The contraceptive pill burst onto the scene about fifty years ago. Since then, there have been new advances that have made it more effective. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the daily dose. This begs the question, is the pill still a good choice for contraception?
The birth control pill is one of the most effective methods of birth control with the pregnancy prevention rate being around 99 percent. The rate varies depending on the concentration of hormones in the pill but the effectiveness stays above 90 percent no matter which type of pill you take.
This is how the pill ideally works. When you take it, hormones are released into your system. Some pills have estrogen and progestin, while others have either. The level of hormone prevents ovulation. That’s the point at which an egg is released from the ovaries and travels down the fallopian tubes in hopes of meeting its sperm counterpart and creating a baby. Without an egg, there is nothing for the sperm to seek out.
There are various side effects with the pill. For instance, you can experience nausea, pain, vomiting, breast tenderness, headaches, bloating or decreased sex drive. It sounds a lot like what you already feel while you’re on your period. Certain side effects increase with the length of time on the pill and your age. Smokers are not encouraged to use the pill because there is an increase in the risk of heart disease and blood clots if you are over thirty-five.
Pros to Using the Pill:
- The pill, when taken properly, does prevent pregnancy.
- Certain pills have other benefits besides pregnancy prevention. With the brand Seasonale, for example, all of the pills contain the same dose of hormone. These pills are designed to prevent a period for eight months out of the year. Other pill brands help with acne, abnormal bleeding and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
- The pill can be taken at any time during the day but it is best to take it at the same time each day.
Cons of Birth Control Pills:
- You have to remember to take it. There are instructions on the package for what to do when you miss a day, but another form of contraception is suggested until you take the pill for at least seven consecutive days.
- The contraceptive pill doesn’t prevent sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV.
- They can be expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover them.
The contraceptive pill is still the choice of many women today. If you get into a routine of taking it, you are less likely to forget it. For pregnancy prevention it is a highly effective method of birth control, but it does not prevent STD.
IUDs: Contraceptives without Worry
When the time is right, many women are eager to begin their family. Until then, if you are within the child-bearing age range, pregnancy can occur even if you aren’t ready. To prevent unwanted pregnancies, seek a form of birth control that works for you and your lifestyle. One such method is the IUD.
IUD stands for intrauterine device. Earlier devices included the Dalkon Shield which fell out of favor some twenty or more years ago when women began getting serious infections with them. Now, the IUD has made a comeback, with safer methods than ever before.
The IUD is over 99 percent effective at stopping pregnancy. It rivals the traditional birth control pill for pregnancy prevention. With an intrauterine device, pregnancy is prevented for anywhere from five to ten years as long as the device stays in place.
The general shape of an IUD is like a capital letter “T.” the device is inserted into the vagina by a doctor. The top of the device extends into the fallopian tube openings with the rest of it hanging inside the vagina. There are two strings that extend from the end of the device for easy removal when you are ready.
There are two types of IUDs on the market: copper and hormonal. The copper IUD is branded ParaGard. It can be inserted for up to ten years at a time. The device works by releasing copper into the vagina which in effect, kills the sperm. The device also inhibits implantation of the egg should the sperm reach it.
The Mirena is a hormonal IUD. It contains hormones much like the pill that makes the uterus unsuitable for implantation by an egg. It has the same shape as the copper IUD and inhibits the motility of the sperm to reach the egg.
Pros of IUD Methods of Birth Control:
- Both IUDs, copper and hormonal, offer protection from pregnancy without worry. The device stays in place with low maintenance. Doctors recommend you check once a month for the presence of the strings to be sure it is still in place in the vagina.
- The Mirena offers women lighter or, for some, the absence of periods. Also, cramping is virtually nonexistent with the hormonal version.
Cons of IUDs:
- IUDs do not protect against sexually-transmitted diseases. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, this device may not be for you.
- There is a chance of bacterial infection after insertion.
- The device can expel itself spontaneously. This is why doctors recommend you check to see if you can feel the strings regularly. Once the device is out, pregnancy can occur at any time.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding is a side effect.
IUDs offer birth control without worry. You don’t have to remember each day to take something or have to concern yourself with regard to insertion and removal. IUDs work best when the two partners are committed to each other, but are not ready to start a family just yet.