Guide to birth control – A most important decision
As a woman, adopting a birth control method will be one of the most crucial decisions you make
for your body and reproductive health as an adult. It is important to be informed and know the
options available to you, and pick one that is best suited to your needs.
There are many factors to keep in mind. You have to consider the cost - is birth control covered
by your insurance? Do you plan to have children any time soon? Are you a good candidate for
hormonal birth control methods? A consultation with your gynecologist and healthcare provider
should help you select an appropriate method for you, but being informed before the
consultation will help you ask the right questions.
Here is a lowdown on some of the most commonly used forms of birth control-
Birth Control Pills -
The most common form of birth control, this is a pill meant to be taken daily (three weeks of
hormonal pills and one week of placebo pills a month). This method of birth control is easily
reversible, regulates your periods, and in some cases even treats acne. However, this is a
hormonal form of birth control which means that different people react to it differently. It might
not be the best birth control method for somebody with a history of depression. Side effects may
include weight gain, spotting between periods, nausea etc. Keep in mind that the effectiveness
depends on correct daily usage.
Depo Provera Shots -
This is a hormonal shot taken once every 3 months. It prevents ovulation and reduces the
frequency of your period, and is a great method for those who do not want to take a daily pill. It
is reversible and the benefits and side effects are similar to the birth control pill since they both
contain the hormone progestin. However, this form of taking the hormone has a lower possibility
of failure since it only requires follow ups once every 3 months.
IntraUterine Devices (IUDs) -
The IUD or the “Copper T” as it is sometimes known is a long-term method of birth control that
involves placing an implant in the uterus. It is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. There are
two types of IUDs- hormonal and non-hormonal. The hormonal type of IUD has small amounts
of progestin which is released in the body to prevent pregnancy. These are usually effective for
upto 6 years depending on the brand. The non-hormonal IUD lasts upto 12 years, it contains
copper which acts as a spermicide. The insertion is quick but can be painful, and it needs to be
done at your doctor’s office. The removal needs to be done at the doctor’s office too. Most
people report bleeding or spotting after insertion.
The best part about IUDs is that you can get them and then not worry about pregnancy for a
good few years, they’re as effective as sterilization but reversible, and are a great option for
people who cannot use hormonal birth control.
Birth Control Implant-
This is a small device implanted into your arm that released hormones into your bloodstream,
preventing pregnancy. It is effective for up to 4 years and is reversible. It reduces the menstrual
flow, sometimes eliminating the period entirely for the time that it is active. Getting an implant
can be expensive, so check if your insurance covers the cost.
The Nuvaring as it is usually called, needs to be changed once every month. It sits on your
cervix and releases hormones, and can be worn 3 weeks a month or worn constantly. It also
allows you the flexibility of deciding whether you want to have your period or skip it.
Birth Control Patch-
A hormonal patch is worn for 3 weeks in a month, replaced weekly. Like most hormonal birth
control methods, it contains progestin and estrogen which causes the cervical mucus to thicken,
and prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. This is a relatively cost-effective method but
requires some upkeep.
Barrier methods like condoms (male or female) have the added benefit of preventing STDs
while preventing pregnancy. They must be used every single time during sex. And unless you
are having sex with a trusted partner and have both been tested for STDs, you must use
condoms in combination with any other birth control method.