You want to have control over your birth control. And understanding how much your choice of pill, diaphragm, sponge, patch or condom will set you back, allows you to find the contraceptive method that’s right for you. Let’s take a closer look.
The cost of contraceptives varies widely depending on your choice of method and location. For example, the contraceptive pill can cost between $25- $100 per month, whilst an intrauterine device starts at around $1,000. Online prescription services make accessing birth control easy and costs start at $27 for the pill. If you have insurance, you can access most types of birth control free of charge depending on the state you live in. But if you don’t have insurance, fear not! You’ve got lots of options.
So how do you choose the birth control that’s right for you?
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Birth control pills are popular hormonal pills taken orally to prevent pregnancy. They act by thickening the cervical mucus membrane to block sperm and signal the ovaries to stop releasing an egg every month. Occasionally, the pill may be taken to regulate period flow. There are two main types – the combined pill containing estrogen and progesterone, and the mini pill which contains just progesterone. The pill is 99% reliable in preventing pregnancy. “However when it comes to real-life effectiveness, the pill is about 91% effective,” says Donnica Moore, president at Sapphire Women’s Health in Chester, New Jersey. “This means that 9 out of 100 pill users will get pregnant each year largely because it’s tricky to remember to take a pill every single day.”
It’s important to remember that the pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
When it comes to cost, the brand of your contraceptive pill matters. Combined oral contraceptive pills like Tri-Sprintec containing estrogen and progesterone start at $27 for 84 pills, whilst Kariva, which contains estrogen and progestin can cost $84 for 84 tablets.
Online pharmacy services tend to be a cheaper alternative to physical store locations. They are simple to use as well. Just begin a confidential online consultation and receive the pill shipped for free. Your consultant will advise you on the best pill in terms of hormone ingredients.
The vaginal ring is an effective and low-cost alternative to the pill. The small plastic ring releases hormones into the bloodstream that, when inserted into the vagina, prevent pregnancy in a similar manner to the contraceptive pill. Effectiveness is similar to the contraceptive pill at 99%. One vaginal ring lasts for one month after which it will need to be replaced with a new one.
The NuvaRing is available online for just $1.67 for 9 rings. A single ring can set you back $30 when bought in store, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Birth control patch
If you don’t like to swallow pills or insert vaginal rings, a hormonal patch could be a good alternative. The patch usually contains estrogen and progestin as active ingredients. These are slowly released into the bloodstream via the skin. The patch is another highly effective contraceptive option, preventing pregnancy 98% of the time. But as with all hormonal birth control, effectiveness does depend on proper use of the patch. If you begin to wear it irregularly you may run a higher risk of getting pregnant.
Patches tend to come in packs of three and are worn for one week each. Costs start at $30 for a one-month supply.
Whether a contraceptive patch is the right choice for you is best decided in consultation with your doctor or an online pharmacist.
Birth control shot
If you find it hard to remember to take your birth control pills or swap out patches every week, the contraceptive shot (Depo-Provera) may be what you’re looking for.
Each injection of progestin lasts for three months. It is 94% effective.
If you opt for the shot, you must remember to visit your doctor or nurse every 12 months. Some people also inject themselves at home.
The costs for Depo-Provera range from $50 to $200 for the initial injection. Follow-up visits are usually cheaper at $30 to $75 per injection.
The intrauterine device (IUD) is a plastic and copper coil that is inserted into the uterus to prevent unintended pregnancy. The device is 99% effective. Compared to hormonal contraceptives, an IUD is fitted for five years, so you won’t run the risk of forgetting to take birth control. It’s available as a hormone-free version which is an attractive option if you can’t use hormonal contraceptives.
IUDs carry the largest upfront cost at an estimated $1,000. But because they last for at least five years, they are also among the cheapest birth control methods in the long run. You will need to speak to a doctor or a nurse to have the IUD fitted.
Whether the IUD is the right choice for you depends on a few factors. For example, are you looking to use contraceptives long time? In that case, an IUD could be a cheaper option. Are you trying to regulate period flow and/or alleviate symptoms of endometriosis? Hormonal birth control is likely a better choice for you.
The arm implant also called Nexplanon is a thin rod that releases hormones when inserted into the arm. It’s 99% effective. Similar to the IUD, it offers long-term contraceptive potential and last for up to three years, but it is not hormone-free.
Costs start at $1,300 without insurance. A doctor or nurse will need to fit the implant after a consultation.
A diaphragm is a bendable silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix during sex. Often used in conjunction with a gel that kills sperm, it prevents sperm from reaching an egg. It is inserted before sexual intercourse and must be removed and cleaned after use. It can be reused many times. The diaphragm is 88% effective in preventing pregnancy. It may be a good option for those new to contraception seeking a hormone-free alternative.
Costs range from $15 to $50 for the diaphragm. The spermicide gel will cost another $7 to $20 per tube.
The sponge is similar to the diaphragm. The small plastic sponge is inserted into the vagina before sex to cover the cervix. A spermicide is used in conjunction with the sponge. Its effectiveness is between 76% to 88%. In contrast to the diaphragm, the sponge is not reusable.
The price for free sponges ranges from $9 to $15.
Condoms are the only contraceptive method to also protect against sexually transmitted diseases. They are also the most readily available birth control and can be purchased at most grocery or drug stores. Latex condoms are 98% effective if used perfectly. They cost around $1 per condom or $10 for the average 12-pack.
You can also purchase female condoms which are 79% effective and will set you back around $2 per condom.
Ultimately, choosing the right birth control depends on your needs, medical history and budget. “There’s no one-size-fits-all birth control method, which is why [asking] questions [is] so critical,” says Dr. Savita Ginde, vice president of medical affairs at Stride Community Health Center. “The best form of birth control for you is the one that you will use routinely and regularly.”
Remember that birth control benefits both partners so it makes sense to split costs with your partner. Whatever concerns you may have about birth control, just speak to your doctor or online healthcare expert to find out more.
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