"Slut Pills" Would Work Best for Women Who Don't Have Lots of Sex

What Women Really Think
Aug. 12 2013 2:09 PM

"Slut Pills" Would Work Best for Women Who Don't Have Lots of Sex

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Pericoital contraception would be something in between Plan B and the once-a-day pill

Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The birth control pill puts women in control of their own pregnancy prevention, and it allows us to enjoy more sexual spontaneity. You just take a pill regularly and then are free to have sex when you see fit. Of course, as Kat Stoeffel at the Cut writes, some people have never completely grasped that the amount of pill you take doesn't correlate to the amount of sex you're having. This led famously to Rush Limbaugh concluding that if someone needs insurance coverage for their pills, she must be swallowing pills by the handful to keep up with all the sex. Now, to make things even more complicated, Stoeffel explains, we may soon be getting the "slut pills" that Limbaugh imagined already existed—pills that you only take when you've had sex:

Over the past few years, enthusiasm and interest has been growing among doctors for a real-life slut pill. They call it pericoital contraception, a pill you take around the time you have sex, if and when you have sex. A lower dosage of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, it was used with some popularity in Asia and Eastern Europe in the eighties. In 2011, an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists literature review concluded that pericoital birth control was “moderately effective” (more effective than condoms) and called for more rigorous research. Before its call for a better condom, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to a group planning for clinical trials of a pericoital pill. The latest, published in Contraception last month (h/t Steph Herold) found the majority of the women who visited abortion or family-planning clinics would be interested in pericoital birth control, especially those who have had trouble accessing birth control or have unprotected sex regularly.
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This so-called "slut pill" would be something in between the once-a-day regime of birth control pills and only-for-emergencies Plan B. No doubt if such a thing takes off, it will immediately become the source of a massive sex panic on the right, because, as Stoeffel notes, it is "the stuff of single-girl dreams." I agree, but not in the way Stoeffel means.

If you're not in a relationship, it can feel like overkill to swallow a pill every day on the unlikely chance you're going to get laid. The pill is more suitable for long-term relationships where sex is a frequent occurrence, which is why a lot of women go on and off of the pill depending on their relationship status. If you're only getting laid every couple of months or so, it might be preferable to have a pill you only have to take when you have sex.

So it's a single girl's dream because being single is not, as Rush Limbaugh would imagine it, a nonstop parade of men through your bedroom, at least for most women. Sex when you are single can be sporadic and unpredictable, whereas people in relationships tend to have sex on the regular. (Having someone in your house already is 90 percent of the battle.) Call them "slut pills" if you want, but I bet the biggest market for such pills will be women who actually don't have a lot of sex.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.