Last week, I wrote about the importance of birth control, and how women should stop being shamed for owning their reproductive health. This week I want to get into the meat of the gist by sharing birth control options to consider, along with their usage and side effects.
Let’s begin with condoms. Condoms offer protection from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Specifically, I mean the male condom. There is the female version which is not as popular and easy to use as the male condom. However, like I mentioned last week, the problem with the condom is that it can easily be ignored in the heat of the moment. And this could be quite a risk if you are not in a committed monogamous relationship.
It’s important to mention that most of these birth control options are hormone sensitive, particularly because the menstrual period is hormone regulated. What matters is to equip yourself with the right information and make a choice that works best for you. Below are the options available to consider.
This is the common birth control tablet, usually taken daily for contraceptive purposes as well as hormone regulation purposes. Not many people know this, but there are actually two different types of contraceptive pills. There’s a combined pill which contains both oestrogen and progestogen. And there’s the mini pill containing only progestogen. The combined pill is taken everyday for 3 weeks with one week break while the mini pill is taken everyday for a month with no breaks.
This is an injection which can be taken once every three months.
This is inserted into the vagina where it continuously releases hormones that interrupt the fertility process. Usually the ring stays in for three weeks and is then taken out for a week.
This is changed every week for three weeks in a month with a patch free week.
This is a small plastic rod (kind of looks like a matchstick) that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases a hormone that interrupts the ovulation cycle and can stay in for up to 3 years.
Intra-Uterine Device/Intra-Uterine system
They are both inserted into the uterus and can stay in for up to 10 years. While the IUS has a hormone that also be used to treat heavy periods, the IUD is commonly known as the coil and has no hormones.
This is also known as tubal ligation. It is a surgical procedure where the fallopian tubes are cut and tied. This is a permanent method offered to women who have completed childbearing.
Factors Of Birth Control To Consider
Contraception is not one size fits all. It is important to remember this. Different factors can affect the type of contraception best suited for each woman. These factors may be related to the woman’s lifestyle or past medical history. It could also just be the woman’s personal preference.
Some women may not remember to take a pill every day. In that case, they may prefer a form of contraception that doesn’t require as much attention, like the Intra-Uterine device or an implant. Also, women who are heavy smokers are not advised to use the combined pill.
Frequency of sexual intercourse may also be a factor. A woman who isn’t having regular sex may choose to stick with condoms as opposed to getting a coil. Another factor is time. Usually this is determined by how long the woman wants to hold off pregnancy. Methods like the pill and patch are more short term, while implants and intrauterine devices are more long term.
There’s no denying the fact that some of these methods have side effects. Some women will experience these side effects in varying degrees while some will experience no side effects at all.
In my own experience, I had an Intra-Uterine copper coil inserted for contraceptive purposes, but it resulted in more painful periods. However, I have had patients who have had theirs for almost 10 years with no issues.
A friend of mine has the contraceptive implant and always gloats about how happy she is that she doesn’t experience periods anymore. She’s also never experienced weight gain or acne which are some known side effects of the implant.
It’s really all case by case and it is important to carefully weigh the risks and side effects against the benefits.
In the end, not all women will go for birth control and that is okay. The important thing is to be aware and have enough information to make an informed decision. It is best to see a gynecologist to discuss all your concerns and have them addressed.
Lastly, bear in mind that the only way to prevent a sexually transmitted disease is by using a condom every time you have sex. Every time!