Condoms are an essential form of birth control as they also protect against STD’s and HIV : something that no other form of birth control does. If you are having casual sex then using a condom is a must. It’s also the safest form of birth control as it stops the sperm from even entering the vagina. If the sperm can’t get in, then the sperm can’t do any harm. 🙂 The only down side of condoms is that you have to remember to use them when you have intercourse. It can be very tempting to take the risk not to use them but if you do not want to get pregnant or contract a possible STD from having casual intercourse then take that extra second and remind yourself to be safe.
Birth control pills work differently from condoms. For a start they do not protect against STD’s and HIV, they only protect against pregnancy. Birth control pills work hormonally to prevent pregnancy by altering your body’s hormones so the sperm cannot get to the egg to fertilize it once it has entered the body. Pills are a very common form of birth control as they are relatively cheap when covered by health insurance. Most health insurance does cover at least one or two option of birth control pills. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance won’t cover a specific brand then you can always find them online for a fraction of the price. Another reason why birth control pills are popular is because they are non-intrusive. The pill is taken orally, one tablet a day, just like many other medications. There’s not much to not like about birth control pills although you should know that after stopping taking birth control pills it can take your body a few months for natural menstruation to regulate so it can take a while to fall pregnant afterwards. Here is some more information on birth control pills.
So what other methods of birth control are available out there? There are birth control patches, IUD’s, coils, Vaginal rings, birth control shots but there are also less conventional methods of birth control like using spermicidal pessaries/gels and even more unconventional methods like withdrawal.
Birth control patches like Evra are easy to use and are only applied once a week so you don’t need to remember taking pills daily. Patches are a good alternative to pills for people with gastro issues. This is because some pills can affect people with gastro issues negatively. It’s just like having a plaster attached to you for an extended period of time, only it’s a plaster that releases hormones. For some people patches are not the answer as they are visible (especially in the summer when you are less covered up) and they always need to be firmly attached. If they are not firmly sealed to the skin then you can be left unprotected. Here is some more information on birth control patches.
Birth control injections like Depo-Provera are administered by a nurse or a doctor every 3 months. It makes the birth control very easy to use but it does mean getting injections and regular visits to the doctor which is not comfortable or convenient for some people. Some side effects like irregular menstrual bleeding and weight gain have been reported as well. One of the best things about using hormonal birth control is that it regulates your periods! You know exactly when they are coming! Shots give you the hormones but it doesn’t regulate your periods as well as other methods like birth control pills, rings and patches. Something to think about”¦..
IUD’s like Mirena until now have been less popular as they are vaginally invasive and sometimes painful to fit but the huge benefits have skyrocketed their popularity in recent months. IUD’s last for years and rarely need anything adjusting so you can have peace of mind about birth control for 5 years at a time. Yearly gynecological check-ups are still recommended though but this is the case regardless of whether you are using birth control or not. Mirena slowly releases hormones into the bloodstream over the years which act to protect against pregnancy but the good thing is that the IUD can be taken out by your doctor at any point. A big plus is that it also helps reduce the heaviness of your periods and in some cases periods stop altogether. Unlike like other methods of birth control, when you take out the IUD your body regulates menstruation very quickly so you can start trying to get pregnant right away. If you are looking for long term birth control, this is definitely the cheapest option too. Some copper IUD’s work without hormones so for anyone who does not want to take hormonal medication this is also an excellent and pregnancy safe option. Here is some more information on the birth control IUD.
Vaginal rings like Nuvaring are also inserted vaginally but it is not as an invasive procedure as you fit them yourselves at home, it’s no more uncomfortable to fit than using a tampon. Vaginal rings work like birth control pills and patches to release hormones into your bloodstream and they stay in for 3 weeks straight. This is a very appealing method of birth control for anyone who is slightly forgetful or who just doesn’t want the reminder of birth control every day. The cost is a bit more than using regular birth control pills but for many it’s a great option. Here is some more information on birth control rings.
Spermicidal pessaries like Glovan are considered unconventional but it’s definitely an interesting option for women who do not want to take anything hormonal. Spermicides like Glovan are used 15 minutes before intercourse takes place but the effect last for quite a few hours so there’s no need to rush into intercourse like there is when you use a condom. The spermicide basically kills the sperm so it stops it from getting to the egg to fertilize it but it also de-activates it so even if it did reach the egg it would not result in pregnancy. The price for Glovan is very reasonable but like condoms, you have to remember to use it. It is also not as effective as hormonal methods of birth control. Only about 89% effective, compared to 98-99%.
Moving even more into the unconventional area and you can start talking about withdrawal methods (where the man pulls out just before he ejaculates) and using things like NFP Sympto-Thermal method (natural family planning). This is where you track your ovulation and menstruation and only have intercourse during your infertile days. The problem with this is prescription medication and bouts of illne3ss can affect your menstrual cycle and you might not realize until it’s too late. In our opinion (we are real pharmacists who specialize in birth control) methods like these can be far less accurate and can result in mistakes. There are many kinds of birth control out there to choose from. If you are very serious about not becoming pregnant then using a more conventional method of birth control is a better way to go, for peace of mind.