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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Campus

Women’s Clinic will offer IUDs this semester


The Health Center offers several forms of contraception, including condoms. | Corbin Ayres/The Cougar

The Women’s Clinic at the Student Health Center will begin offering intrauterine devices (IUDs) this semester, making it the fifth birth control option offered on campus.

An IUD is a small, T-shaped form of birth control inserted directly into the uterus. Hormonal IUDs secrete hormones that prevent pregnancy, while copper IUDs prevent the sperm from swimming to an egg, according to Planned Parenthood.

IUDs have a 99 percent prevention rate and can last from 3 to 12 years. Sixty percent of women in the United States are currently using some form of birth control, and among them, IUDs are one of the most commonly used contraceptives, according to a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute.

“People come to college to learn, to make mistakes. This saves you from that mistake, helps you take control of your life,” said Associate Director of Student Health Services Roderick Jordan.

Jordan said the Student Health Center is still in the process of acquiring the IUDs, so he is unsure when they will become available to students.

Providing IUDs to students has been a long time coming, but the issue is figuring out the pricing of the devices, Jordan said. Each IUD will cost the clinic $278 to purchase — this heavy cost would fall onto the student, even through the Student Health Center’s student health insurance plan.

“We are trying to find a way to eat some of that cost, but how much can we afford to lose?” Jordan said.

Until IUDs become available, the Women’s Clinic will continue to offer other forms of birth control.

Condoms are always offered for free. A generic form of birth control pills is offered for free to individuals with student health insurance and for $20 for a four-week supply to those without insurance, said Women’s Clinic Head Nurse Practitioner Virginia Miller.

The Clinic also provides Depo-Provera shots, which is a shot that prevents pregnancy for three months at a time, as well as a generic form of Plan B, otherwise known as the “morning after” pill, Miller said.

“I think more readily available options for students who are considering something like that is always a good thing,” said creative writing junior Sarah Garrison.

Despite this variety, Miller said that IUDs will have many advantages for students.

“They can last from three to ten years. As a bonus, you don’t have to take a pill every day,” Miller said.

Miller said it is important to offer many different kinds of birth control.

“The shoe doesn’t fit all. You have to find what you’re comfortable with,” Miller said.

Miller had been sending students to off-campus doctors to have IUDs placed, because UH facilities did not offer the service.

“Then the cost falls onto the student, and we don’t want that,” Miller said.

Miller recommends that students do the research on their own and try to discover what birth control option will suit them best.

“It’s super helpful knowing I have all these options on campus,” said junior psychology major Kaitlyn Cribbs.

Cribbs said that she liked that IUDs would be among the types of contraceptives offered at the Women’s Clinic.

“For me, seeking birth control is very difficult,” Cribbs said. “Being able to have the school as a resource makes me feel safe and valued as a student and an individual.”

A reporter from the Cougar reached out to United Healthcare, the provider of the University’s student health insurance, to confirm this information.

A representative with United Healthcare explained that the University of Houston student health insurance plan includes IUDs in their covered contraceptive methods, as per the Affordable Care Act. This coverage ensures that IUDs are available to individuals on the plan at no charge, so long as the insurance plan is accepted.

The student health insurance plan specifies that all preventive care services, including contraceptive methods, will have “no deductibles, copays or coinsurance…when the services are received from a Preferred Provider.”

The spokesperson then clarified that under no circumstances should students be charged for IUD services on the UH campus, contrary to fears by clinic administration that students may be responsible for the nearly $300 contraceptive cost.

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