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Women’s Health Clinic offers many accessible contraception options
The University Health Services (UHS) Women’s Health Clinic provides consultations, prescriptions, and insertion and removal of all contraceptive options. Contraception can be used for pregnancy prevention and/or health benefits unrelated to sexual activity, such as cancer prevention, acne control, and improvement in menstrual bleeding and cramps.
Committed to improving and sustaining access to contraception on campus, the Women’s Health Clinic implemented several changes in recent years including open access appointments for students seeking many forms of contraception.
“If a student wakes up and decides ‘Today I want to come in and talk to someone about contraception,’ our clinic reserves appointments throughout the day so that there is availability,” says Dr. Mary Landry, a gynecologist at the Women’s Health Clinic.
Open access appointments serve students who are concerned about pregnancy, have health problems treated by contraception, are victims of an unwanted sexual encounter, or who are motivated to talk about or start a more effective form of contraception, says Landry.
A second strategy to increase access includes telehealth visits. In 2014, the Women’s Health Clinic began offering telehealth visits for IUD consults to increase access and reach students beyond those who make appointments for contraception consultations in the clinic. This type of consult uses a combination of website links and written instructions through myUHS secure messaging. Telehealth consultations resulted in twice as many IUD insertions in the fall 2017 semester after implementation compared to fall 2016.
“When students make a decision about which device they want, we can provide a single-visit IUD insertion and avoid additional consultation visits,” says Landry. Adding more staff with IUD skills has increased capacity. “We now have four of our six Women’s Health Clinic providers who can perform this procedure.”
“Medical staff in the Women’s Health Clinic regularly evaluate student barriers to contraception access, including financial,” says Landry. “In 2016, our nurses worked with the UW Health pharmacy to address insurance barriers to long acting reversible contraception and were able to increase access to IUDs from 148 students to 320 students the following year.”
There are two components to the cost of an IUD: the device cost and the insertion cost. The cost of the IUD insertion is free through student segregated fees, and most insurance providers cover the cost of the device.
For uninsured students, there are options to access contraception at a reduced cost or for no cost. These programs have been in place at UHS for more than 10 years. Uninsured students who are U.S. citizens can get the family planning waiver through access.wisconsin.gov, which allows students to access free contraceptive services and supplies. UHS can help any uninsured student obtain a progesterone IUD at no cost through the ARCH foundation.
For students who decide they want to start oral contraceptives or a vaginal ring the day of their consultation, UHS offers a “quick start” voucher program that pays for one pack of contraception, even if students are uninsured.
“This allows time for family planning program funding to come in to pay for the rest of the prescription,” says Landry.
With continued efforts to address access barriers, beginning next month, the Women’s Health Clinic will pilot a new Telehealth appointment for all types of contraception. If a student is interested in starting a form of contraception other than Nexplanon or an IUD, they will be able to schedule a phone appointment in MyUHS and get their prescription that day without having to come to the clinic.
All students can access information about contraception options and women’s health services available at UHS through at https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/medical/womens-health-contraception/. To make an appointment with UHS, call 608-265-5600 or login to MyUHS.
Written by Allison Chang, UHS Marketing & Health Communications