Women's Health provides information to students regarding the various forms of contraception (for birth control and menstrual regulation) and counseling to help you figure out which method is best for you. Oral contraceptives ("the pill") and condoms are distributed at Student Health at a low cost to students. You can make an appointment with a Women's Health Provider to discuss contraceptive options.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), birth control is a covered benefit without co-pay or deductible for woman with Penn Student Health insurance, bought your health plan through your employer, through your state marketplace, or from another private company. Birth control methods covered by the ACA are birth control patches, birth control pills, birth control rings, birth control shots, cervical cap, contraceptive implant, diaphragm, IUD, permanent contraception methods, emergency contraception and female condoms.

While not all contraceptive methods are provided at SHS, you can check out the links below for more information about contraceptive option that's best for you:


If you are currently receiving medication from an outside provider you can still get contraception from Women's Health by making an appointment to review your medical history and make sure you are up to date with your Pap test. Click here for information about Pap testing.

Click here for the
"Guide for Missed Oral Contraceptive Pills"

Birth Control Options Offered at Student Health

Combined Oral Contraceptives ("COCs")COCs are made of a combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, similar to the natural hormones in your body during your menstrual cycle. These hormones work by thickening cervical mucus, preventing ovulation, and thinning the lining of the uterus. COCs are 99.7 % effective in preventing pregnancy, if taken daily as directed.

See below for specific products offered in Women's Health.

Progestin Only Pills ("POPs")Progestin only pills (also called the "mini pills") are different from combined birth control pills because they contain only one hormone, progestin. The main mode of action is to thicken cervical mucus and thin the lining of the uterus. Although more unpredictable, POPs may also suppress ovulation. Some women may not get regular menstrual cycles on POPs. POPs are 93-95% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Depo Provera InjectionsDepo Provera is an injection of a progestin hormone, DMPA (Medroxyprogesterone Acetate) that is given within the first five days of your period. Each injection prevents pregnancy for three months, so you will need a total of four injections per year. Like other methods of birth control, Depo Provera releases a hormone, progestin, into the body. The progestin in the shot works by preventing ovulation and thickening a woman's cervical mucus to block sperm. Depo Provera is 99.9 % effective and is one of the most effective methods of birth control available when you given at regular intervals every 12 weeks. Depo Provera prescriptions are provided at SHS for pharmacy pick-up.

Male CondomsA protective sheath made of latex/rubber, polyurethane or animal membrane that fits over the penis and keeps sperm from entering the vagina. When used properly, condoms are 85-90% effective in preventing pregnancy. In the event a condom breaks or slips off, emergency contraception is available at Women's Health and at the cashier at Student Health Services for a reduced cost.  It should be used as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours of the unprotected event (refer to "Emergency Contraception"). Condoms are provided for free with a visit to Women's Health and at the cashier in packages of six (6) with your student ID . For instructions on how to use a condom, click here: http://www.factsaboutcondoms.com/videos.php

Female Condoms (not currently available at SHS)The female condom is a thin, loose-fitting nitrile sheath, or pouch, with two flexible rings worn by a woman during sex. One ring lies within the closed end of the sheath, and serves as an insertion mechanism and internal anchor. The other ring forms the external, open edge of the device; it remains outside the vagina after insertion. It entirely lines the vagina and helps to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. There is silicone-based lubricant on the inside of the condom, but additional lubrication can be used. The condom is about 17 cm (6.5 inches) in length (similar to a male condom). The expiration date is five years from the date of manufacture. Its effectiveness ranges from 79% to 95% in preventing pregnancy. The female condom we carry is called "FC2". Like the male condom, you must use a new female condom for each act of sex.

Emergency Contraception

For more information click here.

Typical failure rates of birth control:

  • Depending on which type of birth control:
    • ParaGard IUD: 0.8%
    • Mirena IUD: 0.2%
    • Implant: 0.05%
    • Injection or "shot": 5%
    • Combined oral contraceptives: 5%
    • Progestin only pill: 5-7%
    • Patch: 9%, but may be higher in women who weigh more than 198 lbs.
    • Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring: 5%
    • Skyla: 0.4%

There are two basic ways to get hormonal contraception through Women's Health:

1. Women's Health providers can give you a prescription for your current medicaiton and you can take it to the pharmacy. Students on the Penn-sponsored insurance plan (PSIP) can fill contraception prescriptions without a co-pay or deductible for most generic brands.

Students on PSIP also have the option for a mail-order pharmacy program and have 3 months of medication mailed to your home at no cost to you. Please discuss this with your Women's health provider.

2. Students who do not have PSIP can purchase contraceptive products at Women's health. The list below is the hormonal contraception that we currently offer.

At Women's Health birth control pills are purchased for $15.00/pack.

Women's Health carries the following oral contraceptive brands:

Tarina 1/20 EE 20 mcg/0.1 mg also known as Norithindrone; Gildess; Junel; Microgestin
Aubra EE 20 mcg/0.1 mg also known as Levonogestrel; Sronyx; Orsythia; Aviane; Alesse
Cryed EE 30 mcg/0.15 mg also known as Desogestrel; Reclipsen; Desogen; Ortho Cept
Lyza 0.35 also known as Norethindrone; Micronor; Errin
Chateal EE 30 mcg/0.15 mg also known as Levonogestrel; Nordette; Levora; Portia

NUVA RING: Although we do not offer Nuva Ring at Women's Health, patients interested or actively using the Nuva Ring can make an appointment with a Women's Health Provider to obtain a prescription.


  • Traveling?  Please be sure to plan your contraceptive needs a few weeks prior to your departure.  Don't wait until the last minute! Taking a prolonged car or plane trip while on combined hormonal contraception (ie Birth control pill, Nuva Ring, Evra patch) can slightly increase your risk for a deep vein thrombosis ("blood clot") in your arm or leg.  Please click here for more information.
  • Need a refill of your medication? Call our convenient pill refill line at 215.746.1020. Your order will be ready the next business day and when SHS is open. Click here for more information on refilling your medication.