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The Mamafesto: A look at what’s been happening with birth control choices

A recent Guttmacher report on contraceptive use in the U.S. noted that a much higher proportion of married women (77 percent) than of women who have never been married (42 percent) use some sort of contraceptive method. So, it’s no surprise that birth control is an important topic for many mothers.

According to the Guttmacher report, the most popular methods of birth control are nonpermanent methods, mostly hormonal ones like the pill, the patch and the IUD, but also condoms. However, is a once-popular non-hormonal method that had fallen out of favor in recent years poised to make a comeback? It’s the diaphragm, but it’s being marketed as a hip, youthful birth control option. Unlike the diaphragms of yore, Caya is one-size-fits-most, due to its special shape.

The only downside is that if not inserted properly, Caya’s effectiveness at preventing pregnancy drops from 94 percent (the same as the pill) to 88 percent. But, for those who are wary about using hormonal methods and are not interested in using condoms, the new and improved diaphragm might be just what you’re looking for.

However, if you’re a fan of the pill and happen to live in Oregon, you might be pleased to know that the state has just approved being able to get birth control pills without a prescription! Oregon has joined California as one of the only two states in the country where you can get the pill directly from a pharmacist without a doctor’s visit or prescription. In addition, if you live in Oregon, you will be able to get up to a year’s worth of pills at the pharmacy rather than in 30-, 60- or 90-day increments. The new law will take effect in early 2016.

The impact of this law is widespread. Not only does it give women more power when making reproductive choices, but it provides more access for those who may not have been able to afford a doctor’s visit and pills, or those who live in remote areas. Hopefully more states will follow Oregon’s lead and rethink the way they regulate the access to certain female birth control.

Above all, the most exciting birth control-related news just might be the fact that women are saving money thanks to more expansive birth control coverage! NPR reports on a recent study that there were significant savings for those using birth control covered by insurance. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover most forms of prescription contraceptives with no additional out-of-pocket cost. While researchers were expecting some savings, they were surprised at the speed and rate those savings were accrued.

According to the study, the average savings for birth control pill users was $255, and IUD users saved $248. Between savings, easier access, more options when it comes to birth control (and with the possible introduction of male birth control on the horizon), and the new EACH Woman Act, reproductive healthcare is having a bit of an upswing.

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