Family planning assistance is one of the most requested services for women in our community. Whether it’s to prevent pregnancy or to manage painful or heavy periods, breakouts or other health concerns, birth control has a surprisingly wide range of benefits.
Birth control can work in different ways
There are a variety of different ways to prevent a pregnancy, but some of the most widely used are barrier methods, hormonal prescriptions and implants. There are also ovulation monitors for a more natural approach, and sterilization (a permanent option). Your provider can help you find a product that fits your health history, plans, lifestyle and budget.
Things to consider
Choosing the right method will depend on how your body works, how sexually active you are, your tolerance for hormones, your health history and whether you may want to start a family soon. Some of the questions your provider will ask:
- How good are you at remembering to take daily medications?
- What’s your comfort with hormones? With long lasting implants?
- Do you have heavy periods or bothersome menstrual-related symptoms?
- Do you want to start a family in the next few years?
- Are you a smoker?
Hormonal birth control comes in short and long-acting options
Daily birth control pills stop pregnancy by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg). They are an affordable and reliable option for pregnancy prevention. In addition, they can help lighten and shorten periods, reduce menstrual pain and prevent breakouts. Some women are sensitive to hormones. Some side effects women may experience include mood changes, aggravation of migraines, and nausea. Uncommonly but serious side effects are possible. Some hormones can trigger blood clots which can cause leg pain, chest pain, breathing problems or dizziness and can be very dangerous. These are more problematic in women over 35, smokers, and women with a family history of blood clots. Women who have experienced these kinds of blood clots should not use estrogen-containing birth control.
Hormonal birth control is available in patches, short term (self-inserted) vaginal implants, shots and a longer-term implant that can last three years. These devices can be removed if your plans change, but as with any form of hormonal birth control, it may take several months for your system to readjust.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small device that’s placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. They work long-term and can be removed when necessary. There are two types of IUDs- hormonal and copper. These are highly effective and require little management after they are in place. Most insurance plans cover the cost of these devices.
Condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps are all considered barrier methods, as they prevent sperm from reaching the egg. They are widely available and require no prescription. Only condoms offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Barrier methods are generally less effective at preventing pregnancy than the above methods.
We’re here to help
Birth control options can be hard to sort through on your own. Our providers are here to provide factual information on preventing pregnancy and sexual health. We’re happy to answer your questions and help determine which option makes the most sense for your body. Information on HIPAA laws and your rights to privacy regarding these decisions, even as a minor, can be found here under Minor’s own SFM account.