Birth Control

Two weeks ago, I visited my OB/GYN to discuss birth control alternatives to an oral contraceptive. As a low-income college student, I wanted to explore what affordable options were available to me, and further, inform other students in similar financial positions who may be looking to make a switch.

For me, taking the pill every day had become burdensome and an afterthought. There were days where I took two at a time to compensate for missed doses, which led to pregnancy paranoia, which led to abstinence. Even when I was taking the pill consistently (for the most part), the side effects would perfectly imitate multiple symptoms of conception that stirred anxiety in both me and my partner at least once a month. Sex was becoming more of a risk than a pleasure, and considering our inflexible vexation for children, I thought it was time to seek more permanent solutions.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-5-29-49-pmIn the way of long-term contraception, I had only heard of the IUD, an interurinary device that, when inserted through the cervix into the uterus, combats egg fertilization and sperm mobility to prevent pregnancy with 99.9 percent efficacy. For me, there were many obvious pros:

  • no daily pill
  • as effective as male or female sterilization
  • possible reduction or complete elimination of menstruation (following a temporary fluctuation in menstrual cycle)
  • copper IUDs are hormone free
  • easily removable
  • restored fertility immediately following removal
  • lasts for up to three, five, six or twelve years (depending on the type of IUD)

And after some research, some cons:

  • uncomfortable or painful/invasive insertion and aftereffects
  • rare (0.5 percent to 8 percent) but possible IUD expulsion

Though the pros heavily outweigh the cons, I couldn’t get passed the idea of the insertion and subsequent uncomfortability, and the perspective of a few days of pain for 10 years of low-to-no maintenance birth control just couldn’t win me over. Then my doctor introduced me to the implant.

The implant is equally effective as an IUD, but is injected into your arm. It wreaks a lot of the same benefits as the IUD:


  • easily removable
  • no daily pill
  • as effective as male or female sterilization
  • possible reduction or complete elimination of menstruation (following a temporary fluctuation in menstrual cycle)

But unlike the IUD, insertion is not invasive and displacement is impossible.

I’ve had the implant for a month now and I find it so relieving not to have to worry about an unexpected pregnancy. It has largely boosted my confidence in my protection and takes the worry out of my partner and my’s sex life, and is totally worth the daily spotting I’ve had since the implantation. The implant was the right thing for me, but like all contraceptives, is not a one-size-fits-all. There are many other methods that may be more conducive to your lifestyle.



Though less effective than the IUD and implant, these methods are successful if used properly. Do research, read reviews, watch testimonials, and consult with your doctor to better understand your options and learn which one may be right for you.



When it comes to paying out-of-pocket for certain birth controls, especially the IUD and implant, the costs are enough to prevent the average college student from obtaining the birth control they need.

IUD: $0-$1,000

Implant: $0-$800

Depo-Provera shot: $0-$100 per injection, plus any exam fees

NuvaRing: $0-$80 per month

Patch: $0-$80 per month

Cervical Cap: $0-$75

Diaphragm: $0-$75

The Pill: $0-$50 per month

Birth Control Sponge: $0-$15 for a package of three sponges

Spermicide: about $8 per package

Female Condom: about $4 each or about $6 for a three pack

While some of the more temporary solutions are more affordable, that doesn’t mean that a woman with a low-income should be limited to only those. Lucky for SFUAD students, the current health care provider, Student Educational Benefit Trust (SEBT) covers 100 percent of the costs for contraceptives and annuals through hospitals associated with Evolutions Healthcare Systems, Inc.. In Santa Fe, these include the Presbyterian Hospital and Christus St. Vincent, both conveniently located on St. Michaels Drive.

If you don’t have the school’s insurance plan, or don’t have a plan at all, you can visit the school nurse to request oral contraceptives (so long as you aren’t a smoker) that are $10 a pack at Smiths. There, you have four options: the Previfem Tab, Sprintec 28 Day Tab, Tri-Sprintec Tab, and Trinessa Tab.

However, if you are paying out-of-pocket and want other options besides the pill, your best bet would be Planned Parenthood. “We are nonprofit so that we can offer the cheapest care possible,” Planned Parenthood Health Care Assistant Amaya Hoke says. “As far as access to birth control, and any service at Planned Parenthood, we do have a sliding fee scale. Even if you’re just going to pick up emergency contraceptives, it costs less than it costs at a pharmacy.” Whether you are insured or not, Planned Parenthood offers competitive prices that improve the accessibility to various methods.

Most insurance companies offer total coverage for female contraception, so if you have your own plan or are a dependent on your parent’s plan, call your company to find out what options are available to you for low-to-no cost.