Here's how much more birth control costs women than men: The price of condoms, pills, IUDs and more

In 1995, a Harris poll conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 73% of women and 70% of men believed men were "not responsible enough" to choose a birth control method.

More than two decades later, gender equality has finally been realized — and men and women share equivalent responsibility for buying birth control

Just kidding!

Actually, more recent research shows women are still the ones who usually take care of pregnancy prevention, even in long-term relationships.  

And, as if that isn't enough of a mood killer, the truth is birth control tends to be — proportionately — a much bigger expense for women than men.

Most birth control methods aimed at women cost more than common options for males; plus, women experience a gender pay gap and earn lower salaries than men, even when controlled for education and occupation. Frustrating.

Just how much more are women paying compared to men? Let's take a look.

Birth control methods carry very different costs for men versus women

Although both men and women need birth control, women are typically the ones paying for IUDs and pills used to prevent pregnancy — since they're the ones who visit the doctor.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that contraceptive spending accounts for about 30-44% of a woman's out-of-pocket health care spending.

Furthermore, while women have more options for birth control methods, those choices tend to be more expensive. The chart below shows common per-dose prices of birth control methods available to men and women.

Source: Christy Rakoczy/Mic

A woman on the pill could spend up to $50 monthly — or $600 annually —  according to Healthline. And that's not even factoring in the cost of a doctor's visit to get the prescription.

If a man paid $1 for condom every time he had sex, he'd need to get busy 50 times a month to spend the same amount.

Men's Fitness reported the average American has sex 103 times a year, which averages roughly nine times a month. If you compare a $9 condom expense — one for each of those nine times — to a $50 price tag for a pill prescription, the problem becomes more obvious. 

What birth control methods are most popular?

Guttmacher Institute study found only 8% of women rely on a man's vasectomy to prevent pregnancy — and just 15% of women put their trust in male condoms as their contraceptive of choice. 

What are women doing instead? According to Guttmacher Institute, 12% use an implant or IUD; 26% rely on oral contraceptives; and 25% use female sterilization. Fourteen percent of women use other methods. 

Kaiser Family Foundation provides similar numbers, but their data — from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — shows slightly higher condom use and more reliance on male vasectomy. 

Kaiser shows about 23% of women ages 15 to 44 rely on male condoms, whereas 9% rely on male sterilization. Still, the majority of women used other approaches including hormonal pills (roughly 27%) and IUDs (about 11%).

Furthermore, women also face other birth control challenges men don't. For example, doctors are sometimes reluctant to perform sterilization procedures on young women, even if the women don't want kids.  

Permanent birth control can be riskier for women, too. WebMD warns that while a vasectomy is generally "simple and safe" with a low risk of infection or bleeding, a tubal ligation carries risks including "bleeding, infection, damage to other organs, side effects from anesthesia and ectopic pregnancy."

Source: Giphy

What are potential solutions to the birth control gender gap?

For now, at least, the Affordable Care Act has brought birth control costs down dramatically: The ACA's contraceptive mandate resulted in $4.1 billion dollars in out-of-pocket savings, according to Kaiser.

The bad news is the ACA's future remains uncertain.

Another innovation that could help lower costs for women is a male birth control pill. A 2015 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 66% of men were willing to take a male birth control pill; 44% would get a shot; and 36% were interested in birth control implants, U.S. News reported.

Unfortunately, recent research into male birth control options was suspended.

Sign up for The Payoff — your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life. Additionally, for all your burning money questions, check out Mic’s credit, savings, career, investing and health care hubs for more information — that pays off.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Christy Rakoczy

Christy Rakoczy is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and the University of Rochester. She is a full-time writer based in Florida and Pennsylvania.

MORE FROM

Here's the secret to hitting "pause" on your debt

Get rid of debt more easily by getting a 0% balance transfer credit card, trying out new financial management apps, and turning to traditional debt consolidation tactics.

These are the telltale signs your student loan "relief" company is a scam

Student debt relief or loan servicing companies may sometimes have shady business records. Here's how to tell if a firm is real — or a scam or fraud.

5 classes you've never heard of — but that can boost your pay in the future

To earn high pay, these are the best classes to take, as traditional industries face existential crises and new lucrative fields of study emerge.

Why your health care costs could rise under the Senate GOP bill

How the Senate healthcare bill affects you: It could increase out-of-pocket costs, deductibles and premiums for consumers, and cut people from Medicaid, while lowering plan quality.

Tips that pay off: These 5 bits of career advice will get you a job you actually love

It doesn't take much to go from novice to career genius. These 5 easy steps will snag you your dream job.

7 unconscious mistakes that are ruining your job hunt

Sometimes the best career advice is to get out of your own way — and pay better attention to the unconscious mistakes you're making while communicating.

Here's the secret to hitting "pause" on your debt

Get rid of debt more easily by getting a 0% balance transfer credit card, trying out new financial management apps, and turning to traditional debt consolidation tactics.

These are the telltale signs your student loan "relief" company is a scam

Student debt relief or loan servicing companies may sometimes have shady business records. Here's how to tell if a firm is real — or a scam or fraud.

5 classes you've never heard of — but that can boost your pay in the future

To earn high pay, these are the best classes to take, as traditional industries face existential crises and new lucrative fields of study emerge.

Why your health care costs could rise under the Senate GOP bill

How the Senate healthcare bill affects you: It could increase out-of-pocket costs, deductibles and premiums for consumers, and cut people from Medicaid, while lowering plan quality.

Tips that pay off: These 5 bits of career advice will get you a job you actually love

It doesn't take much to go from novice to career genius. These 5 easy steps will snag you your dream job.

7 unconscious mistakes that are ruining your job hunt

Sometimes the best career advice is to get out of your own way — and pay better attention to the unconscious mistakes you're making while communicating.