What College Students Need to Know About Birth Control Given Today’s Political Climate

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has heightened the importance of birth control. Twelve states now have laws banning abortion, and two states ban abortions after six weeks. Since women’s rights to bodily autonomy have been placed under attack, it’s essential to take control of your sexual health. 

As a college student, you have the opportunity to plan your education, career path, and future life plans. Learning about birth control can give you tools to help protect your dreams and desired family timeframes. Outlined below are four things every college student should know about birth control. 

1. Where You Can Get Birth Control 

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, people became frantic to learn what healthcare services they did or didn’t have access to. This panic led to a lot of misinformation circulating on social media about birth control access. Although some constitutional law experts are concerned this right will be threatened in the future, Americans still have the right to birth control. 

As a college student, you’re busy juggling school, work, and social obligations. You likely don’t want to spend an afternoon hanging out in a doctor’s office. Luckily, more companies are making it easy for people to get birth control online. Subscription birth control options let you skip the in-person doctor’s appointment and are discreetly delivered to your home. The time you would have spent at your doctor’s office or driving to the pharmacy can now be spent hitting the books. 

Whether you order medication online or visit your doctor in person, you’ll likely receive low-cost or free birth control through your health insurance. But what if you don’t have health insurance or don’t want to use your parent’s health plan? Depending on your legal status and income, you may qualify for government programs that help pay for reproductive care. To learn more about your birth control costs, consider contacting your local Planned Parenthood center. 

2. The Types of Birth Control 

There are over 15 different methods to prevent pregnancy. While some work better than others, there’s no single “best option.” However, understanding the different types can help you make a more informed decision. 

The three main distinctions between birth control methods are hormonal, non-hormonal, and permanent. Hormonal birth control includes the birth control pill, patch, shot, and ring. Non-hormonal options include condoms, diaphragms, and spermicide. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) can be hormonal or non-hormonal. Permanent birth control options aren’t generally recommended for college-aged individuals. However, some doctors will perform a tubal ligation or a vasectomy under certain circumstances.   

If you deal with challenging hormonal issues like heavy periods, severe acne, or period cramps, your doctor may recommend hormonal birth control. Hormonal birth control options prevent pregnancy and improve hormonal imbalances through the use of artificial hormones. Furthermore, hormonal options are extremely effective with typical use, making them a great option for students who aren’t ready to become parents. 

3. What Your Birth Control Does and Doesn’t Protect Against

While there are numerous birth control options that prevent pregnancy, only condoms can protect you from sexually transitted infections. Both female and male condoms work by creating a physical barrier that prevents STI transmission through bodily fluids. This is 90% effective at protecting you from STIs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, it’s slightly less effective at protecting you from STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact like herpes or syphilis. 

Outside of proper condom use, there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your partner from STIs. HPV is an extremely common STI that can be prevented with a vaccine. This vaccine protects you from up to 90% of HPV-related cancers and most HPV strains that cause genital warts. Many children receive this vaccine between the ages of 11 and 13, but if you’ve not yet received your shot, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. 

Since STIs are common, it’s important to get tested before and after having sex with a new partner. This helps you get the treatment you need if you’re infected and prevents infections from spreading to others. Your insurance should cover STI testing, but if you’re uninsured, ask your local health department if they offer low-cost STI screenings. 

4. What to Do If Birth Control Fails 

In this post-Dobbs world, there is a lot of anxiety about what happens if your birth control fails. Is the morning-after pill still an option, or is it now illegal? Luckily, morning-after pills, like Plan B, are still legal in every state. 

Pregnancy doesn’t occur the moment you have sex. Sperm can live inside a vagina for multiple days, which is why it’s still possible to get pregnant days after having sex. The morning-after pill helps protect against pregnancy by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg. Since many women don’t know when they ovulate, it’s best to use the morning-after pill as soon as possible. 

A less common, but more effective, option for preventing pregnancy post-unprotected sex is an IUD. Women can get certain IUDs within five days of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Unlike the morning-after pill, an IUD works just as well on day five as it does on day one. 

Protecting Your Bodily Autonomy 

Although the government has restricted access to critically important healthcare, there are still steps you can take to maintain bodily autonomy. Knowing how to prevent pregnancy helps ensure that if you want to have a child, you have it on your own terms. Not because you had no other choice. 


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