Medical, Women's Topics

Getting a stockpile of birth control

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Women have been giving birth to babies for millenia, and usually a woman can do it without complication. From studying genealogy I’ve repeatedly seen women who have had 12+ pregnancies and then lived to old age. Pregnancy takes a toll on the body though and carries substantial risks when there isn’t access to good medical care. So for us women it’s an important topic to think about in terms of prepping. Do we want to risk a vulnerable state in time of emergency, when the family we already have is counting on us?

I had a miscarriage at one point which was around 11-12 weeks along — later than most although not quite officially out of the first trimester. I had substantial blood loss and went to the ER because of concern the blood loss had become too much. In the span of three hours my hemoglobin level went from approximately 12.5 g/dl down to 9.0 g/dl. A couple hours later the blood loss had slowed substantially, but I continued to have some bleeding for nearly two months following the miscarriage. In my case the medical care I received was… well… to say it was mediocre would perhaps be generous. However, had my blood loss continued there would have at least been the option of a transfusion. If I’d had retained tissue from the miscarriage (I didn’t) then they could have surgically removed it and given me antibiotics for any infection. Even though the heavy bleeding (okay, hemorrhaging is more like it) stopped within hours, it was a long time before I felt physically back to normal. Due to the blood loss, it was probably a good month before I could walk from the bedroom to the kitchen (about ten feet) without starting to feel out of breath.

Why am I talking about this? It’s certainly not fun to discuss sad topics like these, but it’s IMPORTANT. The night of the miscarriage, one of the main thoughts going through my mind was concern for my other two children who I was not able to care for at that time. For the month afterwards I was able to do the absolute necessities to care for them, and we did lots of cuddling and movie watching, but I wasn’t able to run and play with them the way I normally did. What if the miscarriage had happened during an emergency where my kids were depending on me to protect them from actual danger? What if my husband hadn’t been able to watch them during the worst of it while I was getting fluids and ultrasounds and the doctors were trying to stabilize me and my frighteningly low blood pressure and increased heart rate that was setting off alarms every time I closed my eyes to attempt a nap? Is that a risk I’d want to take in an emergency if I could help it?

That experience, as much as anything, is what made me come to the conclusion that a stockpile of birth control is necessary. It’s not always as simple as “well just don’t have sex” either because we know that things happen to some women even without consent, and in times of turmoil they may be at even greater risk. It can be a touchy subject due to varying religious beliefs and opinions. My daughters are still very young, but eventually they won’t be and I’ll be having to consider this for them too. So below I’m going to include a lot of information and it is up to YOU to do with it as you please. Ask yourself what is wise for your situation, use the information that applies to you, and then move along with your prepping. No pressure, no judgement.

*** Whatever you choose, check the individual packaging for expiration dates. If they were sitting on a shelf for a long time before you purchased them, there may not be as much of the shelf life left. ***

Condoms

Now, this could be as simple as a few boxes of condoms if you feel that is adequate for your situation and those would additionally make good items to have on hand for trade. They have the added benefit of lessening the chance of catching STDs. It does require the cooperation of both people involved. Male condoms are “good” for about 3-5 years, and female condoms for 3 years. Male condoms need to be stored away from extreme heat, humidity, moisture, and ultraviolet light. Check for any damage to packaging before use. They may be usable for longer but the materials will start to degrade and not be as reliable. So next time you’re at the store and pick up a couple extra items to add to your preps, go ahead and add a box of condoms to your cart.

Spermicide

Reasonably effective at preventing pregnancy, they have a shelf life of approximately 2 years and are easily available OTC.

Pills

Hormonal birth control is a very common method, not just for preventing pregnancy but also for managing hormonal problems for some women. If used consistently it’s quite effective and easy and doesn’t rely on the cooperation of your partner. Normally you need to go to the doctor for a prescription and then go to the pharmacy every month for a refill, but there are now many online services that streamline this process, allowing you to get a year’s worth of pills at once and offer it inexpensively. This site (http://freethepill.org/online-pill-prescribing-resources/) has a list which is a good place to start although it looks to me like some of the info may be a bit out of date.

The one I looked into personally is called The Pill Club. It costs $15 for the consult which allows the medical team to legally write a prescription. They quoted me for a generic Norethindron (progestin mini pill) and the prices I was given as of July 2018 were $15 for 1 pack (delivered monthly), $16.51 for 3 packs (delivered every three months), or $54.53 for 13 packs (delivered all at once). They do accept some insurance as well but these prices are WITHOUT INSURANCE. Frankly, if you buy the 3 packs or the 13 packs those are prices that are hard to beat and that allows you to develop a stockpile of birth control which you can rotate out and add to over time as you use it.

(UPDATE: I did end up ordering through The Pill Club. You can find the post showing order contents and explaining how much I paid by reading this article.)

Morning After Pill

Emergency contraceptive pills with levonorgestrel have a shelf life of approximately 4 years and can be used up to 3-5 days after sex. Obviously the sooner it is used after intercourse the better your odds of avoiding pregnancy. As unsettling as the topic is, it may be good to have on hand in the event of rape. Obviously it can also be a good backup in case of condom failure or other accidental situations. Again, potentially a good trade item as well. This could help you via trade and help someone else who has had something bad happen to them. It can be a bit expensive per dose but is available cheaper on Amazon or through some online birth control prescription services as an inexpensive add on.

Diaphragm

Non hormonal birth control, though it is more effective when used in conjunction with spermicide. You’ll need to get a doctor fit you for the diaphragm and write a prescription for you. Then if you have a pregnancy or your weight changes by 10+ pounds you may need to be refitted. To use, diaphragms need to be left in for 6 hours after sex but not left in more than 24 hours. They can be used for about 5 years before needing replaced, as long as there is no damage to it.

Patch

* I was unable to find information on the shelf life of the patch. If you are on a birth control patch currently, please feel free to comment below letting us know how far out the manufacturer’s expiration date is.

Ring

The information I read was specific to Nuvaring, and I found that while it may last for several years, it can only be relied on for FOUR MONTHS when not refrigerated. And obviously in a SHTF scenario it’s hard to rely on being able to keep items refrigerated. I personally don’t feel this is a good method for preppers. If you use it currently, consider stocking condoms or something else in case of emergency.

Shot

The hormonal shot is effective for three months, but isn’t something you can really stock up on yourself. As with the ring, I’d suggest stocking up on an alternate method for emergencies.

IUD

These are effective anywhere from 3-6 years for hormonal IUDs or up to 12 years for non hormonal ParaGard, so you wouldn’t necessarily need to stockpile anything. They do, however, require a doctor to insert and remove. Also, you could run into problems if your IUD falls out or, worse, migrates.

Implant

Birth control implants, specifically Nexplanon, last for 3-4 years. They are hormonal but very reliable and since it is in your arm you don’t have to worry about migration and perforating your uterus (a very rare but very serious risk of IUDs). A doctor numbs the area and makes a small incision both to insert and to remove. Theoretically once the hormones are gone there isn’t a risk to just leaving it in (if you can’t find someone to safely remove), but in my research I did see some anecdotal stories of women having issues (mood swings, anxiety, dizziness, etc) after it had been left in longer than recommended. This could be completely unrelated, or not, but I felt I should mention it.

Vasectomy

Highly effective for the long term with some chances of side effects for the man. If you’re monogamous this can be an excellent option, but not helpful if you have a change in partners during a SHTF scenario or are a victim of rape. Only helpful if you don’t want any (or any more) kids.

Tubal Ligation

Also highly effective, though as with some other birth control methods it can increase chances of an ectopic pregnancy (potentially life threatening without medical care). Aside from the risks of the procedure, this can be a good option if you’re certain you don’t want any (or any more) kids.

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