PrEP Is for Women, Too

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Medically reviewed by Jeffrey Kwong, DNP, MPH, AGPCNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

What is PrEP?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, and it’s a medication that can protect you from HIV.

How well does PrEP work?

PrEP can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by nearly 99%, and from sharing injection drug equipment by more than 70%.

Can women take PrEP? 

Is PrEP only for men? Nope! Two PrEP medications are approved for use by women, people assigned female at birth and anyone who may have receptive vaginal sex (such as some transgender men or nonbinary people). Only people who know they are HIV-negative can safely use PrEP.

PrEP options for women and people who have receptive vaginal sex 

Truvada (or a generic equivalent), a pill that’s taken by mouth every day

Apretude, a shot that’s taken every 2 months

How do I use PrEP?

Talk to your healthcare provider (HCP), who can prescribe PrEP after giving you a test to make sure you don’t have HIV.

Together, you and your HCP can decide which form of PrEP is right for you, based on your lifestyle and health needs.

Oral PrEP

Take a pill every day as directed and visit your HCP every few months for follow-up care, refills and tests.

Injectable PrEP shots

See your HCP every two months for your shot, as well as follow-up care and tests.

What are the side effects of PrEP?

Side effects of oral PrEP may include upset stomach, diarrhea, headaches and tiredness. For injectable PrEP, pain at the injection site is also common. These side effects usually go away over time.

Can I use PrEP while pregnant?

Oral PrEP is safe for women to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. The safety of injectable PrEP in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding has not been studied yet.

Why should women consider PrEP?

PrEP is a safe and effective prevention tool for people who are at high risk for HIV.

PrEP can be used with hormonal birth control or hormone therapy (including both feminizing and masculinizing therapies), since there are no known interactions between these medications. This means that you can continue safely taking hormones while taking PrEP.

This educational resource was created with support from Gilead.