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Birth Control Considerations if You're in the Military

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Choosing a method that's right for you (including when you're deployed).

If you’re deploying soon or in the future, you might not think you’ll need birth control. However, many servicemembers find that they do need it once overseas. Remember, people use birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, like making their periods lighter, preventing menstrual migraines, and controlling acne.  

Whatever you want your method to do for you while you’re deployed, the providers at your nearest The Right Time health center can help you get the birth control you want at a free or low-cost. 

Here are some things for servicemembers to think about when choosing a method: 

  • Will you need refills of your method during your service? If so, can you get them for your entire deployment? If that’s not feasible, the IUD or implant may be a better method as each can work for years without any refills. 

  • Will your method help you manage your periods? The pill and the ring can let you control your periods, and other methods (the shot, the implant, hormonal IUDs, and the progestin-only pill) may make periods lighter or go away. This can be helpful at times when accessing a bathroom is hard. 

  • Will the method be okay in your climate? If you’re deploying someplace very hot, the patch might not be your best bet (sweat makes it hard for it to stick).  

  • Will you be able to store your method in a refrigerator? The ring must be refrigerated before you use it, so confirm you’ll have refrigerator access for refills. 

  • Will the method work with your schedule? If your schedule will be unpredictable, you may not want a method you take daily. 

  • Will your method work with the level of privacy you will have? If you prefer a method that no one knows about, an IUD, the implant, or the shot are great options. 

Updated June 2021

Kate Grindlay, MSPH, is an Associate at Ibis Reproductive Health.  When she isn’t working to improve women’s health, Kate can be found hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

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