Before taking any birth control, it is important to understand how birth control works and what it could mean to your health to practice various forms of birth control. Understanding the different types of contraceptive options that are available is critical in making the best decision for you. It’s also valuable to understand how your body works and to track your monthly cycles. At LifeTalk, our medical professionals are happy to educate you about available contraception methods and help you feel empowered. Though the most common forms of birth control are for women, there are forms of contraception for men as well.
Types of Contraception Include:
- IUD: Also known as an intrauterine device, which usually takes the form of a small T-shaped plastic device inserted into the uterine opening – they can use copper or levonorgestrel, with failure rates of 0.8% and 0.2% respectively and have no adverse affects on fertility when removed, even after extended use. Side effects can include cramping and increased menstrual blood flow with copper IUDs and reduced or totally ceased menstrual flow with levonorgestrel, discomfort, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Birth Control Pill: One of the more commonly thought of forms of contraception, birth control pills require daily intake of a pill and come in combined and progestin-only pills; while both are effective, the former is more closely associated with adverse side effects, while the latter is typically considered more stringent with dosage times (the pill must be taken within 3 hours of the time it was taken the previous day, as opposed to the more lenient 12 hours with combined pills.)
- Condoms: Latex or otherwise, female and male condoms are effective forms of contraception and are not subject to the side effects of hormonal birth control or the use of an IUD – they are, however, not foolproof and can be defeated by improper use, breakage and slippage. Condoms are typically used in conjunction with another form of birth control, such as spermicidal lubricants or even hormonal birth control/IUD.
- Contraceptive Patch: Effectively a combined pill in patch form, patches require a prescription and have a specific method to their usage that must be followed carefully for maximum efficacy to be retained; they are extremely effective, with failure rates of only 0.3% with perfect use, but are also subject to many of the same side effects that combined pill contraceptives have.
- Contraceptive Injection DMPA: An injection akin to the use of progestin-only pill, it has the advantage of requiring application only once every three months and failure rate of just 0.2% with perfect use, but is disadvantaged by the possible loss of bone density in the user, which may or may not return following discontinuation of use of this form of contraception. It is also, like pills, patches and IUDs, ineffective at preventing STDs.
Remember that STDs are still fully transmissible with most forms of contraception except for the use of condoms (and there is still a risk there given breakages/slippages) so be aware that your use of birth control, even perfect use, may prevent pregnancy but will not necessarily prevent the transmission of disease. It is worth noting that some couples “double up” on birth control, such as using the pill or other chemical form of contraception with condoms – this has the effect of improving net effectiveness of birth control but never completely mitigates the chance of pregnancy; rather it lowers it to a value that approaches zero. For additional education about birth control, call to speak with an LifeTalk staff member.
It is recommended that before taking an emergency contraceptive (generally the Morning After Pill and EllaOne) you speak with a medical professional. At LifeTalk, we are happy to speak with you about how this type of contraception works and what it could mean to your health. For additional information on contraceptives, contact us or make an appointment.