Afaxys Pharmaceuticals and Bayer HealthCare announced their new alliance yesterday (ABC alliance) to make popular birth control methods more accessible to women, specifically intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Dr. Cheryl Gibson, Afaxys chief medical officer, told Medical Daily this alliance has been two months in the making; the two companies will work with local family planners, such as Planned Parenthood, to make IUDs Mirena and Skyla accessible and affordable to women. The ABC alliance also aims to serve uninsured or underinsured women seeking birth control. It’s the first partnership of its kind.

Coordinating affordable birth control access hasn’t been easy. Some health care providers face financial challenges and can’t carry the more expensive methods of birth control. College health centers, for example, struggle to buy and provide women birth control at a reasonable price, Gibson said.

When the alliance goes into effect later this month, the cost of birth control and IUDs will vary both on health care providers and the particular method. If centers qualify for 340B drug pricing, they’ll be qualified to serve underserved populations and obtain birth control at discounted prices; if they don’t qualify, their birth control will be priced higher. These savings could be a difference of a few hundred dollars in some scenarios.

IUD use has grown significantly in recent years, and Gibson believes this is for two reasons:

“I think there have been some myths regarding medical literature, so both women and providers are now hearing a different story about IUDS,” she said. “And the professional organizations, like American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have put out statements saying IUDs are the best, most effective method.”

Women interested in getting an IUD should share their complete medical history with their doctor, so their doctor can determine if they are an appropriate candidate for this particular birth control method. Second, Gibson added, women should ask their doctors to share all the possible risks and benefits of a method, like an IUD.

The risks and benefits vary among the type of IUD use, but there’s low risk of menstrual problems, pregnancy, and pelvic infection. Less than one percent of users have gotten a serious pelvic infection; still, it’s helpful for women to be aware so they know when to contact their health care provider. Otherwise IUDs have been found to be safe and effective, protecting women from pregnancy up to five years after it’s been inserted into the uterus.

Once the ABC alliance is in effect, Gibson believes this will make a difference in women’s health care.

Correction: This article originally incorrectly stated the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology has issued statements regarding IUDs. The correct organization is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.