Birth control refers to methods or techniques used to prevent pregnancy. This allows women autonomy over their bodies and their lives. Several female contraception methods are available on the market, each with its array of benefits and potential disadvantages.
However, with time, science has striven to create safe, effective, and comfortable options for women to apply their right to choose. From IUDs to birth control pills, there exist a few modern techniques that have become practically risk-free and are readily available at your local clinic. Most female contraceptives work either hormonally or using barrier methods, which prevents the man’s sperm from accessing an egg. Modern birth control methods for women include:
- Birth Control Pills
- Female Condoms
- Emergency birth control pills
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The Benefits Of Each Option Explained
Before selecting a birth control option, it is essential to be cleared by a health professional specializing in female reproductive health. Your OB/GYN will make certain through a breast and a pelvic exam (which will involve a pap test) that you do not have a sexually transmitted disease or another harmful condition that may be worsened by the use of a female contraceptive. You will then need to choose from the options listed below.
1. Birth Control Pills
The pill is orally-consumed hormonal contraception. Birth control pills work by using estrogen and progestin hormones to prevent the body from completing a natural fertility cycle. They stop your body from ovulating and alter the structure and texture of cervical mucus to make sperm access to your eggs(s) practically impossible.
Strong points of birth control pills include:
- Ease of ingestion
- 99.9% efficiency
- Limited hormonal side-effects (particularly with the recent emergence of milder estrogen dosages)
- Discreet use
- Widespread access (most local clinics and pharmacies offer birth-control pills, which are accessible without a prescription)
- Low likelihood of an allergic reaction
- May manage period pain
- May manage period irregularity
Birth control pills can also help women to control their cycle. The tablets are taken daily, except on the menstruation days. While the overuse of the birth control use is discouraged, it is possible for women to “alter” their cycle by opting to keep taking the pill for a maximum of 3 days after their menstruation was meant to begin.
2. Female Condoms
Female condoms are plastic pouches made from nitrile, a form of rubber. It goes inside the female body during intercourse, using flexible rings to hold it in place painlessly. The female condom collects semen by lining your vaginal walls. It is inserted like a tampon, which requires some practice for most women.
Female condoms offer an array of advantages:
- Painless use
- No latex is used in the production of modern female condoms
- There are no changes to hormonal levels
- Can prevent the transmission of STDs at over 95%
- Does not have long term effects on fertility
- Can be chosen by women for protection when their partners do not wish to use a condom.
The use of a female condom does not necessitate an immediate removal straight after sex. This allows women to “enjoy” their experience longer without worrying about the risks of keeping the condom inside of them for too long.
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3. The Intrauterine Device (IUD)
IUDs are T-shaped devices that are fitted inside the uterus. They stop the sperm from reaching the egg, and release progestin to alter your cervical mucus and stop or decrease your production of eggs.
A few benefits of IUDs include:
- There exist hormone-free options, such as ParaGard, which is made from copper. Copper boosts your immune system’s ability to prevent pregnancy.
- Effective at over 99%
- Last up to 5 years
- Only require one investment
- Can be safely used by breastfeeding mothers
- Can be inserted at any point of your cycle
The use of an IUD will necessitate a medical examination, during which your OB/GYN will make sure you do not have a potentially harmful condition, such as pelvic infection, an STD, or cervical cancer. For most women, the process of receiving the IUD is mildly uncomfortable, but any remnant discomfort is likely to disappear after a couple of days. IUDs do not affect the sexual experience and do not move with penetration.
4. The Emergency Pill
As its name suggests, the emergency (post-coital) pill is an option for women who have recently had unprotected sex or have reason to believe the contraceptive method they used did not work. Emergency contraception uses a hormone called Levonorgestrel, which blocks the release of eggs or fertilized eggs in the uterus.
- Can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse
- Reduces the risk of pregnancy by 90%
- Requires a one-time use
- Is available over the counter at local clinics and pharmacies
The emergency contraceptive is highly effective as a last resort. However, its use should be occasional at most.
A Concluding Note
Birth control is now more accessible than ever. The chemical structure of its hormonal options has been altered to provide the safest contraceptives. However, there remain potential side-effects to birth control use, most of which may result from hormonal imbalance. To remain on the safe side, you will want to educate yourself on the detailed effects of the contraceptive you are using.
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If you’re looking to understand how your contraceptive use impacts your life, the options available to counter potential side effects, and how to keep your mental health in check when using hormonal treatments, contact EZCare clinic today. EZCare uses integrative medicine, a holistic, patient-oriented approach to provide the best care to women of all ages, with all reproductive backgrounds.
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