As a female, there are many different forms of birth control methods available to prevent the risk of unwanted pregnancy. In fact, there are so many options that it may seem overwhelming to choose from. There are numerous methods that many women are very familiar with, like a diaphragm or male condoms; however, there are many forms on the market to explore. When trying to decide which would be the best for you and your body, consider some of the following pros and cons of each form of contraceptive.
Although the birth control pill was controversial when first introduced to the public, women worldwide now use it. However, did you know that there are a number of different brands of birth control pills on the market? Your physician should be able to advise you on the one that will best suit your body. It may take trying a couple of different brands with varying estrogen levels to find the right fit for you.
Pros: The pill helps reduce acne, cramps and the amount of blood flow during the menstrual cycle in some women. It is non-intrusive and taken orally.
Cons: Two of the most experienced side effects are weight gain and moodiness. For some women, switching over to a pill with lower amounts of hormones will help to alleviate this problem. Another con is that missing a day or even not taking it at the exact same time every day, greatly reduces its effectiveness.
An IUD (intrauterine device) can be placed by a physician or gynecologist in a 10-minute outpatient procedure. It resides in a woman’s uterus with two small strings that sit outside the woman’s cervix. There are two different kinds of IUDs- a copper IUD and a hormone-emitting IUD.
Pros: The copper IUD lasts for 10 years and is free of hormones. This benefits woman whose mood is affected by hormones in their birth control. Once in place, the device requires little attention and is 99 percent effective. There are four different hormonal IUDs to choose from to enable you to choose the right fit for your body.
Cons: Many women complain of severe cramping and spotting in the initial first 6 months after having their IUD placed but many felt them diminish over time. The hormonal IUD has had fewer complaints due to the number of hormones that it emits.
In a tubal ligation, the physician cauterizes the fallopian tubes during an inpatient hospital procedure. Another form of tubal ligation is a new-to-the-market form of birth control called an Essure. The Essure is a 15-minute outpatient procedure that involves the placement of two small springs into the fallopian tubes that triggers the body to form a barrier of scar tissue around them, much like a tubal ligation.
Pros: This can be a permanent, non-hormonal form of birth control for a woman if she decides that she never wants to have children. Although the procedure is reversible, it requires another inpatient surgery.
Cons: It is not a 100 percent guarantee that the reversal would be successful in the event that a woman who has a tubal ligation decides that they want to have children. The Essure device has been known to have severe side effects such as autoimmune diseases and perforating the uterine wall. The Essure is also non-reversible. The only way to have an Essure device removed is the removal of the fallopian tubes that house the device.
Barrier methods create a physical barrier to prevent sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg. There are common barrier methods are the male condom, female condom, sponges, cervical cap, diaphragm, and film. They are most effective when used in conjunction with spermicidal foam.
Pros: The barrier methods, only used during vaginal intercourse, do not emit any hormones that may cause adverse side effects. A diaphragm is useful for women who have a heavy menstrual flow, as it restricts the blood flow when in place. Barrier methods are also beneficial for women who are breastfeeding or are planning to become pregnant in the near future.
Cons: Some women complain of vaginal infections and/or urinary tract infections as a result of using barrier methods. A high number of women are allergic to the materials that condoms, spermicides, and diaphragms are made of. These allergies cause reactions and discomfort. Cervical caps and diaphragms have to be left in for 6 hours or more before removed, washed and stored away which can be embarrassing and a deterrent for some women. When cervical caps or diaphragms are left in for more than 24 hours it increases the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Although this list includes many of the most popular forms of birth control, it is not entirely comprehensive. When choosing the type of birth control to use, listen to what your body is telling you that it needs. There is no need to continue to use a form of birth control that is causing discomfort or negative side effects. Lastly, please remember that although contraceptives work to prevent pregnancy they do not, however, protect you from STDs.