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What is Birth Control?

Birth control, also known as contraception, is a safer sex tool that prevents pregnancy through either hormonal or non-hormonal methods. Scroll below to find more information on what types are available, and where we can access them. 

ORAL CONTRACEPTION

Also known as "the pill," the oral contraceptive pill comes in two different versions, as listed below. By taking the pill around the same time every day, it prevents pregnancy by elevating hormone levels so eggs aren't released during the time someone could be ovulating. Some pills also thicken the cervical mucus to create a more physical barrier to potential fertilization. 
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Pros:

  • potential to experience lighter, less painful, more regular periods, reduced acne

  • easy to use, easy to control dosage

Cons:

  • have to remember to take it around the same time every day

  • potential to experience sore breasts, change in sex drive, nausea, and depression

EFFECTIVENESS: 

99% with perfect use 

91% with typical use 

COST: 

Without insurance: $10-113 /monthly ​

With insurance: free under most plans 

Combination pill:

  • estrogen/progestin combo

  • 3 weeks of active pills, 1 week placebo which will allow for a monthly period

Progestin only pill:

  • also known as the mini pill, only contains progestin

  • continuous active pills for a full menstrual cycle

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EFFECTIVENESS: 

99% with perfect use 

94% with typical use  

COST: 

Without insurance: ​$50- 120/monthly 

With insurance: free under most plans

THE DEPO-PROVERA SHOT

The shot is exactly what it sounds like. One shot covers your birth control for three months, after which we need to go in to get another dose. The shot contains progestin only, which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus to create a physical barrier between sperm and egg. 

Pros: 

  • private -- no tell tale signs or evidence of taking birth control

  • potential to experience shorter or lighter period 

  • only need to worry about it every 3 months

  • safe to take while breastfeeding   

Cons: 

  • must rely on a health care provider to administer contraception 

  • potential to experience irregular bleeding and weight gain

  • no way to reverse the side effects of getting the shot until it wears off  

THE RING

Also known by the brand name NuvaRing, this hormonal contraceptive method is a small bendy ring that works by slowly releasing hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. It is placed inside of the vagina and left for three weeks, then taken out for a week.  

Pros: 

  • relatively little work to use, only have to remember to put it in and take it out once each month 

  • uses lower amounts of localized hormones 

Cons: 

  • have to be super comfortable with your body 

  • potential to experience sore breasts, spotting between periods, and change in sex drive

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EFFECTIVENESS: 

99% with perfect use 

91% with typical use 

COST: 

Without insurance: $10-113/monthly  ​

With insurance: ​ free under most plans

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THE PATCH

Just less than two inches long, the patch is a beige plastic sticker that can be stuck onto any part of the body (except by the breasts if we have them). It releases hormones which prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs, and thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg in the first place. One patch has enough hormones for an entire week until we have to switch it out for a new one. The week we choose not to wear a patch is likely the week we might get a period. 

EFFECTIVENESS: 

99% with perfect use 

91% with typical use  

COST: 

Without insurance: ​$30-44 /per patch 

With insurance: free under most plans

Pros: 

  • easy to use, like using a bandaid 

  • only have to remember to switch it out once every 7 days 

  • potential to experience lighter, more regular periods

Cons: 

  • only comes in one skin tone (beige)

  • potential to experience irritation where the patch sits on the skin 

  • potential to experience change in sex drive

  • less effective for bodies over 198 lbs  

THE IMPLANT

Placed in a category called long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), the implant is a small rod that gets placed in the upper arm. It slowly releases progestin, which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the cervical mucus. It can prevent pregnancy for up to four years, and they are currently running clinical trials to test for protection up to five years! 

Pros: 

  • only have to think about it every 4 years

  • safe for those who smoke cigarettes, breastfeeding people, and people who cannot take estrogen 

  • may improve symptoms from endometriosis 

Cons: 

  • potential to experience initial irregular bleeding 

  • potential to experience change in sex drive, scarring from implantation, ovarian cysts 

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EFFECTIVENESS: 

99% with perfect use 

91% with typical use 

COST: 

Without insurance: full cost of $450-$848  ​

With insurance: ​ free under most plans

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THE IUD

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) come in non-hormonal and hormonal versions, which are explained below. They act as a physical barrier to preventing pregnancy, while also affecting the way sperm swim, thus greatly reducing the chance of impregnation. They offer up from 3-12 years of protection against pregnancy, but have to be inserted by a professional healthcare provider. 

EFFECTIVENESS: 

99% with perfect use 

91% with typical use  

COST: 

Without insurance: ​$ 

With insurance: free under most plans

HORMONAL IUD: 

  • made of plastic 

  • release small amounts of progestin over time to thicken cervical mucus and prevent impregnation 

  • 4 different types available: Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena 

  • prevents pregnancy for 3-6 years (depending on type) 

NON-HORMONAL IUD: 

  • made of plastic with copper coil 

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