May 02, 2019 • Lucy Muiruri
Selecting a contraceptive method for the first time can be a daunting/challenging experience. How do you really know? How do I really know? Well ladies, in this blog post, I got you on this topic!
Nowadays, there are multiple types of contraceptives and selecting the right method depends on your health, lifestyle and socioeconomic circumstances. You need to take into account variables such as age, medical history, lifestyle and so much more. The reality is that when it comes to contraception, there isn’t a one size fits all method. This is why it is important to know your options, and only select a method after a doctor’s examination and approval. In this blog post, we are going to highlight 3 steps that you can take to ensure you select the right contraceptive method.
Research what contraceptive methods are available within your area and understand how they work. Specifically, understand your role as the user in ensuring the method is efficient their composition (hormonal versus non-hormonal) and effectiveness. There are 5 types of contraceptive methods: long acting reversible contraception (LARC), hormonal methods, barrier methods, emergency contraception, and sterilization. Below is a brief overview of each type of method and how they work:
LARCs are contraceptive methods that last long and require minimum user interaction. They are sometimes called “fit and forget” contraception because a user doesn’t need to remember to take them every day or every month. Any time, a user would like to get pregnant, they can just get the method removed. They include intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants. IUDs are inserted in the vagina and can offer protection for up to 10 years while implants are inserted under the arm and can offer protection for up to 5 years. In this category, only the copper IUD is a non-hormonal method. Long acting methods are considered to be 99% effective. This means that if 100 women use a specific LARC as a contraceptive method only 1 will get pregnant.
Hormonal methods are also called short acting hormonal methods because they require renewal often or need to be taken daily. They include options such as daily pills, injections, the patch, and the vaginal ring. They use hormones to regulate ovulation or stop pregnancy. These methods are considered to be 99% effective when used correctly but generally less than 95% effective with typical use. This is because they require more user involvement (e.g. a pill needs to be taken every day, the patch has to be renewed every week for three weeks in every month)
Barrier methods are designed to keep sperm from entering the uterus, they are removable and are often recommended for women who cannot use hormonal methods. They include the male condom, the female condom, spermicides, diaphragms, and cervical caps. The male condom is 98% effective when used correctly, the female condom is 95% effective when used correctly while the diaphragm and cervical cap are 92-96% effective when used correctly and with spermicide all the time.
Emergency contraception is a form of contraceptive that can be used generally within 72 hours of having sex without being on a regular or long acting contraceptive method, or if a condom breaks. It’s usually a pill or two pills taken 12 hours apart. Additionally, the copper IUD can also be used as EC when inserted within 5 days of having unprotected sex. An emergency pill usually reduces the risk of pregnancy by 89%. Important to note: the key word in this method is emergency which means it should not be considered as a regular method. It is better to use any of the other types of contraceptives to avoid being in emergency situations. Who wants to live a life on the edge?
Sterilization is a form of birth control that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from releasing sperm. The two most popular methods under this category are tubal ligation (for women) vasectomy (for men). A tubal ligation is a surgical procedure during which the doctor cuts, ties, closes the fallopian tubes. A vasectomy is a surgical procedure during which the doctor blocks the path between the testes and urethra keeping sperm from leaving the testes and reaching the egg.
Now that you are an expert on the different types of contraceptives. Think about your lifestyle and also unique characteristics. Are you someone who often forgets to take medication? Then perhaps daily pills are not the best option for you since you might forget to take a pill each day. You don’t want to take hormonal contraceptives? Look first into the non-hormonal options and see if any appeals to you. You just had 2 kids and you feel like you need time before awesome baby #3 arrives? Then perhaps a long acting method such as IUD or implant might be better. You recently had a scare with bae and you both know you don’t plan on having children anymore? Then maybe a more permanent method is suitable. You have painful periods and would like to lighten them? Then a method that lightens periods such as the Mirena IUD would be a good option for you.
At this point, you have done all of your homework and the next step is to check-in with a healthcare provider to go over your options and based on your medical history as well as present medical status, lifestyle, and future plans, select the best method. A few things the doctor might ask before prescribing the right contraceptive for you:
Other medication (s) taken at the moment
Are you a smoker?
Do you want to get pregnant in the near future?
Can you make contraception part of your daily routine?
Are you comfortable having a method inserted into your body?
Do you have cancer or have you ever had cancer?
Do you have painful periods?
In conclusion, there you go ladies! If you would like to start taking contraception, you can follow these three steps to ease the process and do it in an informed way.
When you’re ready find the right contraceptive method on Kasha:
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