As our nation and the world focus on managing COVID-19, maintaining our reproductive health is essential. This includes access to contraception and addressing unintended pregnancy. Right now, looking after your reproductive health allows the health care system to focus on this pandemic.

Let’s talk about sex. Love and intimacy are going to help us all get through this strange time, so if you are having sex, make sure you are being safe. A general good rule to follow: do not have sex with someone unless you are willing to be quarantined for two weeks with them. If you are not actively trying to get pregnant right now, keep reading!

Dr. Nina Ball

Regarding birth control, all non-essential trips out of the house, including trips to medical offices, are discouraged. Providers, pharmacies, and insurers should be working around these new restrictions. If you need a refill you should call, email, or portal message your birth control provider; many providers are offering refill prescriptions without an in-person visit.

Make sure you talk to your provider about getting the maximum amount of refills of your birth control. Colorado law allows a 12-month supply of birth control if you have been taking it for at least three months. If you have not been on your birth control for three months, talk to your provider about getting at least a three-month supply.

If you need a new prescription, the first step is to call a provider or use one of many online options. The Planned Parenthood Direct App starts at $25 per pack of pills. Nurx, an online provider that accepts insurance, can provide the pill, the patch, the ring and the shot. If you don’t have insurance, Nurx birth control costs as little as $15 a month.

Unfortunately, some forms of birth control will be difficult to access while minimizing contact during the coronavirus pandemic. IUDs require an in-person visit; if you do want this option, you can call your provider to talk about it — some clinics may still allow them. Nexplanon, the arm implant, similarly would require in-person visit.

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If you are undecided on the type of birth control that makes the most sense for you, you can call your provider to schedule a tele-medicine visit to discuss. Under the Affordable Care Act most insurances provide no copay birth control. But make sure you talk to your insurer about what types of birth control they cover without a copay!

If you cannot access these options or do not want to, if you are waiting for your prescription to arrive, or waiting for your method to be effective, use condoms (or another barrier method).

Amazon Prime has several options that can be delivered straight to your door, and Cobalt now has a supply of condoms you can order for free!

If all else fails, the ‘morning after’ pill, which most people know the brand name Plan B, is emergency contraception for unprotected or underprotected sex (i.e., if your condom breaks). Amazon Prime has options starting at $11. Nurx charges $20 without insurance, or as little as $0 with insurance, for emergency contraceptive pills.

Pharmacies might be able to deliver emergency contraceptive pills, so it may be worth calling your local pharmacy. If you need these more urgently, Colorado law allows emergency contraceptive pills to be sold over-the-counter in most pharmacies. Make sure you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before leaving and as soon as you get back in your car and home. Stay at least 6 feet away from others and do not touch your face!

If you are experiencing an unintended pregnancy and considering abortion, call a provider first to see what they suggest and what their current policies are. We have a list of trusted providers on our Cobalt abortion fund website. If you are less than 10 weeks pregnant, you may be a candidate for medical abortion, which can be provided via telemedicine in the state of Colorado.

Abortion is an essential health care service and maintaining access to it is important. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other reproductive health care organizations released a statement: “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care.

“It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible. The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.”

For all other reproductive health care needs, providers are largely shifting to telehealth consultations whenever possible. Unless you are experiencing an emergency situation, call first to see how your provider is currently practicing.

Stay safe and stay sane everyone!

Dr. Nina Ball just graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in December 2019 and will be starting her family medicine residency in June of this year at Swedish Medical Center in Denver. 

Special to The Colorado Sun