Why Don’t Women Take Advantage of Free Birth Control in the United States?
The 2010 Affordable Care Act ensured that all insurance plans cover contraceptive care for women, so why is it that insured women aren’t getting on birth control? Let’s take a closer look to see why women aren’t taking advantage of free birth control in the United States.
1. Concern about the side effects
One of the most common conceptions about birth control pills (and other contraceptive methods) is that they cause weight gain and other unwanted side effects. While weight gain was a legitimate side effect of birth control when the pill was still becoming normalized, today it almost never occurs as a result of the pill alone.
Studies have actually demonstrated that the pill has no effect on weight, but you can talk to your doctor about other potential side effects. Different brands do have some different side effects, but your doctor can absolutely guide you through the selection and help you find a contraceptive method that works for you.
2. Worries that birth control causes cancer
Taking hormonal medications can be scary, especially given that some hormones do have a connection to certain types of cancer. Birth control actually does have some correlation to breast cancer incidences, but it also prevents other kinds of cancer, like ovarian and uterine. Talk to your doctor about your family history to make sure that the birth control you are taking will not contribute to your risk of cancer.
3. Not feeling at risk for getting pregnant
This is a big one, and for good reason. In fact, 36% of women who experience unplanned pregnancies say that they were not on birth control because they didn’t think that they could get pregnant. If you don’t believe you are at risk for pregnancy, it’s wise to speak with your doctor anyway about whether you might want to use a contraceptive method. Perhaps you don’t need to take medication for birth control, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to unplanned pregnancies.
4. Not realizing that birth control was covered
Birth control has long been a contentious issue in the United States, with policies varying drastically depending on the administration. If you weren’t aware, the 2010 Affordable Care Act mandated that insurance plans cover contraceptive care. You can read more about that here, but rest assured that if you have insurance, it will cover your contraception.
Aside from the obvious benefit of avoiding pregnancy, there are a number of reasons that taking birth control might be right for you. In fact, only 50% of birth control prescriptions are for birth control only - the other 50% are for the additional benefits. Between the pill, the patch, the implant, the IUD and the ring, your options for birth control are as as expansive as ever.
5 Ways That Birth Control Can Benefit You
1. Easier Periods
By stopping ovulation, the pill is also stopping the host of symptoms that come with the release of hormones from the uterus. The symptoms of a period can include heavy bleeding, painful cramps, mood swings, and more. Birth control helps mitigate all of these symptoms because it stops the hormone fluctuations that cause them.
2. Treating Menstrual Migraines
A migraine is an intense headache that is often so severe that it impedes daily activity. 60% of women who experience migraines associate them with the timing of their period. Studies have demonstrated that migraines can be triggered by a drop in estrogen, which occurs during menstruation. Taking birth control pills can stop the hormonal fluctuations that cause this issue.
3. It can help clear your skin
Here’s something you may not know: women actually make both female and male sex hormones - they just make smaller amounts of male hormones than men do. Some women, however, make more of these male hormones than others, which can cause acne and excessive hair growth. The birth control pill helps slow down the production of these male hormones, and, as a result, many women experience fewer breakouts and less unwanted body or facial hair while taking the pill.
4. It can lower your risk of some cancers
Women that have taken the pill for 5 years or longer have a 50% reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer. This benefit continues even after stopping the pill, which means that taking the pill for 5 years can have a lifetime worth of benefits. This is also the case for endometrial cancer. A recent cohort analysis study showed that for every 5 years a woman takes birth control pills, her risk of endometrial cancer decreases by almost 25%. This benefit carried on through the women’s lives, long after they stopped taking the pill.
5. The pill regulates your period schedule
To anyone that’s taken the pill before, this may seem like an obvious perk. For those that don’t know, though, birth control helps seriously regulate your period schedule. Taking the pill means that you know exactly which week you will be experiencing PMS symptoms and which week you’ll want to carry extra tampons with you. In fact, you can even regulate how frequently you get your period depending on the type of pills or methods you choose. Want to get your period every 3 months? Every 9? Never? Those are all options! Just speak with your doctor to figure out which birth control is the right route for you.
Think birth control might be for you? Speak with one of PlushCare’s world-class physicians today and see what kind of birth control will work for you.