Birth Control: An Overview

There are several different types of birth control out there, but deciding which kind (if any) is right for you takes time, research, and thought. If you’re interested in birth control, our physicians and staff will work with you to find a good fit for your contraceptive needs.

As a quick overview, below are some common forms of birth control you may consider using. One isn’t necessarily better than another, it just depends on what is right for you.

Hormonal IUD: IUDs are small, nearly undetectable, and prevent pregnancy for at least one year (sometimes up to five years). Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by releasing a very small amount of a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel each day. The progestin acts locally in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Non-Hormonal IUD: Non-hormonal IUDs prevents pregnancy thanks to a tiny copper filament wrapped around the T (the shape of the IUD). We offer both the Paragard (non-hormonal) and Mirena (hormonal) IUDs. Call us for more information about these methods.

Implant: The implant is a very small rod inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm to provide birth control. It’s invisible and prevents pregnancy for up to 4 years.

The Shot: Sometimes called “Depo”, the shot is an injection of the hormone progestin that provides birth control for three months. It can be administered at home or by a healthcare professional.

The Patch: The patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that looks like a square bandage. It’s easy to use and works like the pill, but you only need to change your patch once a week.

The Pill: Combination birth control pills are a daily medication that contains two hormones (estrogen and progestin) to prevent pregnancy.

The Ring: The ring is a small, flexible piece of plastic that’s inserted into the vagina to provide birth control. It works like the pill, but only needs to be inserted once a month.

Condom: Condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control out there. They slip over the penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina.

Internal Condom: Sometimes called a female condom, is a pouch you insert into your vagina. It is a method that gives you lots of control. Internal condoms work the same way that condoms do, except that you wear one on the inside instead of on a penis. They keep sperm inside the condom and out of your vagina.

Diaphragm: A diaphragm is a dome-shaped, silicone cup that’s inserted in the vagina hours before sex to prevent pregnancy. To work effectively, it needs to be used with spermicide to block sperm from reaching eggs.

Cervical Cap: A cervical cap is a silicone cup you insert in your vagina to cover your cervix and keep sperm out of your uterus. To work effectively, it needs to be used with spermicide.

The Sponge: The sponge is a small piece of white plastic foam that’s inserted in the vagina. It can be inserted up to 24 hours before sex.

Spermicide: Spermicide is a chemical that you put deep into your vagina right before sex. Spermicide can be used by itself, or combined with other birth control methods.

Emergency Contraception: Morning-after pills can be used after sex to stop a pregnancy before it starts. Most brands and generic pills are available at stores without a prescription. You can also pick up emergency contraception (Plan B) at any of our clinic locations.

If you have questions about birth control methods and would like to talk to someone and/or schedule an appointment to meet with one of our physicians, call our EmpowerLine at 877-835-1090.

Advertisements

Counseling at Whole Woman’s Health

We know that healthcare doesn’t just mean taking care of your body—it requires care for the heart and the mind, as well. We specialize in woman-centered, non-judgmental counseling. Our counselors will listen to you, and respect your values.

Our counseling services are either free of charge, or very affordable, depending on the nature and length of the counseling session. Please call us if you’d like to arrange a designated time to talk.

We provide the following categories of counseling sessions. These can be attended either by yourself, or with a support person:

Pregnancy Options Counseling

Facing an unplanned pregnancy can raise some complex issues, regardless of what you decide. Some women just need to talk through the decision with someone outside their life. Other women know what they plan to do about the pregnancy, but need to talk to someone about issues related to the decision, like relationships, values, or personal development. No matter what’s on your mind, we want to help you approach the abortion decision with a calm spirit and a healthy heart.

Special-Case Abortion Counseling

At Whole Woman’s Health, we understand that there are many reasons why a woman might have an abortion. Some of our staff have been working with women in the abortion field for most of their lives. We have skilled counselors who are able to discuss the most difficult situations, from fetal anomalies to domestic abuse and rape crisis intervention. We’re confident that we can help you through this difficult time, and help you come to a peaceful decision.

Post-Abortion Counseling

While many women do not experience difficult feelings following their abortion, some do, and it is important to acknowledge these feelings as part of the healing process. We understand that a decision can be right and still be sad. We are here to listen and offer support.

Local Counseling and Therapy Referrals

Please contact us for a list of pro-choice, woman-centered therapists in your area who can provide you with longer-term individual or couples counseling.

Feel free to call our EmpowerLine at 877.835.1090 to talk, get questions answered, or to schedule an appointment at any of our clinic locations.

Official Statement from Whole Woman’s Health on SB8

Senate Bill 8 is an omnibus anti-abortion bill that Governor Abbott signed on June 6, and it goes into effect September 2017.

SB 8 furthers the stigma around abortion. This bill requires unnecessary restrictions and puts forward the false notion that abortion care medicine, including the people who provide abortions and the women who need them, require onerous monitoring and regulatory interference by the state.

SB8 bans D&E (dilation and evacuation) procedures used in abortion care – it is one of the safest and most common outpatient procedures; bans the donation of fetal and embryonic tissue for medical research; requires monthly reporting, as opposed to the current yearly reporting requirement for abortion statistics – this adds unnecessary administrative burdens on physicians; and requires fetal and embryonic tissue to be buried and cremated by medical providers.

At Whole Woman’s Health, we have a history of fighting back for our patients and their right to safe, legal abortions. Our supreme court victory last summer in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case gives us a strong ground to stand on in Texas and across the country.

What we continue to see over and over again is that overzealous politicians continue to play with women’s lives and this has to stop. Texans deserve better.

Just four days after our historic Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt win, the Department of State and Health Services tried to pass a fetal cremation administrative rule that would further stigmatize abortion and served as a clear defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision in our case.

In January 2017, we sued the state of Texas over the Department of State and Health Services regulations that required the burial or cremation of fetal and embryonic tissue, just like in SB8. Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the lower court’s stay to the 5th Circuit.

As always Whole Woman’s Health will lead Texas in providing high quality abortion care services across the state, and in challenging bad laws that harm women whenever we need to. Texans deserve the dignity to make their own healthcare decisions and this includes access to safe, legal and compassionate abortion care.

Despite the passing of SB8 and the potential litigation that may follow, we want to let Texans know that abortion is still legal in Texas, up to 20 weeks and that Whole Woman’s Health is still providing safe, compassionate abortion care services in our McAllen, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio clinics.

The signing of the law does not make any immediate changes. If you have an appointment for an abortion or are needing one, know that nothing has changed yet. If you have any questions regarding your appointment, feel free to call our EmpowerLine at 877-835-1090.

Even though this law is scheduled to go into effect in a few months, we will not sit idly by and are committed to fighting all laws that strip women from making personal healthcare decisions. We will continue to advocate for our patients and educate our communities about these laws and how they negatively impact Texans.

SB 8: What it means for Texas Abortion Providers

The Texas Capitol

The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill on Friday, May 26, and is now on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk awaiting his signature in order to become law. While this legislative session began with 30+ anti-abortion bills, SB 8 is the most important anti-abortion bill to come out of the Texas legislature since 2013.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Perry called a special session to ensure House Bill 2 passed. Whole Women’s Health challenged the constitutionality of HB 2 and that lawsuit made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down portions of the bill June 27, 2016, concluding that benefits of medical laws have to justify the burdens they impose on women.

SB 8 is sponsored by state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and was originally introduced to ban the donation or sale of fetal tissue, and prohibit “partial-birth abortion” (non-medical term), medically called a D and X procedure, which is already banned by federal law.

However, when SB 8 went through the house chamber, several additional amendments were added to the bill. In addition to banning intact D and X, and prohibiting the sale or donation of embryonic or fetal tissue, SB 8 now requires embryonic or fetal tissue to be buried or cremated, requires monthly electronic reporting from the abortion physician, excludes ectopic pregnancies from the legal definition of abortion, and criminalizes the use of surgical instruments to cause fetal demise in a D and E abortion procedure.

So, what does this all mean? Here’s a breakdown:

Bans Intact D and X

SB 8 prohibits physicians from performing the intact dilation and evacuation (D and X) abortion procedure, often referred to as “partial-birth abortion” (non-medical term). This type of abortion procedure is already illegal, based on federal law (Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003).

Prohibits the sale or donation of embryonic or fetal tissue

SB 8 prohibits a person from donating human fetal tissue, placenta, or an umbilical cord, and prohibits a person from offering to buy, offering to sell, acquiring, receiving, selling, or otherwise transferring human fetal tissue for money. Fetal tissue has been used in medical research since the 1930s, often for developing vaccines, and studying disease and terminal illnesses. Federal law already bans the sale of fetal tissue for profit (National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993).

Requires Embryonic or fetal tissue to be buried or cremated

The bill codifies into law regulations adopted by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requiring tissue from abortions and miscarriages to be buried or cremated, and ban facilities that provide abortion services from using standard methods of disposal.

In January, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking Texas from implementing these regulations, as they offer no medical benefit to women. At the time of this writing, it is unclear if these requirements can go into effect while there is pending litigation on a similar bill.

Requires monthly electronic reporting by the physician

SB 8 includes additional reporting requirements for abortion providers, who would be required to provide monthly, electronic reports to the DSHS. This amendment to the bill changed the original requirement of annual reporting to now require monthly reporting, which adds administrative burdens onto individual physicians. This part of the bill also requires use of an electronic reporting system which has yet to be created.

Legal definition of “Abortion” excludes removal of ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than the uterus. If not treated, an ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding, infection, and sometimes death. If a woman undergoes surgery to have an ectopic pregnancy removed, it is not considered an abortion (using this bill’s definition).

Criminalizes D and E Abortion Procedure

SB 8 includes a ban on “dismemberment abortion” (non-medical term) unless the procedure is, “necessary in a medical emergency.” The ban targets the dilation and evacuation, known as a D and E, procedure commonly used for second-trimester miscarriages and abortions. The D and E is the safest, most-common second-trimester abortion procedure and would be a crime under SB 8, making second-trimester abortion less accessible for Texas women. Currently, similar bans in Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Kansas are blocked, while a similar measure in West Virginia was vetoed.

While many of these amendments won’t affect daily life at our clinic locations or for our patients, it is worth noting that no part of this bill makes a currently safe procedure any safer. Sponsors of this bill openly admitted that it has nothing to do with women’s health, but instead is part of a strategy to end legal abortion in Texas.

Ft. Worth: Comedy for Access, Clinic Beautification

Andrea Ferrigno, Lizz Winstead, Amy Hagstrom-Miller, and Eunice.

Last week, our staff members from Whole Woman’s Health joined forces with those on “The Vagical Mystery Tour” – Co-Creator of “The Daily Show” Lizz Winstead, Comedian and Actor Ian Harvie, and Comedienne Joyelle Johnson – for the “Don’t Mess With Access” comedy show, which benefitted Whole Woman’s Health and their advocacy arm, Shift.

Winstead is also the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Lady Parts Justice League, which is a reproductive rights organization that uses humor to fight back against anti-choice activism and legislation.

During the “Don’t Mess With Access” comedy show, ticket holders got a chance to hear some diverse (and hilarious) comedy, sign up for mailing lists to get involved in the cause and get merchandise from Lady Parts Justice League, Whole Woman’s Health and Shift.

After the show, Winstead moderated a talkback with TEA Fund Executive Director Nan Kirkpatrick, Whole Woman’s Health Corporate Vice President Andrea Ferrigno, and Whole Woman’s Health Founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom-Miller.

The following day, Lady Parts Justice League volunteers, including Winstead, Harvie and Johnson, visited our Whole Woman’s Health Ft. Worth clinic location to plant shrubs outside and around the building. They also coordinated lunch for the entire clinic staff, that was provided by Deep Cuts Butcher Shop in Dallas.

While in Ft. Worth, reporters and videographers sat down with Hagstrom-Miller for video and audio footage to contribute to The Story Exchange, a non-profit digital media project showcasing entrepreneurial women around the world. We are looking forward to hearing Amy’s voice added to this database of extraordinary women!

We owe a giant thank you to Lizz and the Lady Parts Justice League for making these events so powerful for everyone. In just two days, our staff met so many new people, had lots of fun, and put in work to continue our mission to provide quality, accessible abortion care to women around the world.

Facts on Plan B

Plan B is a form of emergency contraception, also known as the “morning after” pill. Sometimes the original plan for contraception doesn’t work out, and because of this, we offer Plan B at all of our clinic locations for under $25.

So, what exactly is Plan B? How does it work? Let’s take a look at the facts, and what you can expect should you need to take emergency contraception.

What is Plan B & How does it work?

Plan B emergency contraception helps prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex or birth control failure. The sooner it’s taken, the better it works.

It contains levonorgestrel, the same hormone used in many birth control pills—just at a higher dose. It should not be used as a regular method of birth control, because it’s not as effective. It also does not protect the body from STDs.

Plan B is often confused with medication abortion, or the “abortion pill”. It is important to note, Plan B will not terminate or affect an existing pregnancy.

Emergency contraception works by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It may also prevent fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg), and/or prevent attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb)

What are the side effects?

Some women may experience side effects when taking Plan B, which may include:

  • A period that is lighter, heavier, early, or late
  • Nausea
  • Lower abdominal cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vomiting

Some women may have changes in their period such as spotting or bleeding before their next period. If your period is more than a week late, you should get a pregnancy test and follow up with your healthcare provider. If you vomit within 2 hours of taking the medication, call a healthcare provider to find out if you should repeat the dose.

If you experience severe abdominal pain, you may have an ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy and should get immediate medical attention.

Where can I get it?

Plan B is sold at many retail stores, right on the shelf. It can be purchased without a prescription. We also have Plan B available at all of our clinics; find a clinic near you here.

If you have additional questions about Plan B, regular birth control, or reproductive health, call our EmpowerLine at 877-835-1090.

The Whole Woman’s Health Difference

Vision

We are here to change how women experience themselves in the world; women’s healthcare is our venue.

Philosophy

We have a holistic approach to healthcare. We understand that women experience medical issues with their whole selves, often including their families, their religion/beliefs, their history and their dreams. We listen to women, trust women and are here to guide them through their choices.

Mission Statement

We are women’s health care providers specializing in abortion. It is our mission to welcome and treat the whole woman – her head, her heart and her body. We provide education, counseling, informed consent, medical care, and trust. We honor women’s hopes, dreams and intentions in the care that we provide.

“Whole Woman’s Health offers care for women, by women. We provide an unparalleled patient-centered setting where the focus is on the whole woman—her body, heart, and mind.”

Whole Woman’s Health is a privately-owned feminist organization, committed to providing holistic care for women. We are a group of women’s clinics providing comprehensive gynecology services, including abortion care. It is our philosophy that each woman must be at the center of her own healthcare decisions, and that treating each woman holistically— honoring her head and her heart as well as her body — will better serve women and improve women’s health and happiness in our communities.

Our facilities are run by an outstanding team of Board Certified and licensed physicians, counselors, medical assistants, and patient advocates. All our facilities are accredited by the National Abortion Federation and we are members of the Abortion Care Network. We are proud to be a woman-owned, woman-centered, progressive business.

Whole Woman’s Health was founded in 2003 by Amy Hagstrom Miller, who saw a need in our communities for a more holistic model of healthcare. “Abortion and other reproductive decisions are not simply medical matters,” says Hagstrom Miller. “When a woman makes a decision about her pregnancy and her body, she undergoes an intense evaluation of her beliefs, identity, goals and dreams for the future.”

Since its founding in Austin TX, Whole Woman’s Health has opened seven facilities nationwide, and sees more than 30,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare.  We are extremely active in politics, training and education within the communities we serve.

We are committed to destigmatizing abortion and creating safe spaces for all people whether it’s within our clinics or in the communities they live in. As such, we have created a Whole Woman’s Health Abortion 101 Program for advocates, activists, community partners, state legislators, media, medical professionals and staff that is giving at any of our Whole Woman’s Health locations throughout the country.  This program serves as a way to experientially go through the process of what a woman would experience when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. By deconstructing the nuanced conflicts, emotions, language and conversations surrounding abortion, it is our philosophy that this will help people empathize and help shift the way that people talk about abortion.