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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Protect yourself

A guide to all things contraception

<p>Condoms at CVS.</p>

Condoms at CVS.

With STD rates on the rise, students may need a refresher on their middle school “sex-ed” classes.

Students are having unprotected sex –– according to The Spectrum sex survey, 23.3% of students who are sexually active say they do not use any form of contraception –– leaving them vulnerable to sexually-transmitted disease diagnoses and unwanted pregnancies. UB offers several types of contraceptives to students for free. All you have to do is schedule an appointment at Michael Hall –– which offers free STD and pregnancy testing –– to find out what best fits your needs. Emergency contraceptives, like Plan B, are available on North and South Campus, but they aren’t cheap.

 In case you need a little guidance, we’ve compiled a list of contraceptives to help you choose what’s right for you.


Free at Michael Hall 

 Condoms have a bad reputation for “decreasing sexual pleasure,” but are an effective and economically safe tool to protect from unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Plus, even if you use other methods of birth control like the pill, without condoms you’re still unprotected from STDs. 

Campus residents can order sex supplies for free –– such as condoms, dental dams and personal lubricant –– through UB’s Student Life website. Student Life delivers the supplies to your mailbox in an unmarked manilla envelope. For non-campus residents, they are available for pickup at Michael Hall. 

 While relatively effective and cheap, condoms don’t guarantee safety. Condoms have a roughly 13% failure rate, according to the CDC.


$30/month or free with most insurance

 Birth control patches are sticky patches that can be applied to a woman’s stomach, back or arms and release progesterone and estrogen into the bloodstream, which help prevent pregnancy. 

The patch must be changed once a week for three weeks and not worn on the fourth week of each cycle. 

Birth control patches are an effective method to prevent pregnancy, but do not prevent STDs. According to the CDC, birth control patches fail to prevent pregnancy around 7% of the time.

 The patch requires a prescription from a doctor.


$1,300 or free with most insurance

 There are several types of birth control implants including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and out-of-uterine implants. 

IUDs are inserted into the uterine wall and can be left there for three to 12 years, depending on the brand. Out-of-uterine implants are generally inserted into a woman’s upper arm. 

Implants are an effective contraceptive for preventing pregnancy, but they do not prevent STDs.

IUDs fail to prevent pregnancy around 0.8% of the time and arm implants fail about 0.01% of the time, according to the CDC. 

Both types of implants can be prescribed and inserted by UB Health Services. Students can schedule consultation appointments to determine which type works best for them online on the Student Life website.

Injection or “shot”  

$75/shot or free with most insurance

 Progestin injections, commonly known as “the shot,” is an effective form of birth control.

Injections are administered by a doctor every three months, which can be inconvenient for some students because they’ll need to schedule and attend regular appointments. If a student’s primary care doctor’s office is not located close to their university, they must register at a new doctor’s office to receive the doses. 

“The shot” is an effective method for preventing pregnancy, but it does not prevent STDs. “The shot” fails to prevent pregnancy around 4% of the time, according to the CDC.

 Reilly Mullen is the assistant news editor and can be reached at or on Twitter @ReillyMMullen.

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Reilly Mullen is the editor-in-chief at The Spectrum. She is a senior majoring in political science with a journalism certificate. She enjoys Dunkin’ iced lattes and Scrabble. A former web, features, news and managing editor, she is a columnist at heart but has covered everything from UB Football to breaking news. 



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