Sex Marks the Spot: birth control dangers and costs


Q: What are the costs of birth control if obtained through student health services? Which birth control is most effective?

A: According to TU Health Services, students can receivea  prescription for birth control, but need to see one of the university physicians. The charge to see the physician is $20.  Depending on the patient’s age and other factors, laboratory testing may be necessary and other small feels may apply.  Most insurance will cover the testing if the student provides a copy of their insurance card. The cost of the prescription depends on the student’s personal insurance.

Students can receive a prescription for birth control pills, vaginal rings, e.g. Nuva Ring, and shots, e.g. Depo-Provera at Health Services. Health Services does not provide patches, e.g. Ortho Evra, intrauterine devices or IUDs, e.g. Miren, or implant, e.g. Nexplanon. But they can make referrals for off-campus providers who have these available. Some methods, like pills, may be available free of charge. Local sex educator and therapist Cay Crow says the most effective birth control option is the one that is most effective for you. If you have a poor memory, maybe taking a daily pill won’t work, so try a semi-permanent option, like an IUD. Planned Parenthood has an online quiz to help you chose a birth control method that’s right for you.


Q: Are there dangers associated with taking birth control?

A: With any medication, there are risks involved. Depending on the type of medication, there may be side effects including intermenstrual spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods  and decreased libido. If you have persistent side effects, you can always carefully switch methods with assistance from a health care provider. There are also some restrictions on birth control methods depending on your age and any health concerns including breast cancer, blood clots, smoking, heart problems, pregnancy,  high blood pressure, severe diabetes or liver disease, all of which need to be reviewed with a health care provider.


Q: How do IUDs work (hormonal)? Why and can they stop periods?

A: An IUD is a little, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets put in your uterus to interrupt the way sperm can move and prevent them from fertilizing an egg. IUDs offer years of protection between three and 12, depending on the version you get. And if you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD removed at any time. There are four hormonal IUDs available in the U.S. Mirena, Skyla, Liletta and Kyleena. All three are made of plastic and release a small amount of the synthetic hormone progestin which thickens your cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the uterus. Hormonal IUDs can cut down on cramps and make your period much lighter. Some people completely  stop getting periods. Hormonal IUDs can help treat people who suffer from severe cramps, really heavy periods and anemia, and can last three to six years.

There’s only one IUD without hormones available in the U.S. It’s called ParaGard and it’s made of plastic and a small amount of natural, safe copper, but be careful of allergies. ParaGard doesn’t affect your periods and can work for up to 12 years.


Special thanks to Trinity Universtiy Health Services, Cay Crow,,, and for their assistance answering these questions!