Birth control has been a hot topic of conversation around the US, and the world, and it always has been. There have been discussions on making it more accessible, making it more affordable, and making sure that the birth control methods on the market are going to be effective and not cause many side effects.
However, birth control can be a tricky road to navigate, because there seems to be a lot of options, and it can be hard to figure out which one would be right, and best, for you.
While it will always be best to speak to your medical provider about your options, and which one will work with you and your body, we can go through each option and offer a general overview of what it is, and what the pros and cons are of each one. While it may not be enough to make the decision for anyone, it is a good place to start.
Birth Control Is Not Just For Pregnancy Prevention
When we think of birth control, we think about preventing pregnancies. We know that they are the best way to make sure that there is not an unwanted pregnancy, even if it is not 100%. However, there are a lot of reasons why a woman would want to go on birth control that don’t have anything to do with pregnancy.
- According to WebMD, birth control can help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycleand this can be for the health of a woman, or just to find a way to make her period work for her lifestyle.
- Birth control can also help decrease the intensity of cramps, PMS and anemia. If birth control prevents ovulation, the lining of the uterus will be thinner, and this will make it easier to shed.
- It can also help control conditions like endometriosis and PCOSwhich can be painful and can disrupt a healthy lifestyle.
The condom is likely the most common form of birth control on the market, according to Sure Check, and it is a piece of latex that is put over the male’s penis before intercourse. Even though it is the most common, there may be some pros and cons that people are not aware of.
Pros of condoms
- When used correctly, it is 98% effective at preventing pregnancies.
- They are relatively affordable and accessible, with many health offices handing them out at no cost.
- They are also effective against STDs, and they can be sexy if they are used as part of foreplay in the bedroom.
- There are no hormones involved, so it will not have an impact on your fertility or your health.
Cons of comdoms
- There are those who are allergic to latex, and would not be able to use these
- They do have the ability to rip, and it is always recommended that a couple uses another form as a back-up. Always check the date on the wrapper. Even if the date hasn’t expired, if it’s been sitting in your drawer for quite some time, it has the possibility to rip.
Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill is one of the more popular forms of birth control for women. According to Very Well Health, it works with a woman’s hormones, and it involves her taking a pill every day for three weeks. The last week involves nothing, or a sugar pill, which will induce a period.
Pros of birth control pill
- When it is used properly, it is more than 99% effective.
- It is convenient, and there can be an added spontaneity in intimacy, because you do not need to plan in advance.
- It can lead to lighter periods, and it can improve some PMS symptoms, like cramps.
- Women can have some control over when they get their period that best works for their lifestyles.
Cons of birth control pill
- Since it is a medication, it does come with some side effects like headaches, nausea and irregular bleeding.
- You have to remember to take it every day, and preferably at the same time, for it to be effective.
- It can come with some more serious side effects like blood clots, and changes to your weight and mood.
According to Medline Plus, an IUD is another popular form of birth control, and it is a small, plastic and T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus. It stays in position to prevent pregnancy. There are copper-releasing IUD’s and Progestin-releasing IUD’s.
Pros of IUDs
- They are incredibly effective at preventing pregnancies, more than 99%.
- There is no planning when it comes to birth control.
- They can last 3 to 10 years, making it one of the cheapest forms.
- Your fertility returns almost immediately following removal.
- Copper-releasing IUD’s do not use hormones, so there are no hormonal side effects to worry about.
Cons of IUDs
- They offer no protection against STD’s.
- A medical professional needs to insert them, which can be time-consuming.
- In some instances, they can shift out of place and this can lead to some serious consequences for a woman’s health.
- Copper-releasing IUD’s can cause cramps and longer / heavier periods.
There is a birth control injection that can be taken, and it involves releasing the hormone progesterone into the blood and this will prevent pregnancies. According to NHS, there are many kinds available, and they all have their own benefits and risks.
Pros of injections
- When used correctly they are more than 99% effective
- They can last anywhere from 8 to 13 weeks depending on what injection you get.
- It is helpful to women who cannot remember to take a pill every day.
Cons of injections
- Offers no protection against STD’s.
- You have to return to get repeat injections, which can be difficult to maintain.
- There are side effects like weight gain, headaches, mood swings, and irregular bleeding.
- It can take up to 1 year for your fertility to return once you stop taking the injections.
There is also a birth control patch that you wear on your arm, and it has the hormones estrogen and progestin, and it works to prevent you from getting pregnant, according to Mayo Clinic. You change the patch once a week for three weeks. On the fourth week, you go without, and this will incite a period.
Pros of the patch
- It is easy to use, and it does not rely on memory to take a pill every day.
- The dose of hormones is steady, and not a sudden rush.
- When removed, a return to fertility is quick.
Cons of the patch
- There is an increased risk of blood clots.
- It has no protection against STD’s.
- It can lead to skin irritation where the patch is placed.
- It can make cramps worse during your menstrual cycle.
According to Mayo Clinic, Plan B is a form of birth control, but it is known as an “emergency birth control.” This is a medication that is taken within a certain time frame after being intimate when a woman thinks her birth control may have failed. The pill will not terminate a pregnancy that is already established, but it will prevent one from happening if taken in time.
Pros of Plan B
- Can help prevent a pregnancy that is not established.
- Fairly accessible for women.
- Offers piece of mind to any woman who thinks she may need it.
Cons of Plan B
- Must be taken in a certain time period for it to be effective.
- No protection against STDs.
- Can interact with other medications.
- There are some risks of side effects like nausea, dizziness, fatigue, headache and cramping.
There are many types of birth control on the market, and now that we have a snapshot view at what each of them are, and how they are used, it can help prepare us for making the decision and taking the next step in speaking to a medical professional.
Sources: WebMD, Sure Check, Very Well Health, Medline Plus, NHS, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic