Birth Control

Showing 171 posts tagged Birth Control

I love my Mirena IUD, but not getting my period makes me nervous. How can I make sure I’m not pregnant?


Someone asked us:

I have the Mirena IUD and I absolutely love it. However, I am still super wary of the fact that I don’t get my period regularly, as awesome as it is, because I’m constantly anxious about being pregnant. What are the legitimate chances that I might get pregnant with the IUD correctly in place? What are the warning signs if the device isn’t correctly in place? I ask, because my Gyno actually just retired and I haven’t found a new one yet. Any IUD tips or facts would be greatly appreciated!

It’s pretty common for the Mirena IUD to shorten, lighten and even eliminate your period. The chances of getting pregnant with an IUD in place are super incredibly slim — IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. So you can relax. Odds are your IUD is doing a bang-up job of keeping buns out of your oven, regardless of menstruation (or lack thereof).

As you note, pregnancy is possible if your IUD moves out of place or gets expelled. If it helps you feel more relaxed, you can check the strings that hang out of your cervix every now and then. If they’re way longer or shorter than normal, or have disappeared altogether, see a nurse or doctor about it. Same if you can feel the plastic part of the IUD coming out of your cervix.

Remember, you can also use condoms if you want an extra dose of pregnancy prevention. And condoms are the ONLY method of birth control that also protect against STDs. 

It’s a bummer when our favorite doctors retire, but remember you can always visit a Planned Parenthood health center for all your gyno needs (and then some!). We happen to think our staff is pretty great.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood


Welcome to Advanced Sex Ed, Planned Parenthood’s newest Tumblr segment. Put on your smarty pants because we’re kicking things up a notch with some higher-level sexual learnin’.

Birth Control Effectiveness Rates: Perfect-Use vs. Typical-Use.

“Why are there sometimes two different effectiveness rates for birth control? Which is correct?”

One of the questions we get all the time is, “How effective is birth control?” Usually people are looking for one, definitive percentage that tells them exactly how well a certain method prevents pregnancy. But reality is more complicated than that.

Birth control effectiveness is measured two ways: how well it prevents pregnancy when used PERFECTLY every single time, and how well it prevents pregnancy after factoring in human error. These are called “perfect-use rates” and “typical-use rates.”

Let’s look at the birth control pill, for example:

  • Perfect-use rate: Less than 1 out of 100 people will get pregnant each year if they ALWAYS take the pill every day as directed.

  • Typical-use rate: About 9 out of 100 people will get pregnant each year if they don’t always take the pill each day as directed.

So the pill is extremely effective if used perfectly, but that old saying, “nobody’s perfect,” also applies to birth control. We sometimes make mistakes or life circumstances foil our perfect-use plans: things like forgetting a pill, losing a pill, not being able to get the next pack on time and barfing can all impact the pill’s effectiveness. Therefore, we have two different rates, and the “real-life” one applies to most of us.

But what’s up with birth control that has only one, very impressive effectiveness rate? (Lookin’ at you, IUDs and implants!) These LARCs — long-acting reversible contraceptives — are virtually impossible to screw up, so they get a perfect-use rate by default: more than 99%, the best there is. More and more people are using LARCs these days because they’re super convenient AND super effective — even the folks on our Planned Parenthood Tumblr Team are huge fans.

Life happens, so typical-use rates are the most true to life. The most common reason birth control fails is because we mess it up. So whatever method you choose, you’ve got to use it as perfectly as possible or it just won’t work as well as it should. Be honest with yourself: if your lifestyle just doesn’t jive with having to think about birth control on a regular basis, consider getting yourself a LARC.

And remember: no method of birth control is 100% effective, even if used perfectly. But you can increase your pregnancy-preventing superpowers by using both birth control and condoms. There’s another really good reason to do this: condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects you from STDs.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood

I’m on the birth control shot (Depo Provera) and also use the pull-out method. Can I still get pregnant?


Someone asked us:

I am on birth control (depo) and I always get my shots on time. If I don’t use condoms and use the pull out method am I still at too big of a risk to get pregnant?

The birth control shot (aka Depo Provera) is one of the most effective methods of birth control out there. If you always get your shot on time — every 12 weeks — Depo is more than 99% effective.

Doubling up on your pregnancy protection is a great idea just in case — which you’re already doing (good for you!). Using the Depo shot combined with the pull out  method (aka withdrawal) gives you excellent pregnancy prevention powers. If no sperm gets on your vulva or into your vagina, pregnancy can’t happen. But using the pull out method correctly is tricky, so the shot protects you from pregnancy in case there’s sperm in your partner’s pre-cum or they don’t pull out in time. 

It’s important to remember that neither the birth control shot nor the pull out method protects you from STDs. Condoms are the only method of birth control that also prevents the spread of STDs, and they’re more effective at preventing pregnancy than pulling out.

So while your Depo + withdrawal combo method is really, really good, you could up your protection game even more by throwing in some condoms. 

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood

Why isn’t my birth control covered for free under Obamacare?

*** post updated on 7/23/14 to include new information 


Someone asked us:

I heard that birth control is free under Obamacare but I’m still paying for my pills every month. Why isn’t my insurance giving it to me for free?

There are a couple of reasons why this may happen. Here’s the deal:

Obamacare (sometimes called the health care law or the Affordable Care Act) is awesome because it recognizes that birth control is basic, preventive health care. It makes it so that most health insurance plans have to cover birth control for free without a copay.

At a minimum, health plans have to cover the full range of birth control methods without a copay if they are prescribed and FDA-approved. This can include:

  • birth control pills
  • vaginal rings
  • the patch
  • the shot (Depo)
  • implants
  • IUDs
  • female sterilization (plans are not required to cover vasectomies, but some might)
  • diaphragms
  • cervical caps
  • emergency contraception (aka the morning-after pill) if prescribed
  • spermicides if prescribed
  • sponges if prescribed
  • female condoms if prescribed

Most health plans must also cover your visit to the doctor to talk about your birth control options as well as services related to contraception — like follow-up visits, management of side effects, and IUD insertions and removals. This is with no out-of-pocket costs to you.

But, there are a few reasons why your insurance may not cover a type of birth control or may still charge a copay for your specific birth control.

Your health insurance plan is only required to cover one type of each birth control method (e.g., implant, IUD, sterilization, and hormonal birth control), but not necessarily all of the products in that category.  For example, if you use birth control pills, you might be able to get Ortho-Tri-Cyclen with no copay, but not Loestrin (another brand of birth control pills). Or the plan may cover a generic version of birth control pills with no copay, but charge a copay for the brand-name version.  

Plans must cover a brand name drug or a specific generic version if the version the plan covers with no copay is medically inappropriate for you. You and your nurse/doctor can talk about the methods that are best for you, and they’ll help you find the birth control that best meets your needs. 

If you and your nurse/doctor decide you need a specific birth control product that isn’t covered without a copay, you can request a “waiver” from your insurance company — this will allow you to use the brand name or specific generic without a copay. You can check with your insurance company for more information about the waiver process.

Another reason your birth control might have a copay is if your insurance plan is “grandfathered.” In other words, the plan doesn’t have to comply with certain standards under Obamacare because the plan already existed when the law was passed. So preventive care like birth control, STD screenings, and cervical cancer screenings might not be covered without a copay.

The good news is that more and more insurance plans will lose grandfathered status over time, usually when they make big changes to benefits, costs, and policies under the plan. If your plan loses its grandfathered status, your new plan must cover the full range of birth control methods for free without a copay.

Certain employers may also be permitted to refuse to cover birth control in their health insurance plans.  Churches and other religious houses of worship that are opposed to birth control do not have to provide employees birth control coverage. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that two for-profit companies could refuse to cover birth control in their health plans due to religious objection. 

At this point, it’s unknown how many employers will use this Supreme Court decision to refuse to cover birth control or if the federal government will create another way for people employed at these companies to receive coverage. If your employer has indicated that it may refuse coverage of birth control, please contact the Planned Parenthood helpline by texting “birth control” to 69866.

Please note that some religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations (such as universities, hospitals, and charities) can refuse to cover birth control in their health plans, but the health insurance company must provide birth control without copay to employees.  As such, you should still receive no-cost birth control.   

This is all to say that insurance plans can vary a lot, so the best way to find out what’s covered is to call your insurance company. You should call the number on your insurance card and ask them questions directly. If you’re not getting the answers you need or access to the benefits you should, you can contact the Planned Parenthood text helpline by texting “birth control” to 69866.

And remember: whether you have insurance or not, you can always come to Planned Parenthood for the care you need, when you need it.

-Adriana at Planned Parenthood


Timeline: 100 Years of Birth Control

Since Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger coined the term “birth control” in 1914, contraception has truly revolutionized women’s lives in the United States, and around the world. Brush up on your birth control history, and see just how far we’ve come in 100 years.


I don’t want kids for at least three years. What birth control should I use?


Someone asked us:

What’s the best birth control for a couple that plans on starting a family in three years, that’s not the pill?

Your best bet is to go with an IUD or an implant, which are the most effective forms of birth control available, last for a long time, and don’t require you to do anything once they’re in place. The implant and Skyla IUD last for three years, and the Mirena IUD lasts for five. If you’re trying to avoid hormones, the ParaGard IUD gives you up to 12 years of hormone-free pregnancy protection. Even though these methods last for a long time, you can get them removed whenever you want, and you’ll be able to get pregnant soon after.

If an IUD or implant doesn’t sound like your thing, there are other methods that use hormones similar to the pill, but you don’t have to deal with them daily. Birth control patches are changed once a week, NuvaRings are changed once a month, and the Depo shot is given once every three months. One of the greatest thing about birth control these days is that there are so many options!

 -Mylanie @ Planned Parenthood