There are several different types of birth control available at Health Services that can fit your lifestyle. Whether it’s something you do every day or don’t have to worry about for 7 years, we have a birth control that’s right for you. Most birth control types are covered by insurance. 

Before starting birth control, we recommend consulting with one of our providers first. They will be able to help guide you to a birth control that is right for you and answer questions.  

Introduction to Birth Control

Birth control helps prevent unwanted pregnancy. It works by releasing hormones into your body that reduce or stop ovulation, thicken the cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering the uterus, and thin the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg is less likely to attach.  

When using birth control, it is still recommended to use barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. In addition to barrier methods, getting tested often can help limit the spread. 

Condoms

Condoms are thin, stretchy pouches that you can wear internally (female condoms) or externally (male condoms). They work by collecting semen during penetrative sex, so the semen does not reach the egg. An added benefit to condoms is that they help protect against STI’s too. It is recommended to wear a condom during all sexual acts, oral, anal, and vaginal sex.  

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are a medicine that is taken daily, and they are most effective if you take them on time. There are two types of birth control pills, combination and progestin-only pills.  

Combination pills are the most common and contain progestin and estrogen. With these pills, you need to take them once per day and they do need to be taken at about the same time. However, it is a good idea to take them at the same time to get in the habit. They typically come in 28-day or 21-day packs, but you can also get 91-day packs (3-month supply).  

The 28-day packs contain a filler or reminder pill that are hormone-free. These are placebo pills that help you stay in the habit of taking one per day at the same time. During this time, you get your period each month. For 21-day packs, you take 1 pill per day for 3 weeks then stop for 7 days. There are no hormone-free pills during this week.  

Progestin-only pills, or mini pills, only contain progestin. These pills must be taken within the same 3 hours every day. They come in 28-day packs and there are no filler or reminder pills, meaning there is no hormone-free week. It is possible that periods become lighter or stop all together with progestin-only pills as there is a consistent flow of hormones. 

Birth Control Shots

Birth control shots, such as Depo-Provera, are given every 3 months to help prevent pregnancy. An additional benefit for shots is that most people have fewer and lighter periods, or they may stop all together.  

Shots work the best when they are given every 12-13 weeks, 3 months. Most of the time, a doctor or nurse must give you a shot. You will need to remember to make an appointment and go to the appointment 4 times per year. 

Implants

Implants, such as Nexplanon, are a flexible plastic rod that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. They work by releasing a low, steady dose of hormones. 

Nexplanon can prevent pregnancy for up to three years. At any point in time that you wish to stop, you can make an appointment to get it removed. An additional benefit is that some people who get the implant have lighter periods, or they stop all together. 

Ring

A birth control ring, such as NuvaRing, is placed inside your vagina which absorbs the hormones through your vaginal lining. Each NuvaRing lasts up to 5 weeks and needs to be replaced each month. It’s most effective when it is used correctly and is replaced on time.  

You can choose to get or to skip your period each month. To continue your cycle, keep the ring in for 3-5 weeks then take it out for 7 days, and replace. If to stop your cycle, replace the ring on the same day. If you choose to skip your cycle, you may have some bleeding or spotting.  

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An IUD is a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T, that’s put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there. There are two types of IUDs, hormonal (Mirena 7 years, Skyla 3 years, Liletta 7 years & Kyleena 5 years) and copper (Paragard 12 years).  

Hormonal IUDs work by releasing a hormone to prevent pregnancy. An additional benefit to hormonal IUDs is that periods may become less frequent, lighter or may stop all together. 

Copper IUDs use copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm doesn’t like copper which makes it almost impossible for sperm to get to the egg. Since copper IUDs do not use hormones, periods will stay the same. 

Health and Wellness Services will always be here for you for all your sexual and reproductive health care needs. Our nurses have been working with college students for years and will be able to give you the best birth control advice tailored to you–that you won’t be able to get at other off-campus clinics. Always remember to wear condoms in addition to birth control to stop the spread of STIs.  

To schedule an appointment, call our appointment line at 507.457.5160. 

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Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson graduated in 2020 with a degree in Art: I-Design. As a student, she worked with the University Marketing & Communications team as a writer and photographer. She was hired after graduation to support public health communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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