There are more options than ever to help prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Many factors go into making this important decision. What once was a good method for you a few years ago may not fit your busy lifestyle and schedule now, and new options may have become available. Your UHS clinician can assist you in finding the right method for your individual needs and preferences, including options for those who are ready to think about family planning.
Many methods of contraception are available at the Tang Center. If you would like general information about the options available at the Tang Center, a great first step would be to make a free health education appointment (this is a counseling visit only).
- If you are ready for a prescription or to start the process to obtain an IUD, diaphragm, Depo-Provera, or implant, please schedule an appointment online with a clinician or call the appointment office at (510) 642-2000. Appointments are usually available within 24 hours.
- You can, refill or renew oral contraceptives, patch or rings without an appointment through a UHS Nurse via eTang messaging!
Prescription-based methods like birth control pills, diaphragms, Nuvaring, Xulane patch, Nexplanon, Depo Provera shots, and IUDs (ParaGard, Mirena, and Skyla) are all covered 100% by Berkeley SHIP. For students with other insurances, prescriptions may be available for some methods to use at a pharmacy covered by your insurance. Some methods like the implant Nexplanon or IUD require 2-3 visits for completing the informed consent process and procedures. Your clinician will be able to help you time the proper start to these very effective and long-acting contraceptives.
For more information:
- UHS handouts: Birth control options; oral contraception; Minipill; Diaphragm; Mirena, ParaGard; Depo Provera; NuvaRing.
- Planned Parenthood
- Bedsider: side by side comparison of contraceptive options
- "How Likely Is It That Birth Control Could Let You Down?" New York Times, 2014
Emergency Contraception (EC) is available for use if a condom breaks, slips or is not used. EC is not as effective as using a method of contraception preventively but very helpful and safe to use if an "accident" occurs and the woman wishes to avoid pregnancy. It must be taken within 5 days of exposure, the sooner the better. Plan B or Next Choice can be purchased without a prescription by anyone. Ella is available by prescription only, is covered by Berkeley SHIP, and can be requested from your clinician or clinic; it may be better tolerated by some but have some specific instructions that you should be aware of.
Family planning - pregnancy
If you become pregnant - planned or unplanned - the next few steps depend on your needs and the timing of the pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time where particular attention and care is recommended, and certain medical conditions require additional management and treatment during pregnancy. Due to the specialized nature of pregnancy-related care, all patients are referred to medical providers outside the Tang Center for ongoing care and treatment.
Thinking about getting pregnant?
For many people, pregnancy is a time filled with hope and joy. However, it is also a time to reflect on your health and any health conditions that might affect your pregnancy. Some people desire a physical exam or check-up prior just before attempting to conceive, however, this separate appointment is not usually necessary if you have been seeing a clinician regularly.
For those patients interested in planning for pregnancy and newborn care while a student at UC Berkeley the following preconceptional care appointments are recommended
Social Services: With a counselor, you will explore many aspects of balancing your clinical health, social health, and well-being, with the challenges of parenting. SHIP insurance plan information regarding dependent care coverage will be provided.
Clinical Services: During an appointment with a clinician, he or she will review your medical history and discuss ways to optimize your health or recommend updating immunizations/screening tests before becoming pregnant.
Some things to consider:
- What is your blood type? Depending on your blood type, certain medications may be needed during your pregnancy.
- Are you taking a supplement for folic acid? 400mcg per day is the minimum daily requirement in pregnancy. However, current research suggests folic acid supplementation should occur from 3 months to 1 year before conception, and a higher dose 1000-2000mcg of folic acid per day may be beneficial.
- Are you vaccinated for or have documentation of immunity to Hepatitis B, Rubella, Chicken Pox (VZV), or Pertussis? This might be an excellent time to meet with a clinician to discuss checking blood tests to confirm immunity and scheduling needed vaccinations, including a flu shot.
- Do you have any chronic medical conditions that are of particular concern when pregnant or considering pregnancy and conception? Not all medications are safe in pregnancy. Your clinician can help you determine if certain medications should be discontinued during pregnancy and delivery. Also, some health conditions (like thyroid disease, asthma, diabetes) require special monitoring during pregnancy. Certain referrals to high-risk pregnancy specialists (Perinatologists) might need to occur during your pre-conceptional planning.
- Are you concerned about your smoking, alcohol intake, or recreational drug use? It is essential to avoid all alcohol, tobacco and drug use when pregnant. There are counselors at the Tang Center who can help you quit before you become pregnant.
For more information: