed under Gender, public discourse, sex, sex and health, sexuality

5 responses to “Buying over-the-counter EC (Plan B)

  1. Pingback: Enemy of Entropy - Purposefully perverse since 1995! » Have you bought emergency contraception?

  2. Anon PharmD

    At this point in time, I will not be selling to males. The reason being, I cannot be assured that it will not be given to women under 17 years old. I know that even sold to a positively ID’d woman over 17 I still cannot be assured that it is for the woman buying the contraceptive, but I’ll still be following the rules. In our country where the Right to Life v the Pro-Choice side is such a viscious fight, I’m doing everything in my power to assure the public that the sale of this medication is being taken seriously and is being handled in the utmost serious manner. There is no way I’m giving anyone any ammunition to take this away from us. What a wonderful world we live in, where this is available 24/7 from pharmacies all over the country!!!

  3. Thank you, Anon, for your honesty and your openness. I’m concerned that the linking of emergency contraception to people’s position on abortion (you reference the abortion debate) has clouded this issue and made it seem much more controversial than it needed to be.

    As a pharmacist I am sure that you take the sale of all medicines seriously. And I understand your concern that if the rules aren’t followed the drug could be taken away.

    I hope we continue to push for EC to be made available to younger women, and that we find a way to make it available to men who want to be responsible and prepared for an emergency.

    Thanks for your comment.

  4. Pingback: Viviane’s Sex Carnival » Blog Archive » Buying over-the-counter EC (Plan B)

  5. Mu Mu

    i am a male and i recently had to purchase ec due to contraceptive failure and my partner was too embarassed to go/ go with me. I went to a total of 8 pharmacies mostly walgreens a rite-aide.

    When I asked for it the first time immediate response was: huh? I asked if they carried emergency contraception. Immediatly followed with a : No. Not even a second look. maybe they didnt carry it maybe they didnt want to sell it to me but i had to move on.

    Then i thought maybe i should ask in the name morning after pill, i got better responses. But for the next 6 places were out of stock or didnt carry it i was reffered to the 24 hour walgreens pharmacy they also didnt have it.

    I got tired of going in after that so i started to use the drive through option and went to a few more to no avail. Then the day after i finally found a pharmacy that had it in stock while looking on my lunch break from work. I had to show id and come in and i deeply expressed my grattitude to the attendant.