During my clinical rotation at a women’s center, I am encountering females who aren’t fully aware of all their options when it comes to birth control. More often than not, they can only name 2 methods of contraception (BC pills and male condoms). Below are a quick run down of your options to keep you baby free until you’re ready to become a mother. *Note: I’m only addressing HIGHLY effective methods and methods that won’t reduce spontaneity in the heat of the moment.*
- The Pill: Take a tiny pill containing a combination of estrogen and progestin at the same time each and every day. You will get your period during the 4th week of pills because they lack hormones. There are also pills that will allow you to only have 4 cycles a year (score!). If you have trouble remembering to take pills, you can either set an alarm as a reminder or chose a different method of BC.
- The BC patch, or Ortho Evra, is applied to the skin (such as hip or upper back area). The patch is changed on the same day every week.
- There is a vaginal ring that is inserted into the vagina and left in place for 3 weeks (21 days), then removed for a week so that you can have a period. Insert a new ring on the same day each month. Cue Nuva Ring commercial here.
- The Depo shot is injected intramuscularly by a healthcare provider and lasts for 3 months. The shot, as it’s commonly referred to as, has received a bad rep for causing weight gain, but please be advised that side effects varies from woman to woman. I was on Depo for a number of years and didn’t gain an ounce, while one of my nursing school buddies claim she gained 20 lbs from it. Medications affect everyone differently.
- IUDs (Intrauterine devices): Perhaps my new favorite method of BC. They have been proven to be as effective, if not more effective, than having your tubes tied. There are 2 kinds of IUDs. Mirena has the hormone, progestin, and is effective for up to 5 years. The other IUD is called Paragaurd and is hormone free, but has copper to kill sperm. Paragaurd can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. This is a great option for teenagers or mothers who aren’t sure if they want more children or their tubes tied. As the name implies, this device is inserted through your cervix into the uterus by a trained healthcare professional. This is the future of birth control.
- The Implanon is an implantable rod that is placed just beneath the skin of your arm and is effective for up to 3 years.
All of the aforementioned methods of contraception require a prescription, so an appointment with your healthcare provider is necessary. Also, please keep in mind that none of these methods will protect you from STDs, so please strap up with either a male or female condom. Contracting a disease is just as bad, if not worse, than getting pregnant.
Be safe, and remember to keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out.