Having a child can be insanely expensive—according to government reports, raising a kid until the age of 17 will cost a middle-income family close to $235,000.
But trying not to have kids—well, that’s not necessarily a bargain, either. The average woman spends close to 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy, says the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization.
No matter the birth control method you choose, it’s going to add up over time.
This is where being an educated consumer has its privileges, especially because prices vary widely—depending on your prescription, your pharmacy, and of course your health coverage.
Cost is just one factor you have to take into account when it comes to birth control. It has to fit your lifestyle as well as your wallet.
“If you regularly forget to take your pill, it might be worth it to choose a longer-acting method such as the implant, injectable or IUD,” says Rebecca Wind, spokesperson for the Guttmacher Institute. They might be more expensive, but they could be more effective.
|Birth Control Type||What It Is||Cost|
|The Pill||Daily hormone pills that keep eggs from leaving ovaries and thicken cervical mucus, preventing an egg-sperm rendezvous. Oral contraceptives can make your periods more regular, lighter and less crampy. But they can also lessen sexual desire and there is a risk of blood clots for women over 35. Oh, and you have to remember to take it every single day.||$15-$50 a month*|
|Implant (Implanon or Nexplanon)||It’s a plastic implant about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin of your upper arm and releases the hormone progestin to prevent ovulation. It can be used if you’re breastfeeding and you don’t have to remember to take pills, but it can cause irregular bleeding and has a hassle factor—it has to be inserted/removed by a doctor.||$400 to $800, but lasts up to three years*|
|The Patch (Ortho-Evra)||This small hormonal patch gets applied to your skin once a week for three weeks. Then you leave it off for one week. Like with the pill, it can cause more regular, lighter, and shorter periods. If you want to get pregnant, just stop applying it. But you have to remember to change it once a week, and hormones can cause breast tenderness, lessen sexual desire, and spur irregular bleeding.||$15 to $80 a month, or up to $600 a year*|
|The Shot (Depo-Provera)||Another hormone method, which is administered via an injection every three months. You can use it while breastfeeding and only think about it once a quarter. But like the other hormone approaches, it can cause irregular bleeding and your sex drive can take a hit. Plus, if you change your mind you have to wait for the shot to wear off.||$35 to $75 per injection, or up to $300 a year*|
|The Ring (NuvaRing)||A small, flexible ring inserted into the vagina once a month. It’s left in for three weeks, left out for one, and then you insert a new one. It causes lighter and shorter, periods, but can also cause irregular bleeding and increased vaginal discharge/irritation.||$15 to $80 a month, or up to $960 a year*|
|IUD||A small T-shaped device is inserted into the uterus. An IUD primarily works by keeping the sperm from hooking up with an egg. This is one of the longest-lasting methods out there. It can mean lighter periods (or none at all). But you’ll likely have spotting at first and might experience cramping. There’s also a small risk of infection.||$500 to $1,000 but last from 5 to 12 years, depending on the brand*|
|Diaphragm||This is a physical barrier, a shallow silicone cup inserted into the vagina that covers the cervix. It’s used with spermicide for maximum effectiveness. There are no hormones involved, so none of those side effects. Some cons are that you have to insert it before having sex, which can be inconvenient. It can increase urinary tract infections and you need to be refitted every couple of years. Plus you may be sensitive to spermicide.||$15 to $75 (plus the cost of spermicide)*|
* Prices vary widely, depending on your prescription, your pharmacy, your insurance.