5 alternatives to birth control pills: Which is for you?

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IUD

It stands for intrauterine device (IUD), it contains only the hormone progestin, and it is inserted into your uterus by your ob-gyn. The hormones prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus on the cervix that blocks sperm or by stopping eggs from leaving your ovaries.  

 

Benefits:

+Protection from pregnancy 24/7 for 3 to 12 years

+You don’t have to remember to take it every day (like the pill)

+99% effectiveness

+Can be used as emergency contraception

+It has additional health benefits, such as treating acne and PMS, preventing certain cancers and health conditions, etc

 

Disadvantages:

- Somewhat expensive (up to $1300)

- Doesn’t protect against STDs

- Needs to be inserted into your vagina by a doctor

 

Patch

A patch releases hormones through your skin to the bloodstream for 7 days. You can use 1 patch for a week for 3 weeks, and then take a break for the next 7 days to have menstruation. You can wear the patch on your upper body (not breasts), lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper arm.

 

Benefits:

+No need for ingestion

+A steady stream of hormones into your blood

+No need to remember to use it each day

+Great for those who cannot swallow pills

 

Disadvantages:

-In some cases, it can fall off

-You may forget to change the patch

 

Vaginal ring

It is placed in the vagina for 3 weeks, but you should remove it on the first day of the fourth week.

The ring gives you continuous birth control for the month

It has additional health benefits, such as treating acne, preventing certain cancers, anemia, etc.

 

Benefits:

+It improves your period by reducing PMS

+No need to see a doctor for insertion, but you’ll need a prescription

+Fewer hormonal fluctuations in your body

 

Disadvantages:

-You need to remove and insert it yourself

- You have to remove it on certain days

- It may cause side effects: intermenstrual bleeding, etc.

- Is not recommended for people with a history of depression

- You can’t use a cervical cap, diaphragm, or sponge for backup contraception.

 

Injection

The birth control shot is also known as Depo-Provera (the brand name). It doesn’t use estrogen, but a form of the man-made version of progestin called depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) that blocks ovulation. You have to get another shot every 13 weeks.  

 

Benefits:

+Highly effective: 99%

+Immediate protection

+You don’t have to remember to take it every day - only once every 3 months

+Little chance of missing a dose

+Good for women who can’t take estrogen

+Great for short-term protection

 

Disadvantages:

-You should remember to take your shot on time

-It’s actually an injection, not for those who are afraid of shots

-It may cause side effects: nausea, headaches, bellyache

-Not recommended for long-term use.

 

Implant

An implant is a small matchbox-sized stick with the hormone progestin surgically placed under your skin on the arm. It prevents pregnancy by blocking ovulation and thickening cervical mucus.

 

Benefits:

+ You don’t need to do anything for up to 4 years

+ One of the highest levels of effectiveness of all contraceptives

+ Don’t worry about contraceptives for three years

+ Good for women who cannot take estrogen

 

Disadvantages:

-No protection against STDs

-Requires a short surgery and minor healing afterward to place and remove it

-May cause side effects: depression, hair loss, or irregular menstrual periods

-If you’re not careful, you can get an infection in the area where it was implanted

-Is not OK for women with specific diseases and conditions

-Can’t be used by women who use certain meds

 

Sources:

How the NuvaRing Works, verywellhealth.com

Hormonal methods of birth control, myhealth.alberta.ca

Depo-Provera, healthline.com

IUD, plannedparenthood.org

Depo-Provera, healthline.com

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