If you're concerned that you might become pregnant and don't have the means to provide for a child, you may wish to obtain birth control to lower your risk of pregnancy. Unfortunately, most forms of birth control are expensive or difficult to obtain. Although male condoms are probably the most affordable, convenient and safest option, they're inherently risky for one simple reason: Their use is typically controlled by the male partner. You must consider the possibility that your partner is using the condoms on which you rely in an improper manner.
Unless he has recently been tested for sexually-transmitted diseases, it's prudent for you to require your partner to use a condom at all times. There is no better prevention against such infections. However, prudence also demands that you seek a second line of defense against pregnancy. An intrauterine device or "IUD" may be your best bet. Although the insertion process can be invasive and unpleasant, these devices are convenient, effective and relatively safe. Since most IUDs remain active for five to 10 years and require relatively little upkeep, you won't have to worry about returning to your doctor or clinic for weekly or monthly follow-up visits.
Planned Parenthood offers sizable discounts on some forms of birth control. Although each office's policies vary slightly, customers can typically receive free condoms upon request. Many offices offer prescriptions for birth control pills at significantly reduced rates. As a Planned Parenthood customer, you may qualify for a six-month prescription for the price of a four-month prescription. If you're willing to live with the potential side effects of oral birth control and feel confident that you'll remember to take your dose each day, you may wish to opt for this form of contraception.
IUDs are considerably more expensive than some other forms of birth control. As such, you may pay just as much for these devices at Planned Parenthood as you would through a private insurer. However, both Planned Parenthood and the makers of the most popular IUDs offer some limited patient-assistance programs for women in dire financial straits.
If you meet certain income requirements, you may qualify for a reduced-cost or free IUD through your local Planned Parenthood office. You may need to visit your office repeatedly and speak with multiple representatives to obtain this benefit. Alternatively, you may be able to speak directly with the device's manufacturer to determine whether you meet its patient-assistance guidelines.