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Jour 82: The birth control thing

So, remember how yesterday I was all "2012 is better than the Victorian days for women!"? Well, my very smart ladyfriend Beth noted that yeah, 2012 is better for women "unless you live in a state where your gov't wants to throw your human rights out with the birth control."

Check out this cute Victorian era pinup girl!
Fabulosity cares not what century you live in!

And yes, there's all this craziness going on in the US lately about birth control and why should the government care about that? and Planned Parenthood and pro-choice and pro-life and crazytimes. But that's not what I'm going to write about today, because this is a shopping finance blog.

Which is why this discussion will be of a purely financial dimension. And totally is in no way medical advice, obviously. But I think everybody's used to not taking me seriously as a finance blogger that it would be pretty odd for me to suddenly become a knowledgeable medical blogger.

The relative frugality of birth control

I have given all of these methods a "frugal rating" based on a) how effective they are, b) how much they cost, and c) how effective they are. Because, depending on how much you want or don't want to get knocked up, higher effectiveness may just be worth paying more for.


Richard Chamberlain in The Thornbirds did not do a good job of being celibate.
He did, however, do a good job of being super dreamy.

Cost: Nothing! It's just you and your convictions and your will power.

Relative effectiveness: Hard to gauge. The genius educators at Scarleteen wrote this great piece about how it's basically impossible to tell the effectiveness of celibacy because... you kind of are celibate until you're not. So as soon as you stop being celibate, you aren't part of the sample. Basically, if you are and maintain celibacy and avoid nay sort of hanky panky, then it's perefectly effective. But when you stop doing it? It's 100% non effective. So, I will call this a 50/50 effectiveness rate.

Frugal Rating: This is like a high stakes option. If you manage to do this perfectly, then you're set. But even a little slip-up could be suddenly non effective. So, if you balance the effectiveness with the frugality, I will give this a totally random 4/10.


Adam Levine from Maroon 5 and The Voice is a proponent of this method.
Not that that has anything to do with anything, I just wanted to post a picture of Adam Levine.

Cost: Nothing! 

Relative effectiveness: 96% perfect use/ 73% typical use

Frugal Rating: I randomly assign this 5/10

Fertility Awareness

It works for the Duggars! ... or not...

Cost: Nothing! Although, if you're super into doing this, then you may need to buy stuff like ovulation test, which can cost like $29 for 20 of them. You may also need to buy markers and calendars to chart your cycles and stuff. Still, pretty darn cheap.

Relative effectiveness: 98% perfect use/ 80% typical use

Frugal Rating: 6/10


Cost: You can get condoms free all over the place, but if you don't want to scavenge from Planned Parenthood outlets and high school counsellor's offices, a pack of 100 condoms can set you back about $20.

[True story: when I worked as a cashier during high school, this one couple would come by every month and buy these gigantic packages of condoms. I thought to myself, "Are these two normal-looking people really having that much sex? And surely there's a more cost effective/environmentally friendly way for them to be doing that?" Yes, cashiers may act blase, but we all judge you on the things you buy. FYI]

Relative effectiveness: 98% perfect use/ 85% typical use

Frugal Rating: 8/10

Birth control pills/Depo Provera shots/The Patch

Taking matters into your own hands, like Joan on Mad Men.
Cost: Depending on whether or not you have health insurance, can be around $25/month. For the rest of your child-bearing years. So, not an insubstantial amount of money ($25/month x 30 years = $9000) Also: to maintain effectiveness, you need to keep taking them even when you aren't actually having sex (unlike condoms, which only get whipped out in flagrante). Oh, and Depo Provera Shots and The Patch are comparable - you need to refresh every month, and pay for it (or have it taken from your health insurance). (And if you have other medications, that $25/month can add up quickly)

Relative effectiveness: 99% perfect use/ 92% typical use

Frugal rating: 7/10


There really aren't any cute pictures to use for this section, so look at this sweet picture!
Of a woman who clearly did not use an IUD. Or maybe she did, and that's her niece?

Cost: $300ish, one time cost (it lasts for up to 5 years). Generally covered by health insurance. Since these are generally recommended for and used by women in their mid-to-late 20s (unlike the pill, which teens tend to get prescriptions for), I'll do the math for 20 years. $300/every 5 years for 20 years = $1,200).

Relative effectiveness: 99% perfect use/ 99% typical use

Frugal rating: 10/10

Tubes tied/Vasectomy

"Get yourselves spayed or neutered!"
Cost: Generally covered by health insurance. So, I guess if you don't have health insurance, it could be costly. The internets say it can be like $14,000, which is crazy, but everything costs a lot in the US, so.

Relative effectiveness: 99% perfect use/ 99% typical use

Frugal rating: 8/10 with health insurance, 7/10 without

My source for the stats was Scarleteen's Birth Control Bingo, which is a fun and interesting thing to read and informative even for people who are well out of their teens.

1 comment:

Trista said...

what about diaphragm? I am not even sure prices etc. Fertility Friend app and Toni Weschler's book 'Taking Charge of Your Fertility' are where its at. other than that.. fertility awareness is freeeeee! no ovu tests needed.. they are not always super accurate anyway ;)
plus its just kind of awesome. If we are talking frugality in financial and health terms.. fertility awareness fo sho! I know every method has its "failure" stories, but I did get pregnant after 2.5 yrs with a copper IUD. with FAM, so far so good ;)

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