There are so many birth control options on the market today. How do you know which will be right for you? Do you understand all the pros and cons of each method? There are a lot of questions to be asked and a lot of avenues to explore. In this epinion, I hope to let you know what methods are available, a little insight into each option and a current list of efficacy. Remember the final decision is yours and should be discussed with your physician in depth.
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THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL
A birth control pill usually contains both estrogen and progesterone to suppress ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). This is something that needs to be taken daily and approximately at the same time everyday. There is a pill that contains only progesterone and is usually given to post-partum women or women who have trouble tolerating estrogen. Due to the lack of estrogen it has a slight lower efficacy rate. Newer pills have come out within the last few years and have had fewer side effects than the older pills with higher amounts of estrogen. Birth control pills help women who have painful periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, ovarian cysts, and if taken properly have a very good rate of effectiveness. Some side effects may include: weight gain, bloating, acne, lack of period, nausea, and the risk of stroke, heart attack and blood clots (increased in women over the age of 35 and smokers). These last few risks are rare but do need to be considered.
EFFECTIVENESS: 99% If taken properly.
NORPLANT (SUBDERMAL IMPLANTS)
These are small matchstick like implants that are surgically placed on the inside of your inner arm. These sticks contain progesterone and can be left in for up to five years. The benefit of this product is you do not have to remember to take a pill daily. Some of the disadvantages are: irregular menstrual bleeding, this product needs to be surgically implanted, headaches, nausea, dizziness and sometimes difficulty removing the implants.
Depo-Provera is an injection that contains progesterone only and is given every 12 weeks. As with the pill (that contains progesterone only) and the Norplant system the pros and cons are pretty similar. One other disadvantage is that it may take anywhere from six months to a year for your fertility and menstrual cycles to return to normal.
Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed on men to prevent semen from coming out during ejaculation. This is usually an in-office procedure and the patient goes home after a very short stay. This is usually done by a Urologist. This is a continuous birth control method and attempts to reverse it are not always successful. This is a fairly permanent birth control solution.
A tubal ligation is similar to that of a vasectomy, but for women. This is another surgical procedure that is usually done in the hospital, but most of the time does not require an over night stay. In this operation, the fallopian tubes are either tied off or cut to prevent the egg from being fertilized by sperm. Again, this is a permanent form of birth control but some doctors are able to reverse this surgery and repair the fallopian tube.
IUD (INTRAUTERINE DEVICE)
An IUD is a small device that is placed into a women’s uterus to float around and make the lining of the uterus irritated so that implantation of a fertilized egg can not implant. The Copper-T IUD does not contain any hormones. Some of the reported side effects of the IUD are: heavier periods, more cramping, may increase your risk of pelvic infections and in rare cases may perforate the uterus. This method of birth control has been made safe enough to last for up to ten years.
Now condoms are made for women as well as men. Condoms come in many different forms from lubricated to non-lubricated and ribbed to non-ribbed. This is a personal choice. The great benefit of condom use is that it protects you against some sexually transmitted diseases, prevents pregnancy and are very easily obtained. The tip I have for you on condoms is do not use petroleum (Vaseline and the like) for a lubricant. It can cause a higher risk of the condom breaking. Use a water-based lubricant.
Is a silicone round shaped semi-dome that is smeared with spermicide and inserted into the vagina. It must be left inside for a couple of hours after intercourse. This method also does not contain any hormones. It can cause some interruption to have to excuse yourself to go insert it. Some men do claim that they can feel the diaphragm.
The cervical cap is very similar to the diaphragm but is smaller and covers the opening of the uterus to prevent pregnancy. The nice thing about it is you can insert it anywhere from 1/2 hour to 48 hours prior to intercourse. With using the cervical cap, you may run a higher risk of infections. Some have difficulty inserting it. This device needs to be fitted by a doctor certified in cervical cap fitting.
This is a method that requires no other intervention. This requires women to be exact with the timing of their cycles. The not so good side is that your time to have intercourse averages out to only about ˝ the cycle. Not recommended for women with irregular cycles.
The nice part of spermicide is it is easily obtainable and works well with a barrier method. The purpose of spermicide is to kill sperm before it reaches the uterus. In most cases these products need to be inserted ˝ hour prior to intercourse. They tend to be messy and may cause urinary tract infections when used in combination with the diaphragm. You may also run the risk of an allergic reaction.
This last method also requires no other intervention. It is a birth control method provided by the male partner. It requires a great deal of control and in some instances sperm can leak out prior to ejaculation.
Please remember to research all of your options and discuss them with your doctor. The smartest move you can make is to educate yourself. I hope those of you looking for methods of birth control have found this epinion to be informative.
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