This post is for the ladies. Men really only have one birth control method available to them: condoms. Women have many more options available, but as most women can tell you, birth control isn’t typically cheap. If you want to save a little money without risking parenthood (or another child), here are some cheap birth control options that are also reliable.
Generic Birth Control Pills
If you can tolerate a generic brand of birth control pills, then they may actually be a frugal option. Now before someone argues that generic medications are just as effective as non-generics, that is true of generic birth control pills. However, from personal experience and my doctor’s experience, I can tell you that generic versions often produce negative side effects. One of my doctors refused to prescribe generics because she had too many patient complaints.
Free Sample Birth Control Pills
If your OB/GYN is nice, she may agree to give you free packs of pills every few months. They receive tons of samples, and are usually willing to give them to patients who ask. Since most non-generics cost at least $35 a month, several months of free samples can save you serious cash.
Fertility Awareness Method
Once you know the method and have a basal body thermometer, this method is free (well, you’ll need a pencil and paper, too.) Basically, the Fertility Awareness Method (AKA Natural Family Planning, NFP, or FAM) tracks your morning temperature and other fertility signs like cervical mucus and cervix position to determine when you’re fertile and when you’re not. You either avoid sex or use a backup method like condoms when you’re fertile.
Note, I only recommend this birth control method for committed couples in long-term relationships because it does carry a higher risk of accidental pregnancy if you misread the signs or get carried away by the moment. If you want to learn more, read Taking Charge of Your Fertility (the library should have it.) You can also check out Fertility Friend for free online tracking, or Ovusoft for affordable software ($39 one-time.)
The advantage to this method is that you can immediately start using it to help you conceive once you’re ready to have a baby. You’re also not pumping artificial hormones into your body.
This is not the same as the Rhythm Method. That relies solely on the calendar. Since most women don’t ovulate on exactly the 14th day of their cycle and sperm can survive up to five days in the female body, it’s also very ineffective. You also can’t get by with taking your temperature only. Your temperature confirms ovulation, but it doesn’t predict ovulation. You must use both temperature and mucus tracking to be accurate.
Condoms are pretty cheap and are 98% effective when used properly. Unfortunately, most of us do not use them properly. Read the instructions on the box to see whether you’re actually using them right. If you are, then they’re a perfect option for you. If not, start using them correctly.
Those are pretty much all of the cheap birth control methods. Some people will also mention Withdrawal, but I don’t recommend it. Some couples choose to combine the Fertility Awareness Method with the Withdrawal method (during fertile times.) Teenagers are also foolhardy enough to use this method. Technically it’s free. However, it is also frequently results in pregnancy. Abortions or babies aren’t free. Don’t use this method. Don’t even think about it.
Diaphragms, IUDs, implants, and cervical caps are generally effective, but they’re not cheap. They may be cheaper than non-generic birth control pills, though. An IUD is about $150-$500 to insert, but it lasts for several years. If you plan to use it for more than five years, then it starts to become a cheap birth control method.
Obviously, if you’re not in a committed, long-term, monogamous relationship, then condoms are your only safe option. It’s a good thing they’re pretty cheap. If you’re not willing to risk a baby, then the Pill is more affordable than other options. If you and your partner are willing to accept a slightly higher risk of pregnancy and are comfortable with your body, then FAM is the best cheap option.