Family Planning and Birth Control

A woman’s ability to access family planning, which allows her to choose whether and when to have children, has a direct impact on her health and well-being, as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy. Family planning is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility. We work to ensure that women and men across Vermont have access to quality family planning services, including services that support achieving a healthy pregnancy, preconception health care services, contraceptive services and screening for and treating sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Family Planning Services

The CDC and the U.S. Office of Population Affairs provide recommendations for Providing Quality Family Planning Services (QFP), which describe:

  • What services should be offered in a family planning visit—i.e., contraceptive services, pregnancy testing and counseling, helping clients achieve pregnancy, basic infertility services, preconception health services and STD services. 
  • How these services should be provided by drawing upon existing recommendations and filling gaps where needed.
  • Services available for female and male clients and special populations, such as adolescents and provide detailed guidance on contraceptive services.
  • Using the family planning visit to provide selected preventive health services, such as breast and cervical cancer screening.

Improving Vermonters' Access to Family Planning

The Health Department administers the Title X Family Planning Services Program. This work is carried out in partnership with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and supports Title X services in 10 Planned Parenthood clinics across the state. The goal of Vermont's Title X program is to provide high quality clinical family planning and related preventive health services, education and counseling to Vermonters who would otherwise not have access, with a special focus on low-income and rural populations. 

Birth Control

The average woman spends 30 years of her life trying to prevent a pregnancy. Birth control — also known as contraception — prevents pregnancy and allows people to plan the timing of their pregnancy. There are a variety of birth control methods available. Understanding your options includes knowing what type of methods are available, how it works, how effective each method is and understanding possible side effects. It’s best to discuss your options with your health care provider so you can make the choice that’s right for you. There are many excellent resources available about the variety of methods:

If you are sexually active and are not ready to become a parent, it is important to use birth control to protect yourself from pregnancy. It is also important to reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), including HIV. Condoms are the only birth control that reduces your risk of both pregnancy and STDs, including HIV. Know your condom dos and don’ts.

Reproductive Coercion

Violence and reproductive health are strongly linked. Reproductive coercion is when a partner tries to get a woman pregnant against her will or control the outcome of a pregnancy through threats, intimidation or by tampering with contraceptive (birth control) methods. Reproductive coercion may lead to higher rates of unintended pregnancy. Talking about the health of your relationship with your health care provider can help. 

Preventing Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are described by women as unplanned. Preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy can significantly improve other social problems including poverty, child abuse and neglect, low birth weight, school failure and poor preparation for the workforce. We support the efforts of a network of community based organizations that work together to reduce teen pregnancy and promote adolescent sexual health through the Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP).