You may have heard people suggesting that if you want to be sure you'll have birth control for the next four years, you should book your IUD insertion appointment now. You may not have considered an implant when choosing your birth control, but don't dismiss the idea out of hand.
Illustration by Angelica Alzona.
If You Want Birth Control That Lasts the Next Four Years, Get an IUD or Implant
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a set-it-and-forget it birth control method. After an initial office visit to get it inserted, you won't have to worry about buying birth control — or nappies — for at least five years. If you get the copper type, you're good for 10. Another option, an implant that lives under the skin of your arm, lasts for four.
According to Better Health Channel, a copper IUD will cost around $120 and is not covered by health care. The hormornal implant that goes in your arm is covered, and costs around $6 with a health care card and $37 without.
These long-acting methods are the most effective and foolproof out of any type of birth control. They may seem expensive, but Levonorgestrel (the Pill) will cost you around $20-50. Over time, the cost of a IUD may still be cheaper than other methods.
How to Decide If an IUD Is Right for You
We've written a guide to birth control options and an explainer on IUDs. Check those out if an IUD sounds like a good idea. For more information, especially if you're not sure which type is best for you, talk to your health care provider.
Call around before you visit, though. Some providers are still working with outdated information and may turn you down because of your age or because you haven't had children. If that's the case, hang up and call someone else. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that IUDs are an excellent choice even for teenagers.
Another good reason for calling ahead is that not all providers keep IUDs in stock — remember, they are expensive. Ask if they can have one ready to go at your appointment, so you only have to visit once.
Be aware that, five or 10 years down the road, you'll have to get the IUD removed. This is a quick procedure (basically, your provider just pulls on the strings) but it requires another office visit. And no, it's not safe to try to remove it yourself.
If an IUD doesn't sound like the right method for you, that's fine. Consider your other options, but don't be put off the best choice for you just because the idea of an implant scares you.