Birth Control Is Now Available Over The Counter in Oregon

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Good news for those who may not have insurance, or don’t want to visit the doctor: Birth control is (slowly) becoming available over-the-counter at your nearest pharmacy. That’s right, soon (depending on where you live) you won’t need a prescription.

Right now, the service is only available in Oregon, and it kicked into effect Jan. 1st of this year. Here’s how it works: A woman can walk into her local pharmacy, and fill out a questionnaire about her health. If all systems go, she can get birth control. If the pharmacist refuses to supply her on the grounds of religious reasons, the pharmacist is required to provide suggestions as to where the customer can find birth control.

This all applies if the woman is over 18 years old. If she’s under 18, she’ll still need a doctor’s prescription, though this standard will be relaxed at some point in the future.

It’s also pretty significant that a woman signed this into law: Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law last July.

But Oregon might not be the only state with this law in place for long: California is working out its own law, which is set to go into effect in March. And Colorado and Washington have introduced similar laws within their own respective states. Let’s hope the other 46 states soon see the light and follow suit.

 

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No Shit: People Who Have More Sex Are Happier

Couple in bed (Nairobi Today)

Couple in bed (Nairobi Today)

Happy Friday! Here comes a stat, courtesy of everyone’s favorite superhero Captain Obvious:

The more sex you have, the happier you’ll be.

Please tell me this is common sense and not an earth-shattering revelation.

According to a 2014 study from the University of Colorado-Boulder, led by researcher Tim Wadsworth, there’s a direct correlation between frequency of sexual activity and a person’s “happiness quotient.” And these two factors fed off each other:

“Those who reportedly had more sex were seen to be experience more happiness and vice versa.”

Since this is self-reported information, it’s hard to tell the degree to which subjects experienced more happiness. But hey, if they felt it, they felt it.

But Wadsworth has certainly done his due diligence in determining this assessment: He interviewed 15K+ subjects.

How Has Colorado’s Teen Pregnancy Rate Dropped 40% Within 4 Years?

IUD (NY Mag)

IUD (NY Mag)

Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate has been getting some attention recently. But it’s not for the reason you think; it’s actually for the opposite reason.

From 2009 to 2013, Colorado reported a 40% decrease in teenage pregnancies, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Below is a graph that shows the decline:

Colorado's Birth Rate 2005-2012 (The Washington Post)

Colorado’s Birth Rate 2005-2012 (The Washington Post)

That seems insane, right? But there’s actually an interesting reason behind it.

In 2008, an anonymous donor (later revealed to be the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named after Warren Buffett’s late wife) gave a $23 gift to be parceled out over five years. The gift was to be used for “long-term contraception” for low-income teens and women. Over 30K intrauterine devices (IUDs) were purchased and implemented. This measure was rolled out in 68 clinics, as part of Colorado’s Family Planning Initiative.

The IUDs were found to be a very significant factor in the state’s teen pregnancy decline. The study released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment showed that “the percentage of young women receiving IUDs and implants quadrupled in participating clinics,” and, in a complementary effect, the women receiving IUDs accounted for 75% of the state’s overall teen birth rate decline.

On a national scale, Colorado rose from having the “29th lowest teen birth rate in the nation to the 19th.” This is significant as seven in 10 teen pregnancies in the state are unplanned.

The program expires this summer, and it’s unclear whether it will be renewed. But the numbers definitely speak for themselves in terms of effectiveness.

 

 

How Many States Cover Transgender Medical Care?

Estradiol estrogen pill (Open Minded Health)

Estradiol estrogen pill (Open Minded Health)

As the transgender community continues to gain visibility in mainstream culture, the issues they face will become more common. Receiving proper medical care is one such issue that will continue to gain prominence.

Last week, Oregon became the latest state to cover transgender care under Medicaid. According to NPR, services include hormone therapy (for example, giving a transwoman estrogen pills), puberty suppression and gender reassignment surgery. Other states with health coverage that cover transgender care include California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Vermont. (New York made the decision to cover gender reassignment surgery just last month.)

Only 14% of the United States covers transgender medical care by state. Let’s hope the population’s new visibility helps other states make the right decision to include medical care for transpeople.