Contraception lets lower the 71% child pregnancy rate in VA
A smart guide to birth control for girls in foster care
71% of women are pregnant by 21 who have been in Foster care.
I am 21 non-medical woman who is passionate about trying to lower the high rates of adolescent pregnancies in women who have been in foster care. 71% of young women have been pregnant by 21if they have been in foster care, almost 40 % more than their peers nationwide. Hopefully, we could help lower this number by providing information on the options available and finding the right birth control. This would allow these young adults to become more stable in their lives and financially before deciding to have a child. Here is a smart guide to birth control.
In this blog, I have tried to give pros and cons for each birth control I have come across available in the United States. I have tried to arrange them from the cheapest to the most expensive. However, this is all dependent on what your health insurance will cover. Sadly, all I could find on Birth control with Medicaid was that Hormonal birth control such as the pills, stick on patched, vaginal rings, shots, and implants require a prescription and may be covered by Medicaid plan D... You should check with your doctor and insurance to see if they have specific types of birth control and cover the cost of partial or full use. If you have a FAPT Team, you may also be able to discuss whether they could fund your birth control if your insurance doesn't cover it.
We will start with the cheapest methods. The most effective and cheapest method (it's free) is abstinence. No sex = no STDs/ no baby. As I'm sure many of you learned in Sexual health class, this is the only 100% effective. However, I do understand that for the majority, this may not be the preferred method.
Like the method of above, this next birth control is also accepted by the Church (for those after marriage) Fertility Awareness/ Natural Family Planning. This method is where the woman tracks her monthly cycle from her period to ovulation to determine when she is least likely to get pregnant. When this is used correctly, this can prevent a new member joining the family 76% of the time. However, that for me, personally is still too high of a possibility of having a child. This way is also only effective if the woman has a very regular period. It should also be noted that my father is a "rhythm" (how the Church used to call this method) child so that you may understand my lack of faith in this method.
Next, we come to probably my least favorite method of pregnancy prevention…. Pulling out/ withdrawal method. This is not very effective AT ALL. It can prevent pregnancy 73% of the time if you do it correctly EVERY SINGLE TIME. For this, the penis MUST be pulled out of the vagina BEFORE ejaculation and shot away from the genitalia. Even then, sperm can still exist in the pre-cum, hence the almost 30% chance of welcoming a baby into your life. Please put that into the perspective that you have a higher chance than ¼ chance. If you have sex four times using this method, you'll probably end up with a baby from one of the mistakes. Even Planned parenthood recommends using a condom while practicing this method to protect against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and lower the chance of pregnancy.
Which brings me to my next topic, condoms. Condoms, in my opinion, should be used at all times, even when using other birth controls. It helps protect against STDs, such as Chlamydia , Gonorrhea , or Syphilis , which can be carried and transferred on pre-cum, as well as further lowering the chance of pregnancy. There are both male and female condoms; male condoms have 82% efficiency and 79% efficiency for female condoms (thin tubes of latex that fit in the vagina to block sperm). One of the biggest pros of condoms is that they are a cheap option for birth control. However, like all birth controls, it is not without its cons. Some people can develop allergies to certain types of condoms, such as latex condoms, which are the most effective variety. Condoms can also break or tear, please check their expiration date and make sure they are stored in cool areas without a lot of friction. One of the most prominent complaints people use to object to condoms is that some people claim it lowers their sensitivity. I have found this is a big reason people push not to use them. However, I would like to point out that if you don't use one, the efficiency is 0%; therefore, please refer to the options above for contraceptive or make sure you have one of the below as back up.
Our next stop on the wonderful journey of a baby free life is the contraceptive sponge. The contraceptive plastic sponge saturated with spermicide that is fitted into the vaginal to block and kill sperm. This birth control is about 76% to 88% effective and cost about $5. There are pros to this method as it can be left in for multiple sexual acts in 24 hours. However, this is not my favorite method of contraceptive. There is an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome with this method. Toxic shock syndrome is a sudden, potentially fatal condition. It's caused by the release of toxins from an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. It is also possible to develop a sensitivity or allergic reaction to spermicide. The sponge must also be left in the vagina for six hours after sex and can be quite messy. These cons will also be found in some other contraceptives mentioned below.
Another option is a hormonal shot. This shot is an injection of progesterone, which stops the ovaries from releasing the eggs and thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and fertilize the eggs. This is given every 90 days and cost up to $20 every shot, again depending on insurance. It is about 98% effective and is very low maintenance, as you just have to remember to go in to get the shot. Sadly, most users do notice it having some effect on their menstrual cycle, including having no period at all (no period is a positive in my books). The more negative side effects include nausea, headaches, and depression. These side effects are more likely to occur if you smoke, and there is a possibility of being unable to conceive for up to a year after you stop taking the shot. So, if you are at a time where you are considering starting a family, please be aware this option requires a bit more time between ending the birth control and getting pregnant. Some studies have also linked this shot to a loss of bone density (which may be temporary), which may lead to osteoporosis.
Two main types of Pills are used. These are combined hormonal pills, which are a mix between estrogen and progestin and the hormonal pill, which just uses progestin. Both versions are about 91% effective and cost up to about $50 per month. Research has suggested that both forms slightly reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers; however may slightly raise the risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancers, as always, this is also affected by genetic and other factors. This is quite a neutral birth control as it can reduce some period symptoms bit can increase some of the effects of the periods like breast tenderness. One major factor which makes this option not an effective method for me is that if the daily dose is not taken on time or missed. This decreases the effectiveness drastically, so another form of birth control will have to be used for about a week before it is useful. As I am not great with time and can be very forgetful, this is not the option for me.
The next possible pregnancy protection is the Patch, a flat patch can be placed on the skin and releases estrogen and progestin, these have to be replaced about every three weeks with a week off so that you can have your period. These are 92% effective and cost up to $50. A big plus for this option is that most don't have side effects. If you do experience mild side effects, these typically include nausea, headaches, and breast tenderness; the likelihood of this again increases if you smoke.
Now we come to some of the options referenced above as they have similar cons as the contraceptive sponge. The first is the cervical cap; this is a soft, flexible device, filled with spermicide, that fits over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. It cost up to about $75 and is 80% effective. This could be an option for someone who doesn't wish to have a hormonal birth control; however, as with the sponge, the risk of toxic syndrome increases. Potentially developing a sensitivity or allergic reaction to the spermicide is also a possibility. The only difference in the cons from the sponge is that it should be left in for 4 hours after sex rather than 6.
Then there is the diaphragm, it cost up to about $80 and is 88% effective, it is a soft, flexible disk used to block the cervix. It is good because, like the cap, it is not hormonal, and this can be left in for multiple uses in 24 hours as long as you insert more spermicide every 6 hours. However, it has all the same cons as the sponge with the added fun bonus of increased risk of urinary tract infections. The chance of you having a UTI at some point in your life so you probably know that UTIs are not a fun experience, if you still have not had one be very thankful because it can feel like peeing fire and sadly you feel like you have to pee every 5 minutes. Not a recommended experience.
If you are going to spend up to $80 on contraception, the vaginal ring is another option. The vaginal ring is a flexible ring about 2 inches wide that you place in your vagina. It is left there for about three weeks then removed for a week to have a period, similar to the Patch but internal. It also releases progestin and estrogen and has a 92% efficiency. I have never tried this option, but it has some appealing pros in that it is relatively low maintenance, you potentially have lighter periods and premenstrual effects. However, it is possible to experience some breast tenderness and headaches.
Now the implant, if not covered by health insurance, can get rather expensive as it can be up to $800 to be put in your arm and $300 to be removed. To make up for the cost (though I am not sure it is worth that much, but I am a little biased as you will see later), it does have some pros though, it is 99% effective (high odds in your favor). It is a longer-term solution as it can last up to 3 years, though it can be removed at any time. Here are the cons, though, that made me biased against it from my personal experience. It is a hormonal option which, like all, has the potential to risk messing up your cycle, while this can play in some people's favor as it can stop your period, it can also work against it as in my experience pretty much never stops. You also can experience side effects of breast tenderness, acne, weight gain. As if my continual bleeding wasn't enough, I went through about every side effect from the tenderness to the mood swings. However, as I said, this was just my personal experience, and it can work well for others. One other thing to note, though, is that the implant can be broken in the arm with an impact, so if you play impact sports or some different environment where it might get hit, this will make it ineffective.
You will probably be happy to know that we are coming to the end of our options. Next up are the Coil or Intrauterine Device (IUD). There are two main types of IUDs Copper and Hormonal. The copper coil cost up to $800, it is 99% effective and can be left up to 10 years. The cons are that random spotting can occur during early use, and there can be more substantial PMS effects. It should be noted that if you have bad cramps, this is not the option for you, as it can make cramps worse. If you do have terrible cramps, the hormonal IUD can help some with this.
The hormonal IUD cost up to $800, but it is OVER 99% effective and can be used for 3 to 5 years. On top of helping cramps, there is also the possibility of stopping your period altogether. However, in my experience, as it enters your uterus, there can be some severe cramping when it is first inserted. I experienced severe cramps for about two weeks after and some tenderness during intercourse for a few months, but this will vary per person. My cycle was destroyed with the implant, and while it is much more regular, it should be noted that there are some very slight irregularities still with the IUD but, in my opinion, very worth it as it is the most effective.
Vasectomy, on the other hand, is just as effective as the hormonal IUD, so women, if your boyfriend doesn't want to use a condom or other birth control, offer this as a friendly alternative for them. Their tubes can be cut and sealed so no sperm can be ejaculated. You will still have the liquid don't worry, but without the pesky baby-makers trying to escape. Please note that this should be seen as a permanent birth control option as while it can be reversed, there can be quite a high risk of it staying permanent.
Finally, we come to the last options the Plan B or the morning-after pill. This should not be used as a regular contraceptive and is more of a UH-OH the condom split or oops we didn't use a condom or some other emergency situation where contraceptive is needed. It cost up to about $80 and how long you have until you use it varies depending on the type but is always more effective the sooner you have it. There are two main types of morning-after pill, Levonorgestrel, 98% effective up to 72 hours after having intercourse, and Ulipristal acetate, 98% effective for up to 5 days after. Both can cause brief episodes of nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. Your period could also be irregular for a cycle or two.
I hope this blog can help you to decide the best option for you. The facts about birth control were taken from HealthLine and Planned Parenthood . Please note that while my personal biases and experiences influenced my recommendations, personally, I believe any birth control is better than testing fate with none. It is best to try them yourselves as everyone's body is different and to talk to your doctor about the best option for you.