Birth Control

RECENT POSTS

IUD Costs Vary by $600 in Bay Area; What Did You Pay?

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effective forms of birth control, but are relatively underutilized, at least in the United States. (Spike Mafford/Getty Images)

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effective forms of birth control. (Spike Mafford/Getty Images)

If you’re one of the 62 million American women of childbearing age, we have a question for you: How much do you pay for birth control? Did you know you might be able to save perhaps hundreds of dollars on your contraceptive method, just by asking? Let’s back up. We’ve reached the halfway point in our PriceCheck project. We’re shining a light on notoriously opaque and highly variable health care costs. We’re asking you, the members of our community, to share what you’ve paid for common procedures including mammograms and back MRIs. We found that both screening mammograms and back MRIs could vary in price ten-fold. Now we’re moving on to a new health care service: IUDs. We’re asking you to share what you paid for your IUD. The two most widely-used IUDs are Mirena (a hormonally-based IUD) and ParaGard (a non-hormonal product). Both are more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Our PriceCheck partner, ClearHealthCosts.com, has surveyed health care providers and lists cash prices for these IUDs in our PriceCheck database. Continue reading

Yes, Birth Control Can Raise Risk of Blood Clots; So Does Pregnancy

The NuvaRing birth control product is a flexible ring which releases hormones. A woman replaces it herself once a month. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

The NuvaRing birth control product is a flexible ring which releases hormones. A woman replaces it herself once a month. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Merck, the drug company that makes the NuvaRing birth control product, announced last week it will pay $100 million to settle thousands of claims from women who believe they were harmed by using the product.

As NPR reported Monday, NuvaRing is the most recent hormone-based kind of birth control to “become the focus of scrutiny.” All hormone-based contraceptives, including the pill, put a woman at increased risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. Women need to weigh the risks of pregnancy with the risks of hormonal contraception, experts advise. But the key thing to remember is that the risks remain rare.

Dr. Michael Policar is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at U.C. San Francisco. “If you take a rare event, make it a little more common, it is still a rare event,” he told NPR — but still believes that studies are needed that compare NuvaRing head-to-head with other forms of contraception. Continue reading

It’s Time to Rediscover the IUD, Women’s Health Advocates Say

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effective forms of birth control, but are relatively underutilized, at least in the United States.(Spike Mafford/Getty Images)

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effective forms of birth control, but are relatively underutilized, at least in the United States.(Spike Mafford/Getty Images)

By Dana Farrington, NPR

What will it take to make intrauterine devices sexy?

IUDs are highly effective forms of contraception, but fear of side effects, lack of training for doctors and costs can keep women away. Health organizations and private companies are trying to change that by breaking down misconceptions and broadening access.

The contraceptives are inserted into the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for years. And they’re reversible. Shortly after they’re taken out, a woman can become pregnant.

IUDs are more than 99 percent effective. The World Health Organization reports they are “the most widely used reversible contraceptive method globally.” But few women in the U.S. use them; the percentage is only in the single digits, in part because IUDs have a checkered past. The Dalkon Shield IUD, marketed nationwide beginning in 1971, was found to raise the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. Medical complications and deaths sparked lawsuits with thousands of claimants. Continue reading