This guide will take you through the different methods of birth control so that you can make an informed decision about which method(s) might work for your needs. The goal here is to give you information so that making a choice will feel less like rolling dice.
The most common form of birth control available is the pill, a type of hormonal contraception. When you take this form of birth control, your body releases synthetic versions of the female hormones estrogen and progestin. These hormones are natural to the body and are required for ovulation and menstruation. The pill works by preventing pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). If a woman is taking oral contraceptives, she must remember to begin taking them at least two weeks before her expected period so that enough time passes for a healthy egg to be released.
Condoms are easy to take with you wherever you go and can be a convenient form of contraception. When used correctly, male condoms are up to 98% effective and are a reliable way of protecting both partners from STIs and preventing pregnancy. However, condoms can tear or split when not used properly. If this happens, you may need the emergency contraceptive pill. In most scenarios, there are no medical side effects from using condoms (unless you have a latex or plastic allergy) and they’re easy to get gold off.
This one is a little different. It’s a hormonal patch that you stick to your skin and it releases a hormone into your body when you need it to. It’s also more convenient because you don’t have to remember to take pills all of the time, but it can also be dangerous if you forget to take them. The patch has been around for about 20 years now, but there are still lots of learning curves and myths about them around.
Copper IUDs (intrauterine devices) are small, T-shaped plastic devices inserted into the uterus. They come with a copper sleeve that prevents fertilisation and are up to 99% effective. They can remain in place for up to 10 years and do not need to be replaced every month. However, they do not protect against STIs or STDs and may make your period heavier and more painful. Having an IUD fitted can be uncomfortable, and some people even find it painful, but you can have a local anaesthetic to help.
Diaphragms are fairly easy to use and can be inserted up to six hours before sex. They may protect against STDs if used with spermicide. However, effectiveness can vary, depending on proper use and placement, and insertion can be tricky (the diaphragm has to completely cover the cervix).
The Depo-Provera shot is a type of injectable birth control that’s highly effective and long-lasting. The shot protects against pregnancy for up to 12 weeks, making it a good option if you don’t want to worry about birth control for 3 months. Unlike other forms of birth control, you don’t have to remember to take a pill or put in a ring every day. The hormone progestin in the shots prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation (when an egg is released from your ovaries, which happens before you get your period).
As long as you keep getting the shots on schedule, they offer constant protection against pregnancy. When you stop getting them, it takes about 10 months for progestin levels in your body to go back to normal. You may start ovulating again before then and can become pregnant if you have sex during this time.
As you can see, birth control is not one-size-fits-all. It’s a personal choice, so you should choose the option that fits your lifestyle and goals. By being aware of the pros and cons of each type, you will be able to make an informed decision to help protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy.
Speaking about birth control options with your doctor is important. Keep in mind that you’re always free to change methods if one doesn’t work for you. If you are experiencing severe side effects from your current birth control method, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor for advice or a prescription change as soon as possible!