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Contraception, Reproductive Health, and Family Planning Resources

If you are not ready to get pregnant or have a child, you should consider accessing contraception, reproductive health, and family planning services. These services aim to help people prevent unwanted pregnancies, help families achieve a desired number and spacing of pregnancies, provide pregnancy testing and counseling, and maintain and achieve overall health and wellness.

Individuals are encouraged to talk to their primary care provider to learn more about available contraception (birth control) methods that best suit their needs along with additional reproductive and family planning services, such as sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening or testing, that may be beneficial to them.

Individuals who have health insurance may call the number on the back of their health insurance card to find a provider or learn about covered services in their area. In addition, the following resources are available in Pennsylvania. 

  1. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Service's SelectPlan for Women is a Medical Assistance program that provides family planning services. SelectPlan for Women covers outpatient family planning services only. These services include:
    • Family planning counseling and coordination of care;
    • Medical history and physical exam;
    • Limited pharmacy services including birth control supplies and medication, and supplies to treat STDs and vaginal infection; and
    • Limited laboratory services including testing for STDs, cervical cancer, HIV, anemia, and sickle cell disease
  2. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are health centers that provide services to people regardless of ability to pay. FQHCs also serve people who have health insurance. Many FQHCs in Pennsylvania provide contraception and family planning services. Some of these services may be free and/or low-cost to eligible people. Find a FQHC near you. 
  3. The Pennsylvania Department of Health's Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Program provides management of STD service delivery, education, training, surveillance, and support to professional healthcare providers and community-based organizations. The Sexually Transmitted Disease Program maintains a list of statewide STD clinics by County.
  4. The Pennsylvania Department of Health's Family Planning Program provides support to the statewide family planning clinics by Pennsylvania's for regional Family Health Councils.
  5. Healthy pregnancies are essential for the well-being of infants, families, and communities. The Department of Health has compiled Licensed Hospitals with an Obstetric Unit and Birth Centers in Pennsylvania, along with additional pregnancy resources.

Emergency Contraception

If you have an encounter where an unwanted pregnancy is a risk, emergency contraception may be an option. Emergency contraception refers to methods of contraception that can be used to prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse. Emergency contraception should not take the place of regular contraceptive methods. Emergency contraception is not an abortion. An abortion ends an existing pregnancy; emergency contraception prevents a pregnancy from occurring.

  • The two main types of emergency contraception are copper IUDs (which must be inserted by a physician) and oral medication.
  • The copper IUD is the most effective method for emergency contraception. A copper IUD can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex.1
  • Some oral emergency contraception medications are available over the counter at your local pharmacy.
    • For example, Levonorgestrel – also known as Plan B, One Step, Option 2, etc. – is available over the counter without a prescription.
  • Though a provider's prescription is not required for an over-the-counter medicine, it is recommended to discuss your options with a provider. Alternatively, a pharmacist can guide you on how to use the oral emergency contraception.
  • Oral emergency contraception works best when taken soon after sexual intercourse, often within the first 72 hours. To avoid pregnancy, patients should prioritize taking emergency contraceptives as soon as they are able. A pharmacist or healthcare provider can best guide you on the timing of the emergency contraception.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has answered some common questions about emergency contraception, which can be found on their website.
  • If you take an emergency contraceptive but miss your next period, please talk to your primary care provider, or visit a reproductive health clinic to talk about next options.