Overcoming barriers to birth control

When it comes to finding the birth control that’s right for you, there’s a lot to consider. When do you plan on having kids? How has your body handled other forms of birth control in the past? Do you have any allergies, or other medical issues that might interfere with birth control? There are tons of reasons why a particular form of birth control might not be right for a person, but here are some of the more common ones.

Personal health issues

There are certain forms of birth control that people with certain medical issues shouldn’t use. For instance, hormonal birth control pills may be dangerous for those with a history of blood clots, who have uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes, or who are currently fighting cancer. Those with latex allergies should avoid latex condoms, and so forth.

Medical reasons to not use a form of birth control (or any medication) are known as contraindications. Although you may be contraindicated for one type of birth control, virtually everybody will find a form of birth control that is right for them. It might just take a bit of experimenting, and some open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider.

IUDs and implants tend to have fewer contraindications, so they may be a better bet if you have medical issues that may interfere with the hormonal birth control pill.

Insurance coverage

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurers fully cover FDA-approved birth control methods such as ‘the pill’, IUDs, and implants. You should speak with your healthcare provider if you’re having trouble receiving coverage for your birth control. If you receive your health insurance through a religiously-affiliated employer, they may be exempted from offering birth control coverage as part of your health plan.

If you don’t have medical insurance, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid or other government services that can help you receive birth control for free, or at a heavily discounted rate. You may also want to look into local services in your area, such as community health centers or Planned Parenthood, as they can often help those without insurance find affordable birth control.

Provider won’t prescribe it

Although rare, some healthcare providers won’t prescribe certain kinds of birth control. This could be due to a religious or moral objection, or due to misinformation (like the incorrect belief that only women who have given birth can get IUDs). If your healthcare provider is completely set against giving you your preferred form of birth control for religious or moral reasons, it may be best to find a different provider.

There certainly are legitimate reasons for not prescribing certain types of medication, but when it comes to FDA-approved contraception, you should find a provider who’s willing to work with you to make the best decisions possible.

Adherence issues

The daily birth control pill might be perfect for some people, but it’s not for everybody. The birth control pill is 99% effective if used perfectly, meaning that only 1 out of every 100 women will conceive in a given year of use. With typical use, however, that rate falls to about 91%. The pill is most effective if taken at the same time everyday, so if that’s not the best schedule for you, then it may be worth looking into a Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC), such as an IUD, implant, or shot.

There are both hormonal and non-hormonal options for LARCs, and they can last for as little as 3 months (Depo shot), or as much as 12 years (copper IUD). LARCs tend to be the more effective forms of birth control as opposed to the pill or barrier methods, so these can be excellent options for those who don’t plan to conceive any time soon, and don’t want the hassle of a daily pill.

Reproductive coercion

Everybody has disagreements with their partners about one thing or another, but contraceptive choices should be nobody’s decision but your own. Reproductive coercion can take a lot of shapes, such as refusing to wear condoms (or taking them off mid-intercourse), sabotaging your birth control, or emotionally manipulating you into not using contraception before you’re ready.

Reproductive coercion is a form of intimate partner violence, and may also be accompanied by other forms of abuse. If you feel unsafe in your relationship, you should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

  • “Where Can I Buy Birth Control Pills & How Much Do They Cost?” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-do-i-get-birth-control-pills.
  • “Who shouldn’t take the pill?” University of Mary Washington | Student Health Center, 30 Mar. 2020, students.umw.edu/healthcenter/clinics/womens-clinic/who-shouldnt-take-the-pill/.
  • “Birth Control Benefits and Reproductive Health Care Options in the Health Insurance Marketplace®.” HealthCare.gov, www.healthcare.gov/coverage/birth-control-benefits/.
  • “What to Do If You Are Refused Birth Control.” Bedsider, www.bedsider.org/features/886-what-to-do-if-you-are-refused-birth-control.
  • “What Is the Effectiveness of Birth Control Pills?” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill.
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