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What types of birth control can I get in Ontario?
Birth control (also known as contraception) is a method of protection that would limit your risk of pregnancy. Most contraception options do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only condoms would effectively protect against STIs.
You should discuss your birth control options with your healthcare provider to choose the one that is right for you. There are hormonal and non-hormonal options and some are more effective than others. Still, none of them are guaranteed 100% effectiveness.
Generally, OHIP does not cover birth control methods. However, people under the age of 25 may be eligible for OHIP Plus coverage or the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program which would cover certain contraceptive options.
You may not want or be able to take hormone-based birth control. Some contraceptive options prevent pregnancy and may be available without a prescription. (e.g. condoms, spermicide, etc.) Hormonal contraception must be prescribed by your healthcare provider.
There are two types of birth control pills often referred to as “the pill”:
- Combination oral contraceptives, which contain both estrogen and progestogen
- Single-hormone contraceptives contain only one hormone, progestogen
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small T-shape piece of plastic, sometimes called a coil. There are two types of IUDs, one contains the hormone progestogen and one is made of copper. An IUD is inserted into the uterus by your healthcare provider. It can stay in place for up to five years.
Injectable contraceptives are often called “the shot” or the brand name “Depo.” This injection, or needle, is given once every 12 weeks by your healthcare provider. This injection contains only the hormone progestogen.
“The Patch” is a contraceptive patch that comes in the form of an adhesive that sticks to the skin like a bandage. The patch continuously releases the hormones estrogen and progestogen through your skin. You would be responsible for changing this patch as prescribed by the doctor on a schedule. Your healthcare provider must prescribe it.
“The Ring” is a contraceptive device that is a smooth, flexible ring made of clear plastic. You will need to insert it into your vagina. It releases both estrogen and progestogen and prevents ovulation. A healthcare provider must prescribe the ring. You are responsible for removing and inserting it based on your schedule.
There are two types of condoms, and both types are often available free of charge at sexual health clinics. You can purchase condoms without a prescription often at pharmacies in the family planning section.
Traditional condoms are worn on the penis. They prevent sperm from entering the vagina. They help prevent pregnancy and protect you against sexually transmitted infections by providing a protective barrier. A condom must be put in place before sexual intercourse and used only once. It is important to know the proper method for putting on a condom, you can find detailed instructions on the Planned Parenthood website.
Internal condoms are inserted into the vagina. They prevent sperm from entering the body and protect against sexually transmitted infections. An internal can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse. It is important to know the proper method for putting on an internal condom, you can find detailed instructions on the Planned Parenthood website.
Diaphragm and Spermicide
Diaphragms or “cervical caps” are a shallow dome shape. They must be placed inside your vagina and applied to the cervix to block sperm before intercourse. The diaphragm always needs a sperm-killing cream or jelly called spermicide to prevent pregnancy. You should leave them in place for six to eight hours after intercourse. This form of birth control is not common in Canada.
What is emergency contraception?
Emergency oral contraception (often called the “morning-after pill”) can be used after unprotected intercourse and must be taken within 120 hours, or 5 days, of unprotected intercourse.
There are different kinds available in Canada. The brand names Plan B® (levonorgestrel) and Ella® (ulipristal acetate) can reduce the risk of pregnancy by approximately 75% if taken within 72 hours and no more than 120 hours. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is.
Plan B® is available “over the counter” in pharmacies without a prescription. Ella® can only be obtained with a prescription from a healthcare provider.
For young people under 25 benefiting from OHIP Plus, the cost of Plan B is covered.
A copper IUD can be inserted by your healthcare provider up to 7 days after unprotected intercourse. It is considered the most effective method of emergency contraception. It also acts as a long-term contraceptive.
Are there any permanent birth control methods?
If you decide you (and your partner, if appropriate) do not want to have biological children in the future, you could discuss sterilization with your healthcare provider.
Sterilization is a permanent method of birth control. There are sterilization options for people of all genders. They both involve minor surgical procedures on reproductive organs in the form of tubal ligation or vasectomy. Sterilization is considered a safe procedure with few complications. These methods are covered by OHIP in Ontario. They are generally “outpatient” surgery meaning you can have the procedure and return home the same day.
For More Information
Check medication coverage This tool allows you to check if a drug is covered by OHIP Plus or the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program. From Government of Ontario.
February 22, 2023