When it comes to choosing your birth control, the hardest part may be keeping up with all of the options available to you.

One of the newest methods of preventing unwanted pregnancy is the birth control patch, a hormonal device that’s both easy to use and budget-friendly. There are currently two brands making the birth control patch: Xulane and Twirla.

Xulane is a registered trademark of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Agile Therapeutics, Inc. makes the birth control patch Twirla, which contains a slightly lower dose of hormones. Agile Therapeutics, Inc. recently formed an alliance with Afaxys Pharma, LLC in an effort to expand women’s options.

Since more than 31 million people visit community and public health clinics across the country, this partnership means Twirla will be helping provide millions of people with access to an additional option when it comes to taking control of their reproductive health.

A 2017 study that combined the results of studies from four scientific databases found that increased fertility awareness is desperately needed, especially among men and people with lower education levels. Making different methods of birth control easily available in public clinics is an easy way to reach these groups and others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 60.7 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 49 had an “ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services.” The CDC also estimates that 6.2 million women who needed access to birth control don’t have insurance and would require publicly funded care.

Currently, publicly funded clinics, as well as Planned Parenthood clinics, provide access to hormonal and nonhormonal forms of birth control. In addition to the patch, these options typically include access to pills, IUDs, implants, injections, and condoms.

While this may vary based on where you live, many of these options are widely available and covered by insurance or free under the Affordable Care Act.

Hormonal forms of birth control do require a prescription. You’ll need to see a doctor, either virtually or in person, so that you can provide a brief overview of your medical history.

Planned Parenthood notes that in some states, you can get a prescription online. Some clinics will be able to give you birth control during your visit, and some will require you to go pick up your prescription at your pharmacy.

While your doctor or healthcare professional at a local clinic will take your other medications and medical history into account, here are some factors to consider when choosing a method of birth control:

  • Frequency. Determine whether you’re OK with a birth control method that requires daily upkeep or if you’re looking for more of a get-it-and-forget-it method.
  • STIs. Do you want your birth control to reduce your risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well?
  • Insurance. One of the best aspects of this partnership between Agile Therapeutics and Afaxys is that it will make the patch affordable. A doctor, nurse, or staff member at your local clinic should be able to tell you what forms of birth control are covered by your insurance.
  • Hormones. If you’re thinking about the patch, pill, IUD (with the exception of the ParaGard), injection, or arm implant, you’re considering a hormonal form of birth control. Hormonal birth control methods may reduce PMS symptoms, regulate your period, and improve acne.
  • Fertility timeline. If family planning is on the horizon, you’ll want to discuss your timeline with your doctor, who can help you decide which type of birth control is right for your lifestyle.

Hormonal forms of birth control like the patch contain either estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of the two. They work by preventing the ovary from releasing an egg each month and by thickening the cervical mucus so that the sperm can’t reach the egg.

If you opt for the pill, you’re ingesting the hormones. IUDs, rings, and arm implants slowly release the hormones over time, which is why they don’t require daily upkeep. In the case of the patch, the hormones are delivered through your skin, and you replace it weekly.

Hormonal birth control may provide non-contraceptive benefits, such as:

  • managing menstruation
  • reducing acne
  • reducing mood shifts

Hormonal forms of birth control are effective after 5 to 7 days of use. If the patch is applied more than 5 days after menstruation has started, a backup method of birth control is recommended. The CDC offers specific guidance on when to start using specific contraceptive methods as well as noting when additional contraception is needed.

While birth control patches work best for women who have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 30, most hormonal forms of birth control aren’t recommended if you smoke and are over the age of 35.

Twirla works best for women who have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 30. You shouldn’t use Twirla if you smoke cigarettes and are over the age of 35.

This partnership will likely make it easier for people across the country to have access to the birth control patch. It’s an easy-to-use, accessible option that’s suitable for a lot of young people’s active lifestyles.