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Jan 16

Birth Control Options

Happy Monday, and welcome to Medical Mondays! This week’s topic is on birth control options!

In light of the recent political climate and my complete lack of faith in the continuation of women’s reproductive health rights, I figured I’d discuss the different options available right now.

Birth Control Options

There are a ton of options out there–some protect against pregnancy as well as STIs while others only protect against pregnancy. There are short-term options, long-term options, and all sorts of different methods of application/use, so I figured I’d share a handy little table here!

Image from bedsider.org.

Image from bedsider.org.

I haven’t gone to a doctor’s appointment for myself since the disaster that was my broken hand last year where my insurance was completely useless and offered to pay $16 out of the >$2000 they charged me. (Curbside consults ftw?) …But I’m now on the other end and can actually prescribe/place these! :O

(For the record, the only surefire way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence, but many of the options listed below are extremely effective, especially when used correctly.)

Birth Control Options

 

Method

Effectiveness

How To Use

Pros

Cons

The Ring

92-99%

Insert a small ring into the vagina

Change ring each month

Doesn’t require a “fitting” by a health care provider

Private

Doesn’t require spermicide

Can make periods more regular + less painful

No pill to take daily

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly after stopping the ring

Can increase vaginal discharge

May cause spotting the first 1-2 months

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Male Condom

85-98%

Use a new condom each time you have sex

Use a polyurethane condom if allergic to latex

Can buy at many stores

Can put on as part of sex play/foreplay

Can help prevent early ejaculation

Protects against HIV + many other STIs

Can be used while breastfeeding

Can decrease sensation

Can cause loss of erection

Can break or slip off

Female Condom

79-95%

Use a new condom each time you have sex

Use extra lubrication as needed

Can buy at many stores

Can put on as part of sex play/foreplay

Can help prevent early ejaculation

Protects against HIV + many other STIs

Can be used while breastfeeding

May be noisy

May be hard to insert

May slip out of place during sex

Spermicide

71-85%

Insert more spermicide each time you have sex

Can buy at many stores

Can put on as part of sex play/foreplay

Can help prevent early ejaculation

Protects against HIV + many other STIs

Can be used while breastfeeding

May raise the risk of getting HIV

May irritate vagina, penis

Cream, gel, and foam can be messy

Diaphragm

84-94%

Must be used each time you have sex

Must be used with spermicide

A health care provider will fit you + show you how to use it

Can last several years

Costs very little to use

May protect against some infections (NOT HIV)

Can be used while breastfeeding

Using spermicide nonoxylnol-9 may raise the risk of getting HIV

Shouldn’t be used with vaginal bleeding or infection

Raises risk of bladder infection

Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception

58-94%

Works best the sooner you take it after unprotected sex

Take pill(s) as soon as you can after unprotected sex

Can take EC up to 5 days after unprotected sex

If pack contains 2 pills, take both together

Can be used while breastfeeding

Available at pharmacies, health centers or health care providers (call ahead to see if they have it)

Women + men of any age can get some brands w/o a prescription

May cause stomach upset or nausea

Next period may come early or late

May cause spotting

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STDs

Ella is only available w/ a prescription

May cost a lot

Copper IUD

99%

Must be placed in uterus by health care provider

Must be removed by health care provider

May be left in place for up to 12 years

Can be used while breastfeeding

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly when IUD removed

May cause more cramps + heavy periods

IUDs can cause spotting between periods

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Progestin IUD

99%

Must be placed in uterus by health care provider

Must be removed by health care provider

Mirena may be left in place up to 7 years

Skyla may be left in place up to 3 years

May improve period cramps + bleeding

Can be used while breastfeeding

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly when IUD removed

May cause lighter periods, spotting, or no period at all

Rarely, uterus is injured during placement

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Implant

>99%

Health care provider places it under the skin of the upper arm

Must be removed by health care provider

Long lasting (up to 3 years)

No medicine to take daily

Can be used while breastfeeding

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly after it’s removed

May cause irregular bleeding (spotting, no periods or heavy periods)

After 1 year, many women have no period at all

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Shot

97-99%

Get shot every 3 months

Each shot works for 12 weeks

Private

Helps prevent cancer of the lining of the uterus (womb)

No pill to take daily

Can be used while breastfeeding

May cause spotting, no period, weight gain, depression, hair or skin changes, change in sex drive

May cause delay in getting pregnant after you stop the shots

Side effects may last up to 6 months after you stop the shots

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Pill

92-99%

Must take the pill daily

Can make periods more regular + less painful

Can improve PMS symptoms

Can improve acne

Lowers risk of ovarian cancer

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly after stopping the pills

May cause nausea, weight gain, headaches, changes in sex drive–can be relieved by changing to a new brand

May cuase spotting the 1st 1-2 months

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Progestin-only Pills

92-99%

Must take pill at the same time every day

Can be used while breastfeeding

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly after stopping the pills

Often cause spotting, which may last for many months

May cause depression, hair or skin changes, change in sex drive

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

Patch

92-99%

Apply a new patch 1x/week for 3 weeks

No patch in week 4

Can make periods more regular + less painful

No pill to take daily

Ability to become pregnant returns quickly after stopping the patch

Can irritate skin under the patch

May cause spotting the 1st 1-2 months

Doesn’t protect against HIV or other STIs

P.S. I snagged this from the Reproductive Health Access Project! You can get a wealth of other resources from their site!


I came up with this design ages ago for our class t-shirt contest! :]
Disclaimer: The statements made on this blog should not be taken as medical advice to treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please contact your own physician or health care provider before starting a health or fitness/wellness program. (See full disclaimer here.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/birth-control-options/

16 comments

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  1. Coco

    Great overview. My daughter is suffering from co-pay shock on her BCPs but she needs them for other issues. ~sigh~

    1. Farrah

      I really, really hope that these medications remain affordable! OCPs are used/are useful for so many other conditions than birth control!

  2. Kimberly G

    This is a great post and VERY timely!

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! I’d been sitting on this post for a bit and figured now would be a good time to post it!

  3. Runaway Bridal Planner

    Great info, I wish more girls would take the time to get educated on the different things available to them!
    Runaway Bridal Planner recently posted…Day in the life, Selfies, Getting Out of My Comfort Zone and some OMG’sMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! I think a lot of it is also that they don’t know where to look or aren’t comfortable with asking their health care providers. :[ (I also think sex education needs a massive overhaul in this country, but that’s a soapbox for another day…)

  4. Laura

    WOW! this is actually one of the most thorough bits of info on birth control I have ever seen!

    I had no idea Spermicide could actually increase risk of HIV. I feel like that’s a serious gap in my knowledge…

    I recently switched to lo-esterin birth control… I don’t love it but the tri-cyclin-lo (sorry about the spelling!) led to my first ever migrane so my doc pulled me off of it and dropped the dosage. It’s a great pill but I DON’T get my period… it’s leading to a lot of expenses on negative pregnancy tests (i’m a worrier)

    I’m worried about women south of the border and your contraceptive rights… at least we know they’ll never get rid of male condoms (because you gotta protect those errant willy’s.. sigh)

    Great post Farrah
    Laura recently posted…Keeping a Happiness JournalMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks! I figured if I was going to talk about it, I should probably be thorough (but hopefully simplified enough that it doesn’t get overwhelming?)! :]!

      That was a surprise to me when I was learning about em’ too! Spermicides are safe to use as long as they’re used as directed–I believe the research behind it increasing the risk of HIV was mainly because although it’s actually really effective in killing those microorganisms, it can also potentially irritate the cells lining the vagina + the rectum, which can make it more vulnerable to attack (especially when used frequently)!

      I feel ya! Much as I hate getting my period, its existence is still a nice sort of reminder, hahaha.

      I’m really really worried about that as well. :[ I have a preceptor at my program who flies down for a couple days a month to work at a women’s health clinic–depending on what happens over the next couple years, I may follow suit!

  5. Jen @ SprinklesHikes

    What a great and informative post. In my college days this post would have been so handy – back then it took lots of research on the internet to decide what method was best for me!

    1. Farrah

      Sometimes it’s really hard to find where to look! I definitely remember rooting around the internet for information with my roommate!

  6. Kristy from Southern In Law

    This is such a great overview – and so informative!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…DIY Alphabet Dating Book – A Cheap, Easy and Homemade Gift Idea!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks, Kristy! :] I was hoping to do a brief but informative summary of sorts!

  7. ShootingStarsMag

    Great post, thanks so much for breaking all of these down. I use the pill, but it’s to help with things OTHER than not getting pregnant. That’s one thing that I hate about the political climate. Yes, these things can be used for preventing pregnancy, but when it comes to something like the pill, it’s used for a lot of other things too and it shouldn’t be an ungodly cost.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Need a Little Research Help?My Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m definitely with you there! The pill is used off-label for so many other conditions–I’m really hoping that prices will remain affordable for everyone!

  8. Laura Dembowski

    This isn’t easy to talk about but it’s great info and from a reliable source.
    Laura Dembowski recently posted…Grape and Olive Oil Polenta CakeMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I feel like it’s a topic people don’t often talk about that there are often lots of questions/misconceptions to, so I’m hoping this will help point people in the right direction if they need it! :]
      Farrah recently posted…Camping at BLM Laguna MountainMy Profile

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