Which Birth Control is Best for You?
Figuring out which type of birth control is best for you can be a struggle. No matter what your friends tell you, what you see on Tiktok, or what the reviews may be, the honest truth is that everyone’s bodies react differently to each method. The only way to truly know is based on trail and error. I began incredibly interested in the different birth control options after having some difficulty adjusting to the pill. This quarter in school I took a women’s health course. This lab and lecture based course is taught by nurses who spend their days in the hospital delivering babies, and their nights teaching at Depaul. Birth control was a common curiosity and concern among the women in the class and the unit went in depth about the advantages and disadvantages of common contraception methods. Throughout this article I am going to share with you what I have learned from this course as a way to help with your birth control journey in finding which method is best for you, your body, and your lifestyle.
The most common method of contraception today is sterilization. Over 18% of the women using contraceptives in the United States are becoming sterilized. This irreversible form of birth control is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. This is a medical procedure that requires surgery. After making the decision to become sterilized, many women have the procedure done immediately after having a cesarean birth. This is an efficient solution to avoid having two surgeries done. Before discussing the benefits and side effects for sterilization, it is important to understand what exactly this procedure includes. During the surgery, the surgeon will block or seal the fallopian tubes in order to prevent sperm from traveling through them to fertilize an egg. There are several ways to preform this procedure, but the most common two are either removing the fallopian tubes completely, or removing a small piece of the tube with a cut and tying each end shut. Female sterilization is viewed as a minor procedure and can be done either on general or local anesthetic depending on the chosen method. Women are also able to return home the same day of their operation. Other than sterilization being the most effective form of contraction, besides abstinence, there are many other physical health benefits to this form of contraception. A big advantage is that unlike other forms of birth control may, sex drive and hormone levels are not affected. It is no longer necessary to put hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy, therefore the side effects that come along with that will not exist. Sex overall will not be interfered with sterilization, and the procedure will be effective immediately. This form of birth control is not perfect though and just like anything else there are physical side effects that come along with it. First, sterilization does not protect against sexually transmitted infections or diseases. It is still a good idea to wear a condom to lower the risk of catching something, especially if there are multiple partners involved. Next, as mentioned earlier, this is an irreversible form of contraception. Unlike other forms of birth control such as the pill, implant, IUD, etc, being able to conceive after the procedure is extremely rare so it is important to be confident in this decision. Lastly, due to the fact that a surgical procedure is required to become sterilized, there is a small risk of complications during the operation such as internal bleeding, infection, or damage to other organs.
The second most common form of birth control among women aged 15-49 in the United States is the oral contraceptivee pill. The rate of use is over 12% and it is important to start to understand what makes it more appealing to women than other reversible contraceptive methods. To start, the pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. But women use the pill for more than just preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills are also used to reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods, and lower the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. More health benefits that can come from using the pill include, cleared acne, anemia prevention, more manageable PMS, and reduced serious infections in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Another benefit that the pill can offer is connivence. While using the pill, pregnancy prevention does not need to be thought about during sex, unlike other methods such as condoms. A prescription is required in order to have access to birth control pills, but delivery makes it even more convenient to get them fast and efficiently. In order for all of these health benefits to be in effect, the pill must be taken consistently everyday at the same time. If a day or two are forgotten, the risk of pregnancy remains and the less effective it will be to help in other physical ways. This is seen as one of the negative side effects for the pill because everyone has busy lives and it can be hard to constantly remember to take a pill. Another negative side effect is that another form of contraception should be used the first week of going on the pill because it takes time to become completely effective. If the goal is to have immediate pregnancy prevention, the pill may not be the right choice. The pill also does not prevent STD’s or STI’s, a condom is required to do so. Doubling up on condom and pill contraceptive methods is not uncommon, especially when more than one partner is in the picture. Other negative physical side effects of the birth control pill may include, weight gain, mood swings, and a decreased sex drive. These side effects do not occur for every woman, but due to the hormones included in the pill they are possible and not seen as uncommon.
The third form of birth control, and final one that will be discussed, is the IUD. Similar to the effectiveness of the pill and sterilization, an IUD is over 99% effective for preventing pregnancy. Once this reversible contraceptive method has been inserted by a heath care professional, it can stay inside and prevent pregnancy for 3-5 years depending on the brand. Non hormonal copper IUD’s can stay in and be effective for up to 10 years. This is an extremely appealing health benefit for many young women who have no interest in becoming pregnant anytime soon. An IUD makes it possible for women, and couples to not have to think about that chance of pregnancy during sex, but also not worry about pregnancy for years. Another appealing health benefit for IUD’s is that both hormonal and non hormonal versions are available, creating a contraception method that can be used by everyone. Copper non hormonal IUD’s can also be used as emergency contraception. Having it inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex is more than 99% effective against pregnancy. The negative health side effects of IUD’s may look different for every women. Many, but not all, women experience severe cramping while getting the IUD inserted into place. It is a fast and small procedure, but it is not uncommon to experience pain, cramping, and spotting for days or weeks after the procedure. Another side effect is that just like the pill and sterilization, IUD’s do not protect against STD’s or STI’s. And lastly, it is rare but still a negative side effect, an IUD can slip out of place. There is no possibility of user error, like there is with the pill info taken consistently, but if by chance the IUD was fitted or placed in wrong there is a chance that it could move. This may result in the use of alternate forms of contraction until it can be replaced or re inserted.
I am a 22 year old student at Depaul University living in the heart of Chicago