10 Things to Know About Birth Control
How much do you know about birth control? Granted, plenty of people have a basic understanding of what they do: serve as contraception. But could you identify the type that would serve you best? And are you aware of the other purposes for it?
The following blog is an overview of the most popular methods of birth control, how they work, and reasons in addition to contraception to use them.
What are the Most Common Types of Birth Control?
1. Condoms. Condoms are the most popular form of birth control because they are easily accessible. They are also a preferred method for people who are not in monogamous relationships since they can also protect from several sexually transmitted diseases. Do note that you could still contract an STD even if you use a condom since it doesn’t always cover all vulnerable areas.
They are also an effective way to reduce the likelihood of infection during anal and oral sex. The best way to increase their efficacy is to follow these recommendations:
– Store at room temperature.
– Always check the expiration date.
– Don’t “double up”. Wearing two condoms at once can increase the chance of breakage.
– Wear them from beginning to end. Do not think that a woman can only become pregnant when the male ejaculates. Pregnancy is also possible through pre-ejaculatory bodily fluids.
2. Oral contraceptives. Also known as “the pill.” This is an easy way to prevent pregnancy since all the woman has to do is to take the contraceptive once a day. That said, for it to work effectively, you do have to take it every single day; so this is not the best method for forgetful people.
If you remember to take it correctly, it’s an effective method to avoid pregnancy, since it prevents ovulation.
It’s crucial to note that with the exception of condoms, no other contraceptive method protects you from sexually transmitted diseases. So opt for this alternative if you know for a fact that your one, single sexual partner is also exclusive with you and has no STDs.
3. IUD. The letters stand for Intrauterine Device. It’s a small piece of plastic, shaped like a T. It releases hormones into your bloodstream that can either prevent ovulation or block sperm from reaching an egg.
IUDs are an excellent alternative for women who know they do not wish to become a mother any time soon (or ever). Once inserted, the woman won’t have to worry about birth control for several years (speak with your gynecologist about specific brands, since the timeframe can range from three to twelve years).
4. The Patch. The patch is another hormonal method that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs, increases the thickness of cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg, and it causes the lining of the uterus to become porous, so that in the event that there is fertilization, the egg doesn’t implant on the uterus.
The patch is placed directly on your skin and is only available by prescription. It must be replaced weekly.
5. Emergency Contraception. This is also known as “the morning after pill” and it comes with a lot of misconceptions. This is not an “abortion” pill. For an abortion to occur, a fertilized egg has to attach to the uterus. However, when a woman takes emergency contraception within 72 hours of having unprotected sex (or if the condom broke/forgot to take the pill/insert another mishap here), this pill will temporarily stop the release of eggs from the ovaries. If an egg was already released, the pill can prevent that egg from becoming fertilized by sperm. And if an egg has already been fertilized, the pill will prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. You’re pretty much using the pill to act as a barrier to prevent pregnancy from occurring.
While all of the birth control methods listed above are effective, none of them are 100% failproof. It’s important to have a thorough conversation with your OB-GYN to discuss your sex life and overall health. Hormonal alternatives may have side effects or not work effectively if you are taking certain medications.
What Other Uses Exist for Birth Control?
In addition to preventing pregnancy, certain types of contraceptives are often used for other medical reasons. The most common ones include:
6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormone imbalance that causes women to experience irregular periods, unusually heavy menstruation, pelvic pain, and excessive hair growth on the body. Taking birth control pills can help regulate hormones to prevent PCOS symptoms.
7. Treating Acne. Women with chronic acne can tell you how frustrating it is to try different types of topical face washes and ointments to no avail. Taking birth control pills can reduce a woman’s production of a waxy substance called sebum. Lower sebum often means fewer breakouts.
8. Preventing migraines. Most women can attest to the fact that premenstrual symptoms can be brutal. For some females, these include migraines, which are a result of a drop in estrogen. By taking birth control pills, this hormone can be regulated and therefore significantly reduce (and sometimes, completely eliminate) migraines related to PMS.
9. Ease endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when tissue that is usually only found inside the uterus starts growing outside the womb. During a regular menstrual cycle, this tissue is released with your period. However, if it grows elsewhere, it has nowhere to go. This results in severe pain and can cause infertility. Certain contraceptives prevent pain associated with endometriosis by preventing tissue growth.
10. Treating Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. Also known as Primary Ovarian Failure. This condition occurs when a woman doesn’t produce enough estrogen for her ovaries to function properly resulting in vaginal dryness, irritability, and hot flashes before the age of 40. Oral contraceptives can help regulate estrogen levels.
Contact OB-GYN Women’s Centre Today for More Birth Control Information
At OB-GYN Women’s Center, one of our goals is to establish good relationships with our patients. For this to happen, we foster an environment of trust. This is to help you feel comfortable asking us any questions about your reproductive health.
We are confident that if a question popped into your head, we’ve had the same inquiry countless times before. Contact us to schedule an appointment. We are happy to assist you.