Does Health Insurance Cover Your Sexual Health?

Does Health Insurance Cover Your Sexual Health? text overlaying image fo a woman being offered different types of birth controlSexual health is very important. It can change other parts of health and is affected by other parts of health. This includes mental, emotional, and social health as well as physical health. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that sexual health is “fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples, and families.” Sexual health isn’t just about not getting sick or having children. The CDC says that it involves respect for both sexual relationships and sexuality, pleasure, and a safe sexual experience that is free of coercion, discrimination, or violence. According to WHO, the foundation of sexual health is:

 

  • Having accurate information about sex and sexuality
  • Understanding risks associated with unprotected sex
  • Access to proper healthcare

A health care provider can help with all of these things. They can help you figure out what’s going on with your mind and set up any treatments you might need to get better or stay healthy. Having good sexual health is important, but will your health insurance pay for the things you and your partners need to stay safe? Below we’ll look at what’s covered and why you need to keep yourself healthy in every aspect of your life. 

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Talking To Your Doctor

Your doctor can tell you how to keep your sexual relationships safe and talk to you about how your body image affects your sexuality. You might also learn how to avoid getting sick in the first place. Sexual health can be a scary subject to talk about. But it’s important to tell them the truth.

 

The things you say in the exam room are private, and your doctor is required by U.S. law to keep your personal information safe. If you are honest with your doctor, you can find out what conditions you may be at risk for and how to avoid them. You can also find out if you have any diagnoses related to your sexual health. Below we’ve highlighted sexual health issues your doctor can help you prevent or treat.

STIs

STIs, sexually transmitted infections, can be passed through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Most STIs don’t show any signs, especially in the beginning stages of infection. Without proper testing, you might never know if you or your partner have an STI. The most common STIs are:

 

  • HIV
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis A, B, and C

Most STIs can be treated or kept under control with antibiotics or other drugs, and some can even be cured. Still, many cases are thought to not have been found or treated. Some people can get very sick if they don’t get their STIs treated. This is one reason why it’s important to learn how to avoid getting them. 

Does Health Insurance Cover STI Testing?

For the most part, yes. STI testing is one of the preventative health benefits that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health plans to cover. Under the ACA, all insurance plans must cover HIV testing for people between 15-65, as well as for anyone else with an increased risk of HIV. Tests for things like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea may be covered as part of preventative care benefits. Which means even if you haven’t met your deductible the costs of the tests are covered. However, you still may have to pay a copay to see the doctor in the first place. 

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Birth Control

Knowing how to have sex in a safer way can help stop not only the spread of STIs, but also unwanted pregnancies. You can talk to your doctor about different kinds of birth control and condoms as ways to stay safe. 

Does Health Insurance Cover Birth Control?

Yes, most health insurance plans must cover all prescription birth control methods for free, even if you haven’t met your deductible. This means that you don’t have to pay a copay, coinsurance, or any other out-of-pocket costs. Including:

 

  • Pills
  • Implants
  • IUDs
  • Vaginal ring
  • Patches
  • Shot
  • Internal condoms
  • Diaphragms
  • Cervical caps
  • Tubal ligation (female sterilization) 

Some health insurance plans may require cost-sharing for certain brands of birth control. So, it’s important to check with your health insurance company to see if the birth control you want is covered. If it isn’t they can tell you how much it costs. The nurse or doctor who gives you your birth control can also help you find a brand that will cover your chosen method. It’s also important to note that health insurance isn’t required to cover birth control methods for men like vasectomies, but some may. Some religious organizations can choose not to cover birth control for their employees in their group health insurance plans. 

Does Health Insurance Cover Emergency Contraception?

Yes, but depending on the type you need, it can get a little tricky. Under the ACA, most health insurance plans have to cover all methods of birth control that you can get with a prescription, including emergency contraception. There are three types of emergency birth control: the Ella morning-after pill, the Plan B morning-after pill, and other generic versions. The best kind of morning-after pill is called Ella. Since you need a prescription to get Ella, most health insurance plans will pay for it for free. Plan B and other brands of levonorgestrel morning-after pills can be bought without a prescription. If you buy these kinds of morning-after pills without a prescription, your health insurance won’t pay for them.

 

Your nurse or doctor can write you a prescription for morning-after pills, like those at your local Planned Parenthood health center. Since Ella is the most effective type of morning-after pill, it’s a good idea to ask for it in particular. If you want levonorgestrel (also known as “Plan B”) morning-after pills, you may have to explain to your doctor why you want a prescription, since you don’t need one to buy it. Tell them that your health insurance will only cover the cost if you have a prescription. It’s a good idea to buy morning-after pills ahead of time and keep them in your medicine cabinet, just in case. That way, if you need it, you can get it right away.

Does Health Insurance Cover Abortions?

The ACA does not require health insurance plans to cover abortion services like in-clinic abortions and the abortion pill. Some plans, however, do cover it. Coverage for abortions depends on many things: like where you live, what kind of insurance you have, and why you need an abortion. Many private health insurance plans cover abortion, but some don’t or aren’t allowed to in certain states. Some states don’t let any health insurance cover abortions at all, while other states require all plans to cover abortions or don’t limit abortion coverage at all. Other states don’t let ACA marketplace plans, Medicaid, and other types of insurance cover abortions. Some plans will only pay for an abortion in certain situations, like if the pregnancy was caused by rape,incest or if it puts your life in danger.

General Wellness Exams

As we said before, most health plans have to cover preventative care for free, even before you meet your deductible. This includes wellness exams for people under 65. Such as gynecological exams, annual exams, or “well woman” exams. Wellness exams will include things like pelvic exams, pap smears, breast exams, STI testing, and birth control counseling. All of these are covered by health insurance. 

 

Most health insurance plans also cover other kinds of preventive care, like vaccines, cholesterol tests, blood pressure tests, and some mental health screenings. Most plans pay for at least one annual wellness visit. Depending on the current medical guidelines and your own health history, they may cover other preventive services, tests, and screenings more or less often. 

Drug And Alcohol Treatment

What does drinking or drug use have to do with sexual health? In general, these substances can affect mental, physical and sexual health. When people use alcohol or drugs, they’re at a higher risk for unprotected sex or unwanted sex which can lead to STIs and pregnancies. If you have HIV, drug and alcohol abuse can actually worsen the disease. Drug and alcohol treatment along with other behavioral health services is another benefit that is covered under the ACA. It is important for you to understand what your specific plan will and won’t cover as these services are covered differently by each plan. 

Need Help?

It’s important to have a good health insurance plan so that you can get regular checks on your sexual health. When you are looking for the best health insurance plan for you and your family, you will have a lot of options. The best one for you will depend on how you live, which doctors you want to see, and whether you need medical equipment or take regular medications.

 

The best way to find a cheap plan with the right level of coverage for you is to compare plans. Come to EZ first before you start comparing things on your own. We’ll make the process faster and easier by letting you compare plans in your area in just a few minutes. All of the best insurance companies in the country work with our licensed agents. They can talk with you about your needs and budget and help you find the best plan for you and your family. We compare plans and give you advice for free. Enter your zip code in the box below to get free quotes. You can also call 877-670-3557 to talk to a live agent.

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All About Condoms! Everything You Need to Know (and Some Things You Don’t)

How many condoms do you think are used on Valentine’s Day alone each year? More than 7.5 million! That’s a lot of lovers getting down to it – safely, which we wholeheartedly encourage. 

Condoms might not be everyone’s favorite thing, but they are still the best option for staying safe, especially with a new partner. What other super convenient option is there for both preventing pregnancy and reducing the risk of disease? You can head to the store, pick them up and you know you’re ready to stay safe AND enjoy yourself! If condoms are taking away from your enjoyment, it might be that you’re not choosing the right ones. We’ve got the lowdown on how to choose the best condoms for you and your partner, as well as a look at their origins (just for fun). As you walk through the store to buy condoms, remember: at least yours aren’t made out of fish guts!

The History of the Condom

a row of packaged red condoms in a clear package
Condoms date back to the Ancient Egyptians!

Today, there’s a whole aisle stocked with safe, effective condoms to choose from (which can be challenging in its own way). But did our ancestors have a way to protect themselves when they went gallivanting? We think of ourselves as living in the first enlightened and sexually active century, but that is far from true. People have been trying to prevent pregnancy and protect themselves from disease for the entirety of recorded history. 

While it’s not really known where the name “condom” comes from, folklore has it that a Dr. Condom worked in the court of King Charles II in the 1600s…but it’s more likely (if slightly more boring) that it probably comes from the Latin “condus,” meaning receptacle. There also isn’t any known visual evidence of condoms from thousands of years ago (as in, there are no hieroglyphics wearing prophylactics!), but it is believed that ancient Egyptians were using them back in the days of the pyramids. What does exist, though, are cave paintings from around 100 A.D., which is our earliest evidence of condom use – and maybe the first known example of dirty pictures??

Fast forward to the 16th century, and our first known published description – and even scientific trials – of condoms. The Italian Gabrielle Fallopius claimed to have invented a sheath made of linen, and he conducted trials among 1,100 men using the condom – none of whom became infected with syphilis. Score!

a gray medium sized fish laying on a table

Wait, let’s back up…linen? And that’s not the only, um, interesting material that condoms have been made from throughout the centuries. In the 18th century, condoms, which were becoming much more widely known, used, and even advertised were often made of animal gut. In fact, the oldest condom ever found has been dated to the 1640s, and it was made of animal and fish intestines. In Japan, they were often made of leather, tortoiseshell, or horn. By the mid-19th century, condoms were made of rubber (hence that old term “rubbers”), until…the 1930s and the advent of our modern-day latex condoms! Now, not only you can buy condoms in other materials like polypropylene, but there are also glow in the dark condoms, flavored condoms, ribbed condoms, shaped condoms…so where do you even start when you head to that aisle?

Get Over It and Take Your Time Choosing!

Whether you’re a man buying them for yourself or your partner, or a woman looking to be proactive about safety with her partners there should be absolutely nothing embarrassing about buying condoms. But hey, we understand if you get flustered in that aisle. Not to worry, we’re going to break down what you should be looking for when picking condoms, because the last thing you want is to come home with the wrong ones for you and your partner. And if you hate the idea of browsing the condom aisle, remember that the best invention since, well, the latex condom, is the internet! You can shop a wide selection from the comfort of your own home.

a colorfully wrapped condom wrapper with a little silver pouch next to it
When choosing condoms, you have to consider the size and material that you are not allergic to.

The first thing to think about is what you need in your condom. Consider:

  • Size – When it comes to condoms, size actually does matter. Condoms come in smaller and larger sizes, so make sure you’re getting the right one for you or your partner. This will ensure that they fit properly and have the right amount of protection (and seriously, nobody’s keeping score!)
  • Material- Many condoms are made of latex, which is actually a fairly common allergen. If you or your partner are allergic to latex (or if you’re not sure), get a non-latex condom made of a material like polypropylene or polyisoprene. 

Once those two important considerations are out of the way, you can look at all the other options. Here are more things to think about when trying to find your new favorite condom:

  • Brand- Want your head to spin? Check out all the brands of condom on the market. But unless there’s a specific brand you know you want, you don’t need to worry too much about choosing incorrectly. While you might feel safest with a trusted brand (and that’s totally understandable!), know that all condoms sold in the U.S. are FDA-approved and must meet strict federal standards. The only thing to be wary of when buying a brand you don’t recognize is expiration date (ALWAYS check that!) and the label “NOVELTY USE ONLY,” as these are not made for protection.
  • Style- Ok, want your head to REALLY spin? Now check out all of the styles of condom available. Let’s break down what you might want in your condom:a plethora of different styled condoms
    • Thin or sensitive – Condoms that feel like they’re not even there. While you might worry that these are more likely to break, that isn’t true, so there’s no increased risk. These condoms just tend to be more expensive!
    • Textured – These are those good ol’ ribbed (or dotted or studded) for her pleasure – or his, if they’re textured on the inside. These can enhance pleasure, but remember to check to see if your partner likes the feeling of these, and avoid them if either partner has any skin tears or sensitivities.
    • Flavored – You can spice up oral sex with mint, vanilla, chocolate, etc flavored condoms. While these are great for encouraging safe oral sex, you might want to skip them for vaginal sex: some contain sugar, which can cause yeast infections.
    • Non-lubricated – If you prefer a more natural feel, or want to choose your own lubricant (like a flavored one that DOESN’T contain sugar), there are condoms on the market that don’t come pre-lubricated.
    • Desensitizing – If you want to go all night, you do have the option to choose a condom with a desensitizing agent on it. Just be aware that they sometimes cause numbness, which might not be the exact feeling you’re going for.
    • Shaped – Nowadays, condoms don’t just come in all sizes – they come in all shapes, as well! Spiral, dolphin, spring action…the list goes on. If you and your partner are into experimenting, you can check these out at specialty shops or online.

Wait, Safety First!

Hopefully you’ve chosen the perfect condom for you and your partner. But before you get out there, do a safety check! Remember:a silver packaged condom in a black wallet

  • Condoms hate heat! – Never store your condoms in your glove box or wallet. Sorry, you’re just going to have to remember to carry a fresh one around if you’re looking to get lucky.
  • Some materials don’t mix – Don’t use oil-based lubricants, moisturizers or baby oil with latex condoms, as it can weaken the latex. Always use a water-based or other latex-compatible lubricant, or switch to a polypropylene condom.
  • Always check the expiration date
  • Never open a condom packet with your teeth (even if you think it makes you look sexy)
  • When to stop – If your condom breaks or comes off during sex, stop! Pull out, wash off, and get a fresh condom. Always remember to locate the condom (or any pieces of it) so you know it’s not still hanging out inside your partner (or you). 
  • Always be at attention – Put the condom on and take it off when fully erect.
  • Don’t flush ‘em! – Condoms and toilets don’t mix; always put used condoms in the trash.

So there you go! Your guide to all things safe sex. You are now armed with all the knowledge you need to confidently stroll down that condom aisle, pick exactly what you need, look the store clerk in the eye, and purchase your prophylactics so you can get down to the real business at hand. Have fun (and be safe)!

Most Common Signs Of An STI

After having sex with someone new, whether you use protection or not, sometimes your mind will begin to think and fear the possibility of an STI. STIs such as chlamydia, HPV, herpes, and gonorrhea are on the rise now more now than ever. The worst kind of STI’s are the ones that show no symptoms. And unfortunately, most of them do not produce symptoms, and when they do, they are very indistinct. The best option is to go get tested, but if you are wondering what the symptoms are, there are some common ones to look out for. 

How STIs Are Passed

An asian couple under white covers looking at each other.

STIs are usually passed by intercourse, but there are other instances.

  • Vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Oro-anal sex- When one partner’s mouth or tongue is on the other partner’s anus.
  • Mother to child during pregnancy or birth
  • Contaminated needles.

Most Common STI Symptoms 

Some STIs will show generic flu-like symptoms, and women are more likely to suffer from STI symptoms than men. If an STI goes unnoticed and untreated, it can cause long-lasting and irreversible problems. For example, chlamydia can spread beyond the cervix, to the fallopian tubes, and turn into pelvic inflammatory disease. This kind of disease can cause infertility. 

 

As stated, unfortunately, the most common symptom of a sexually transmitted infection is no symptoms at all. This is how STIs are passed on to sexual partners, creating an epidemic. Here are some things to recognize:

  • Leaking unusual discharge that is thick or thin milky white, yellow or green
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Vaginal itching
  • Pain during sex
  • Bumps, spots, lesions on or around your vagina/penis
  • Flu-like symptoms, this is especially common with HIV

Less Common Symptoms

person's hand holding their lower back
Lower back pain is one of the less common STI symptoms.
  • Bleeding or spotting in between cycles
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sore throat after oral sex
  • Nausea
  • Lower back pain
  • Painless ulcers in your genitals
  • Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge after anal sex
  • Joint pain/swelling

Getting Tested

The only way to find out if you have an STI is to get tested. You can go to Planned Parenthood to get tested, or your physician. A simple urine test can be detected on the same day and treated during your visit. Other results, such as from a blood test can take up to a week to test.

lab tech with tubes of blood
Getting tested is your best option to find out if you have an STI.

You should get tested:

  • After any sexual contact with a new or casual partner
  • After sex if you suspect your partner is sleeping with other people
  • After sexual contact in countries where HIV and other STIs are common
  • If your partner tells you they contracted an STI or diagnosed with one
  • After any nonconsensual sexual contact

What If I Have An STI?

If you are diagnosed with an STI, there are medications you will be given to clear it up. Most STIs will be cleared up, except for permanent ones such as HIV. Treatment of HIV will reduce the virus from spreading, increasing life expectancy. It is important to contact and sexual partners you had in the last 3-6 months, so they can get tested and treatment if necessary.

In order to reduce your risk of STIs, always use protection such as condoms. Make sure the condom is free of holes and breakage, and is not expired. It is better to be safe than sorry!

New Sexually Transmitted Disease “MG” Discovered

Experts are warning that a new sexually transmitted disease, mycoplasma genitalium, MG, can become the next superbug because it can sometimes be symptomless. Most of the time this disease is mistaken for chlamydia or gonorrhea, which is why it is often mistreated. This disease, like all STD’s, is spread through unprotected sex. For better sexual health, it is important to learn about this STD, and understand how to prevent contraction. 

The bacterium MG, was first discovered in 1981 according the the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). The Association found that if it goes untreated for too long, it can develop a resistance to antibiotics. A consultant in sexual health and HIV, and the clinical lead at the Liverpool Center for Sexual Health, Dr. Mark Lawton told CNN “We are already seeing resistance to Mycoplasma genitalium because we are using antibiotics that treat chlamydia very well but don’t treat mycoplasma very well.”

Safe sex can rprevent STD's.
Practicing safe sex will prevent getting the superbug, MG, and other STD’s.

Symptoms

One to two percent of the population carry MG, between women and men. For men, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the urethra, PID. This will lead to pain while urinating, and/or watery discharge from the penis. For women, the bacteria causes inflammation in the cervix. This can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, pain during sex and the pelvic area, and bleeding after sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, and the BASHH, if it is left untreated then up to 3,000 women a year who get pelvic inflammatory disease caused by MG, will have a higher risk of infertility.

Treatment

BASHH spokesperson Paddy Horner said: “MG is treated with antibiotics, but as until recently there has been no commercially available test, it has often been misdiagnosed as chlamydia and treated as such.

“This is not curing the infection and is causing antimicrobial resistance in MG patients. If practices do not change and the tests are not used, MG has the potential to become a superbug within a decade, resistant to standard antibiotics.”

Testing and treating M. genitalium is still going to take some time to get it down packed. Europe is using multiple tests that are not FDA approved, so they can not be used in the U.S. Because the bacteria’s symptoms closely relates to those of chlamydia, people get treated for chlamydia. However, these antibiotics do not work well against M. genitalium, and can actually promote resistance against antibiotics. There still needs to be more research done to provide a simple and inexpensive test in the U.S. But there are hopes research will find some soon. In the meantime, it is always important to have safe and protected sex in order to reduce your chances of any diseases.