Last spring, the University of California Davis study room updated their vending machine. Instead of chips and sodas, it offers condoms, tampons, pregnancy tests, Advil, and the morning after pill, or Plan B. They call it the “Wellness To Go” Machine.
Colleges across the country are offering immediate access to the morning-after-pill to reduce the difficulty of obtaining the intervention. Plan B and its generics are over-the-counter medications, but it can be hard for students to get them in time. University health centers are typically closed on weekends, when Plan B is often needed the most.
The vending machines are designed to cut out the middleman — a campus pharmacy or health center — by providing students with direct access to emergency contraception. This will maintain students’ privacy and circumvent the need to request the morning-after pill from a pharmacist.
Plan B, the morning-after pill, is higher dose of the synthetic hormone found in birth control pills. It works by delaying the release of an egg from the ovary. To take effect, it should be taken within 24-72 hours of unprotected sex, but 24 hours is best.
And the idea is spreading beyond campuses. The Sunshine Laundromat in Brooklyn has an arcade, a bar and a vending machine stocked with Plan B, lube and an assortment of pregnancy tests. Just in case.