Contraceptive FAQs

Birth Control Pill FAQs

What should I do if I'm experiencing side effects from my birth control pills?

First establish whether you may have a rare but serious effect from pills, and if so, medical care should be sought immediately for the following: 

NOTE IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THE "ACHES"
“A”- abdominal pain. unusually severe or persistent pain under the lower right ribs that could indicate liver or gall bladder problems.
“C” – chest pain. sudden shortness of breath and sharp, localized chest pain which is unrelated to other causes.
“H” – headaches increased number of migraine headaches or a severe headache with dizziness, visual changes, weakness or a change in your mental state, such as confusion.
“E” – eye problems sudden visual loss or blurring
“S” – severe leg pain tenderness, pain, redness in one calf or thigh that is unrelated to injury or overuse.

If you have just begun taking birth control pills and do not have serious side effects, continue to take them for approximately three months since it takes your body time to get used to the new hormones. If you are still unhappy with the prescription after three months, make an appointment with a clinician.

Minor side effects include nausea, bleeding between periods, no period, breast tenderness, emotional changes, and complexion changes. Minor side effects usually resolve with time. Some of these can be lessened by making small changes. Contact the Pharmacy at (831) 459-2360 or read your handouts for suggestions.

What should I do if I forgot to take my pills?

Each manufacturer provides instructions to their unique product. If you have questions, call the Pharmacy at (831) 459-2360.

What should I do if I've run out of packs of pills and I have no refills left?

  • If you received your prescription from the Student Health Center Pharmacy, please contact the Pharmacy at (831) 459-2360 to see if you have any refills left. If not, submit an online birth control request and a health care provider will respond via secure message to your request within three business days.
  • If you received your prescription from an outside clinician, contact their office and request additional refills. If you can't reach them, submit an online birth control request if you have UC SHIP or CruzCare. 

Who should I contact if I have general questions about birth control?

Birth Control Patrol is an anonymous drop-in resource offered at SHOP throughout the week. Highly trained students can offer information on contraceptive options and assist students in making appointments at the Student Health Center (with UC SHIP) or assist in finding health clinics off campus if they don't have the Student Health Insurance Plan. Additionally, SHOP is here to support students and their partners around preventing pregnancy. This peer to peer service is here for you!


Emergency Contraception (EC) FAQs

Can I get EC if I don't have UC SHIP or a prescription?

Yes, emergency contraception is available without a prescription to all UCSC students of any gender.

What options are available?

The most commonly known medication is Levonorgestrel Emergency Contraception (EC) AKA Plan B, Next Choice, EContra EZ.  It is available at the pharmacy without a prescription. Take it as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure (for instance, if a condom broke or you forgot to take your pill).

Ulipristal AKA Ella is an alternative EC which can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse, which requires a prescription, so you will need a visit to a clinician or a pharmacist. To do so, make an appointment, visit the Student Health Center's Same Day Clinic, or contact the Pharmacy at (831) 459-2360.

What are the directions for taking EC?

Take one tablet as soon as possible within 72 hours after unprotected sex.

Are there any side effects after taking EC?

Side effects are minimal with EC. Some patients may experience mild nausea and some people get temporary breast tenderness until their next menstrual cycle. EC will often change the timing for menstruation.

How effective is EC?

EC is effective approximately 90% of the time when used within 72 hours. It is not 100% effective. It is more effective the sooner you use it. You must use contraception consistently at all times to prevent pregnancy. If you use EC and don't get your period within 3 weeks, then you need to get a pregnancy test (available at the Pharmacy).

What about payment for EC?

We will put the fees your student bill. The UCSC billing statement only states "Pharmacy" and lists the amount you paid.

Does UC SHIP cover EC?

With a prescription, UC SHIP covers EC and covers 100% of the cost.