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The Cost of Contraceptives

Choosing between short-term contraceptives and LARC

You may be wondering what really is the difference between long term contraceptives and short term contraceptive methods?

Well the short answer is that long term contraceptive methods will protect you against unwanted pregnancies for a year or more without you having to go and get the method checked on every month by a trained professional. And short term contraceptives will protect you from unplanned pregnancy for a period of one to three months before you have to go back to the clinic to get the method topped up.

However, when it comes to choosing the right contraceptive method, there are two primary factors you should consider:

1. Your needs firstly:

1.1. How long you want to stay pregnancy free,

1.2. How often you can access a clinic,

1.3. If you are forgetful with medication

1.4. If you mind your period getting disrupted

2. Your budget off course:

Once you have established what your needs are, then looking at each method and what the opportunity cost of each would be can also help your pocket out and also ensure that you are protected against unplanned pregnancy.

If you are looking to stay pregnancy-free for at least a year, here are alternative options available to you that could be more cost effective and convenient for you in the long run:

1. Long-acting reversible contraception options (LARC)

Long term contraceptives are introduced into your body once, and will last between three, five and ten years depending on which method and brand one uses. The three primary types of the long term contraceptives are the copper IUD (intra-uterine device), also known as the ‘loop’, the Mirena (a hormone releasing IUD)and the Implant. You only pay for these methods once, and that is when they are fitted.

The loop is a small plastic and copper device fitted into the uterus, which prevents the egg from being fertilised by the sperm. It is immediately effective and active for five to 10 years, depending on the model. It can be removed at any time if you decide that you are ready to conceive. To have the loop inserted at a Marie Stopes clinic costs R240 for protection for up to 10 years, also bearing in mind that it can be removed when you are ready to conceive. Wouldn’t getting the loop be a bargain!

The implant is inserted under the skin and releases hormones that prevent the eggs from being released and meeting the sperm. It is active for three to five years and can be removed at any time to restore fertility. The once-off cost of the implant ranges between R1,800 at R2,100

2. Short-term contraceptives

Short term contraceptives will protect you from an unplanned pregnancy for a period between a month and three months. The short term methods need to be topped up every month, two or three months at your local clinic, hospital or pharmacy. The short term options range is:

2.1 Combined Pill
2.2 Injection
2.3 Patch
2.4 Male and Female condoms

The combined pill is the most well-known short-term contraceptive. It is a pill that contains two hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) to prevent the egg from being released. You take one pill at the same time each day, but if you forget to take it, or if you’re also taking anti-biotics, or if you’re physically ill (nausea or diarrhoea), it may not be effective in preventing pregnancy.

The South African government offers certain brands of the pill for free, while others range in price and start from about R90 per month up to R350. The type of pill you take will depend on how it affects your body, so it’s always best to chat to a doctor or nurse about choosing the right pill. You will need to acquire or purchase the pill every month.

The injection is active for either two or three months, depending on the type you choose. It is injected into the buttocks, and stops the egg from being released. After the two or three-month period has passed, you must have another injection to continue to be protected from unplanned pregnancy. The cost of the injection is between R90 and R250 which you must pay every time you top up your contraceptive injection.

The patch looks a bit like a plaster and is applied to the buttocks, arm or thigh to prevent the egg meeting the sperm. You apply one patch per week for three weeks, and then have one patch-free week. Like the pill, it is only active when you’re using it correctly. As soon as you stop using it, you will no longer be protected against unplanned pregnancy. The patch can range in price from R200 up to R400 depending on the brand that you use. Again you will pay this amount every time you purchase a new supply each month.

Again it is important to make sure that you have decided what your contraceptive needs are and that the method you end up selecting works for your lifestyle and your budget. From the brief descriptions above if you plan on staying pregnancy free for no less than a year it is worth thinking about R240 for a method that will get you through that time frame in comparison to a monthly method that would cost you R100 a month for a 12 month period. I leave the maths up to you then…

I know the facts, but I still need help choosing a contraceptive method!

No problem – that’s what we’re here for. The staff at Marie Stopes is trained to help you select the best type of contraception based on your needs, your body and your budget.

Contact us now for professional, confidential advice, or make an appointment to pop in at your nearest Marie Stopes centre.

Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)

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