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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Health

Birth control options in a post-Roe v. Wade world


Careful Contraception: Staying safe post-Roe

Aya Ghoneim/The Cougar

With Roe v. Wade no longer constitutionally protecting Americans’ rights to safe abortions, those affected by the ruling have frantically turned to birth control and other preventative options.

President Joe Biden tweeted that his administration aims to protect access to drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including mifepristone which is able to end an early pregnancy. 

“Today, I’m directing the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that medications like contraception and mifepristone are available to the fullest extent possible,” Biden tweeted.

Created to normalize access to abortions by mail, plancpills.org provides information on the safety of abortion pills and includes a guide about the specific abortion care available in each state. The information provided focuses on two kinds of pills: ones with Mifepristone and Misoprostol, and ones with Misoprostol only.

When it comes to birth control, the numerous options and restrictions can easily become overwhelming. Planned Parenthood lists the different options available, with some of the most common being pills, patches and an intrauterine device.

Birth control pills are taken daily to prevent pregnancy through synthetic hormones and preventing ovulation,  and with generic and non-generic brands, there are options available for each price range. When choosing the right brand of pill, carefully consider underlying health issues and potential side effects.

Working in a similar way to the pill, the patch is replaced weekly for three weeks, followed by a patch-free week, allowing menstruation to occur. This method contains the same hormones as birth control pills and holds some advantages over their oral counterpart, including being an alternate option for those who cannot swallow pills and the ability to be removed at any time.

IUDs are proven to be 99 percent effective and inserted into the uterus, with some versions lasting up to 12 years. Hormonal IUDs contain progestin and create mucus that blocks fertilization, whereas copper IUDs use copper ions to create an inhospitable environment for sperm.

The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception if inserted within five days after unprotected sex. This IUD is not recommended for those allergic to copper, those with Wilson’s disease and those with bleeding disorders preventing blood from properly clotting.

Another long-lasting form of contraception is an implant, commonly sold as Nexplanon. The implant is inserted into the upper arm and lasts for three years, needing to be removed by the end of the third year. While the cost can reach $1,300, the implant could be covered by the Affordable Care Act.

A more temporary yet still effective option is a shot, which is given once every three months. Depo-Provera is the most common brand, suppressing ovulation with an estimated six out of 100 people becoming pregnant. This method is not recommended for those with a history of depression or those wanting to get pregnant within the next year.

Vaginal rings are replaced once a month, releasing estrogen and progestin to prevent the release of an egg. The ring is inserted for three weeks and removed for one, before replacing it. These can be free with most health insurance plans but are typically $200 each without any coverage.

For devices used during sex, condoms are the most common but other options are internal condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and sponges.

Morning-after pills are used as emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex and are not to be used as birth control.

There are numerous resources available to determine who is available for low-cost or free health insurance, helping everyone find the most affordable and effective birth control for them.

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