• Elisabeth Bachmann

Why We Need Sex Ed: Birth Control

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Birth control is one of those topics that everyone deserves to learn about. It has drastically changed how we all live our lives. It gives women choices about our health and our activities.

So What is Birth Control?

Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. However, in this post I am only talking about effective hormonal birth control. This includes IUDs and birth control pills. This post does not discuss all forms of effective hormonal birth control.

As I said earlier, birth control gives women choices and options for their health. We actually have so many options — because each woman’s body is unique and has its own needs — that it can be confusing to find something that is right for you.

The Rundown on 3 Types of Birth Control:


IUDs are long-term effective hormonal birth control. Essentially, you go to a healthcare provider, get a prescription, and they insert the IUD. After that, you may be asked to come back in for check-ins. If your doctor recommends it, do it. Although it is rare, you do not want that IUD coming out. If it’s not in, it won’t work.

You can check your strings yourself, and your healthcare provider should walk you through how. It is pretty simple. The IUD has strings that come out of your cervix. At first, these will be a little sharp to the touch — but not to your vagina. They should wrap up around the outside of your cervix. To check to see if it is in place, squat or sit and insert a finger or two into your vagina and feel around for your cervix. It is kinda hard and rubbery — like your nose! You should feel the strings there. If you are unsure, you can always ask your healthcare provider to check it for you or to walk you through checking.

I like IUDs because they are convenient, low-maintenance, and they lighten periods.

There are a few cons to getting an IUD. The first is that it can be expensive on the front end. IUDs last for 3-10 years depending on which one you chose. With insurance and medicaid, IUDs are generally affordable. It really does depend on your insurance. I would suggest asking about the co-pay before making the appointment.

The second is that the insertion of the IUD is painful and invasive. I have personally had an IUD, and it is uncomfortable to get. It is like a mega-cramp. However, the cramping and soreness should subside rather quickly. I believe the convenience out-ways the temporary discomfort, but thats just me. Do what you feel is most comfortable for your body. Birth control is all about having choices.

Nexplanon — The Arm Bar

Nexplanon is the little bar that is inserted into a woman’s upper arm to provide long-term effective hormonal birth control. It is invisible — but you can feel it if you try — and can last up to 4 years. Nexplanon is unlikely to impact your weight, but it can make your period irregular in the first year.

I have no personal experience with Nexplanon, but I did speak to a few of my friends who have had it for a while. For the most part, they liked it. However, some questions have risen about the updated versions of it. Namely, it may cause oily skin and acne.

Financially, this form of birth control is very similar to an IUD. Talk to your doctor about how Nexplanon may effect you and ask about a co-pay.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are tricky. They are highly effective when used correctly, and ideally they can reduce acne, headaches, PMS and a whole slew of other period/hormone related issues. However, you have to take the pill, on time, every. single. day. If you do not, it will not work.

The type of birth control pill you get determines how timely you must be with your pills. The combination pill (the one with estrogen and progestin) is somewhat more forgiving than the mini pill which only has progestin.

Either way, if you miss the pill by more than 12 hours you should take it immediately and use backup protection — such as a barrier method. I would also recommend calling your provider. They can give you more information about how long you should use the barrier method and whether you need to take something like Plan B.

A note to my US readers, Plan B is available at most pharmacies. You can purchase it as a teen without telling your parents. I do not recommend hiding information from your parents — especially about your health — but if having to tell parents would keep you from taking care of yourself, rest assured — you don’t have to tell them.

Birth control pills are inexpensive, even without insurance. They have been completely free for many of my insured friends. You can also order them online for a low cost without insurance.

To Sum Up

Birth control is about choices. Having choices regarding your health should be something you take advantage of. All of the methods listed above are at least 90% effective. I suggest making your health a priority. Having a child before you are ready is a lot less convenient and a lot more expensive than a doctor’s appointment and a prescription.

Of course, if you do not need birth control because you are not sexually active, then don’t get it. Abstinence is the only form of birth control that works 100% of the time.

One Last Note:

Hormonal birth control does not protect you from STIs, STDs or HIV. (Those terms are repetitive, but I want to be really clear.) To protect yourself against STDs, you should get tested regularly — before you have a new partner and about once a year. You should also use a barrier method, such as a condom or dental dam.

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