Unless you’re currently in quarantine with your partner, your sex life has probably taken a big hit. Hell, even if you’ve chosen to ride this out with your S.O., it’s possible that you couldn’t even fathom being horny with everything happening. So regardless of your libido and whether or not you’re in a relationship, you’re probably wondering the same thing: WTF do I do about birth control?
Considering we’re in a global health pandemic at the moment, the questions you have about your birth control are completely valid: Is it safe to go pick up my prescription at the local CVS? Is it really worth the trip to the drugstore when I most likely won’t be having sex with another human for at least the next month? Is it worth fighting my insurance to refill my pack before I can make it to my annual?
And the answers are…well, complicated. So we had ob-gyns walk us through the entire decision-making process below. Read along and make the best decision for your body based on every question you possibly have.
“I’m not leaving the house for groceries, let alone sex. Why bother with BC?”
Nobody has any idea how long this isolation stuff is going to last for, but what we do know is that it’s eventually going to be over. If you don’t want to get pregnant when that day comes, you should probs keep taking your pill.
“The circumstance created by COVID-19 is not an adequate reason to stop taking your birth control,” explains ob-gyn Lyndsey Harper, MD, founder of Rosy. “Most types of hormonal birth control (pills, ring, patch) take a few weeks to be effective. This means when the guidelines for stay-at-home are lifted and you stopped taking your contraception, you will not be protected from pregnancy immediately upon restart.”
“Ugh, but I’m scared to leave my house to get the pill.”
Okay, I totally get why going to the pharmacy doesn’t sound ideal right now. But according to reproductive endocrinology, infertility specialist, and board-certified ob-gyn, Lucky Sekhon, MD, it’s not a legit excuse to stop taking your birth control altogether, because there are other ways to go about it.
“The decision to stop birth control should not be based on not wanting to leave your house to break self-isolation/quarantine at this time,” she says. “There are plenty of other ways to get your hands on birth control. There are many pharmacies that offer convenient delivery solutions.” Try calling your insurance and your pharmacies to see if they have any delivery options. If you have a car, another solution could be finding a drugstore with a drive-through pharmacy.
“If I do go off the pill, how long do I have to be back on it for before I’m protected against pregnancy?”
Like Dr. Harper was saying earlier, birth control isn’t magically going to start protecting you the second you start taking it again after a break. “It is important to be ‘covered’ with at least seven days of birth control, especially when starting the pack randomly, before expecting it to be protective against pregnancy,” says Dr. Sekhom.
Oh, and if this person isn’t your monogamous partner, please for the love of Lizzo do not forget a condom. “It is also important to keep in mind that birth-control pills are not protective against STIs,” she adds. “Safe sex with condoms is recommended unless you are in a long-term monogamous relationship with a low-risk partner, and both of you have had negative STI testing.”
“Mmk, this is lots of pregnancy talk, but I know that’s not happening for me. Is there any reason to continue to take the pill other than avoiding pregnancy?”
Well, if you don’t have any underlying conditions, then no. Buuuut! You might want to consider continuing the pill if it was helping you deal with other symptoms you’d rather not have creeping back up to make your quarantine worse than it already is.
“If a woman started birth control for endometriosis, heavy or painful periods, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, or another medical condition, she could expect those same symptoms might return,” says Dr. Harper. And I don’t know about you, but that on top of all this COVID-19 drama sounds…not fun.
Also, if you had any sort of irregularity with your cycle, you should probs stay on it as well. “Some women who take birth control to regulate their cycle who otherwise would not get a period may have a chronic deficiency of estrogen and, without birth control, would be at risk of having thinner, weaker bones over time,” says Dr. Sekhon.
“Is stopping the pill even going to make a difference in my day-to-day life?”
Yes. Here are just a few differences you may experience, according to Dr. Sekhon:
- Increase in your sexual drive and function.
- Restored ovulation, if you normally have regular cycles.
- Stronger symptoms with your period (i.e hormonal acne, mood swings, breast soreness, etc.)
- Stronger and more painful periods, in general.
So do with all this information as you wish, and obviously make the best decision for you and your body, but from the looks of it, sounds like it may be worth staying on your BC for the time being, ya’ll.