This Birth Control Method Might Change Your Life For The Better

Women's Health

As I embark on my journey of becoming a sex therapist, I learn more and more that without justice-justice there is no reproductive justice. We're fighting for them to take us serious at the doctor's in life or death matters, so how the f*ck do we get them to care enough to provide us with the proper information on contraception? The answer to this question is a lot more long-winded than we can get into right here and now, but what our sordid history with white supremacy at the intersection of medicine (especially in the reproductive realm) has taught us anything, it's simply this: be knowledgeable and aware of said history, then take that knowledge and demand what's best for your body and your choices.

My greatest recommendation is finding a doctor who looks like you if at all possible, but if that's not possible, here is the lowdown on one type of birth control that gynecologists and clinicians aren't talking about nearly enough and when they do, it seems to be disproportionately pushed on black and brown bodies in a way that can be "eerily" off putting — LARCs, or Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. I believe this is birth control info that everyone should have access to, so we're making it accessible!

This type of contraception lasts anywhere from three to twelve years, depending on which one you select and if you don't like it, it can be immediately removed pending a doctor's appointment. For those that are hormonal, the major implications of hormones will reverse almost immediately after removal in many cases. However, as always, it's worth mentioning that everyone's body is different and thus those results might be different.

LARCs fall under two categories: Intrauterine Device (two variations, one is nonhormonal) and the Implant.

No IOUs, Just an IUD

Method: IUD (Hormonal - Progesterone Only) Shutterstock

Seemingly, the most commonly known LARC is an IUD. The IUD is a 't'-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into the uterus as the name might imply. So with the copper IUD, that little 't' comes wrapped up in copper while the other forms of an IUD are plastic with a synthetic variation of progestin known as levonorgestrel shooting out like a battleship in a game of Galaga. With the copper IUD, it also acts as an alternative to over-the-counter emergency contraception and is most effective than if taken within five days (the sooner, the better) for those who thought they had a pullout game or simply had the misfortune of having a shitty condom.

You might have heard about this from older generations of women who experienced the horrors of the Dal-kon Shield, where the string from the IUD was causing infection in many women and a doctor continued to push them despite knowing this. Other physicians were never informed, as a result, women were deemed infertile in some cases and dead in others. This was during the 70s when the IUD rose to popularity in the US (despite being on the market since the 50s), it has since been remodeled to avoid these complications. As of today however, there are very rarely complications with IUDs. In fact, for some it has become the BFF of birth control.

For women who have contraindications for hormonal contraception, there is a nonhormonal option within this category of LARCs. It's a copper IUD by the name of Paragard. Paragard boasts about being the only of its kind in that is 100 percent hormone-free. You're probably asking yourself, well how can this birth control method effectively prevent pregnancy if there are no hormones involved? To keep it simple, sperm doesn't like copper so when the two cross paths, sperm scurries back away from the vaginal canal.

The other forms of IUDs, non-copper or hormonal IUDs, release progestin in order to thicken the cervical mucus and block eggs from crossing the barrier.

Eggplanted or Implanted

Nexplanon (formerly known as Implanon), or the implant contraceptive, work the same as hormonal IUDs in that they rely on progestin to create a barrier of mucus to keep eggs from traveling through. They are another form of long-acting reversible contraceptives and are inserted between the biceps and triceps. It takes on a simple shape as a small, plastic rod about the length of your pinky finger and the width of a sliver or a "matchstick." Both methods are 99 percent effective with typical use, making them more effective than any other method of birth control on the market.

As an FYI: typical use is the use outside of labs that takes into account user errors such as forgetting appointments, pills, etc that would dilute the effectiveness of birth control.

Unfortunately, they have a similarly deceptive and disappointing history to the Dal-kon shield with one of the first models of the implant to be popularized — Norplant. But even worse, the government pushed incentive during the 90s for women on welfare to get the implant inserted as a modern answer to the eugenics movements. These terrifying histories have created mistrust in even the most well-meaning physicians and rightfully so.

One Size Fits All

Birth Control 101: Choosing The Best Contraceptive Method For You

There are still some doctors who don't feel comfortable inserting IUDs into women who have yet to have children, according to them it is more of an uncomfortable insertion when the cervix has never been dilated in a big way. Then there are doctors who simply don't feel comfortable and this may or may not have to do with their own feelings towards it, implicit bias, or a lack of knowledge on their part. The reality is that the IUDs are slightly different in size and none of them are big or small enough to truly make a difference in the discomfort that has notably been associated with womanhood. To that effect, there is actually little to no pain associated with insertion of either of these devices, however, there can be quite a bit of bruising after having it inserted.

Also, what I will disclaim is that in removing the implant it requires the doctor to make a small incision. In some cases, the implant may move over time and may require a little more pressure to find and remove. Nonetheless, this pain is not even pain but more like I described before — discomfort. If ever you are unable to feel the implant in your arm, it's important that you make an appointment with your doctor.

Show Me the Money

The short-term cost of LARCs are hands down more pricey than that of other upfront cost for your barrier methods and your oral methods. But when we look at the long-term cost that includes transportation, prescription cost, etc over a lifetime it is far more cost effective to get a LARC. Still, I'm aware of the barriers that may be in the way of getting these methods, especially with the Trump administration. It goes without saying you should check with your insurance (Medicaid included), companies first to see if they cover LARCs but if not, there are resources such as Planned Parenthood that offer income-based payment options.

This was hugely important for me as someone whose insurance was funded through a Catholic organization, and I've had my implant funded through PP twice now. Without aid or insurance, the cost of LARCs can be hundreds of dollars, specifically ranging from about $400 to nearly $1000 (or more). Bedsider makes it easy for those who may not have insurance to check out local clinics that might offer these methods at low to no cost.

Here at xoNecole, we are not physicians and by no means are we suggesting that you go forward with this method without speaking to your gynecologist, namely to ensure there are no contraindications that might put you at risk when using a LARC. What we are suggesting is that women stay armed with knowledge and potential options that may work for their bodies, especially if we see that our own physicians are not providing this info. But especially as birth control is not a one size fits all band aid that they try to make it out to be by pushing certain methods on certain groups in the way I've seen and heard of them doing with Depo-Provera.

If knowledge is power, then I can't imagine the weapon we might become if we continue to push for knowledge that affords us true reproductive justice, as it allows us to do what we feel is best for our bodies for us to move through life comfortably.

While reproductive advances may have been created to eliminate our existence and reduce our right to bodily autonomy, you being informed is an act of resistance and you deciding what works for your body—well, that's us taking control in ways they never imagined—regardless of what we choose.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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