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Ladies…. Let’s have a chat. You see, until I reached my early 20’s I didn’t really know there were many options for contraception, and even then I had a very narrow scope of understanding. Further to that, it was only when I was having trouble conceiving my first child that I started looking into the side effects of contraceptives. In a world where we are so health conscious and so ‘aware’ I had no clue what the contraceptive I was using was doing to my body, nor did I understand my options.
I’ve had major issues in the past because of the contraceptives I’ve used. It took 12 months to conceive my first child, I’ve had reactions so severe that they physically made me ill, I’ve had weight gain, weight loss, mood swings… I’ve had the works. I’ve finally worked out what works best for me and I encourage you to do the same.
So today I’m going to talk about the different types of contraceptives. I’m not going to tell you which one is best or which one you shouldn’t use because everyone is different. But as someone who wants to do the best for my body, to have the healthiest outcome possible, I think it is important that you know there are options.
As with all medical decisions, it is also best that you speak with your doctor about your options. Questions I believe to be important to ask include:
– What side effects are there – if any?
– How long does this method last? (For Example – the Depo Provera injection lasts 12 weeks)
– How long can I use this method for? (For Example – how long can I stay on the pill for?)
– Will this method of contraception affect my ability to conceive in the future?
This post is written so as to inform you of some of the more common contraceptive options so that you can then start your own research into which would be most suitable for you.
Condoms are the only contraceptive that offers both protection from unintended pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). They are a barrier method that can be used in conjunction with other contraceptives in order to increase effectiveness and to protect against STIs. They provide no ‘long term’ contraception and a new condom is used each time you have sex. This also means there is no impact on your menstruation cycle.
You have the option of the combination pill or the progesterone only pill (or mini pill). Both versions of ‘The Pill’ are taken daily and rely on being taken consistently (and at the same time of day) for effectiveness. The combined pill contains both oestrogen and progestogen whereas the ‘Mini Pill’ only contains a low dose of progestogen. The ‘Mini Pill’ is preferred for some women who may have significant health issues or are breastfeeding.
The diaphragm is a soft silicone device that is placed into the vagina prior to having sex. It covers the cervix and therefore stops sperm getting into the uterus. In order to be effective you need to be fitted for the right size by a doctor and given instructions on how to place it properly. It is less effective than other forms of contraception.
Depo Provera Injection
This is an injection given to you by a doctor and lasts 12 weeks. This works by stopping ovulation and during that time it is unlikely that you will have your period, which is a major selling point for some and a major put off for others. This form of contraception also warns of a delay in return to fertility after use. It is also highly recommended to speak with your doctor about the length of time using this contraception as it can reduce bone density (however usually returns to normal after ceasing the use of the contraceptive). This contraception cannot be reversed and lasts the entire 12 week timeframe.
Contraceptive Implant – Implanon
The implant is a small plastic rod that is inserted under the skin near the bicep muscle. It releases a low dose of the progestogen hormone and has a 3 year timeframe. It too works by preventing ovulation and can also be removed at any time. With regards to menstrual flow, some women report no changes, some women report lighter or no periods and some women have irregular or persistent bleeding.
Hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Also known as the Mirena, the IUD is a device that is fitted inside the uterus by a doctor qualified in this form of contraception. It has a 5 year timeframe and slowly releases a low dose of the progestogen hormone. When using this form of contraception your periods may become lighter or stop altogether. The IUD can be removed at any time.
Copper Intrauterine Device (Cu-IUD)
The Copper IUD is also fitted inside the uterus by a doctor and is made from plastic and copper. It works by stopping the sperm from reaching the egg and also stops a fertilised egg from implanting into the wall of the uterus. This device does not release any hormones and has no effect on your period however you may notice a heavier flow. They have a 5 – 10 year timeframe depending on the type used and can be removed at any time.
The Contraceptive Ring – NuvaRing
Working much like the oral pill, the contraceptive ring is self-inserted and remains in the vagina for 3 weeks. It is the removed and replaced with a new ring a week later. It contains both oestrogen and progestogen and both are released in a low dose.
Emergency Contraception is just that – to be used to reduce to risk of unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex. Commonly known as ‘The Morning After Pill’, this is not a regular method of contraception and should not be relied upon as the only form of contraception used. The Emergency Contraceptive Pill can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex but is most effective when taken within the first 24 hours.
Contraception isn’t something we talk enough about as women. We tend to feel embarrassed or feel that we should just continue on using what we already use. But it is so important we know our options and know what impact they have on our health. So my take away action for you is this: make an appointment with your GP to discuss contraceptive options. It may be that the one you’re on is the best for you right now – but you may also find something that works better. Share this with your friends so they too can reassess what contraceptive methods they using and if they are the best option for them right now.
This post was kindly sponsored by Durex. Please seek medical advice from your doctor when choosing which contraceptive method is best for you.