Birth Control

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Understanding that there are risks to sexual activity many couples decide to look into birth control.  We've put together a brief summary of the various means available for birth control.  The best choice someone makes it to abstain until they are in a committed monogamous relationship - just like marriage!

Birth control is meant to do that and it is not usually 100% effective.  The majority of methods for birth control do not eliminate the risk of STI transmission.  They may reduce the risk for it but the only guarantee is abstinence.

 

 

 

Abstinence

This method requires the couple not getting involved in sexual intercourse.  This includes any genital touching, oral sex, anal sex or any other intimate contact.

How does it work?
This method is guaranteed 100% effective. There are no medical or hormonal side effects.  Complete protection from STI’s and no financial cost to the couple comes with this method.

Side Effects:
There are no side effects with an abstinent couple.

No Method

No protection or method is applied and the couple engages in various forms of sexual contact. A couple gambles on a pregnancy or STI not occurring. It is 15% effective.

How does it work?
It’s free and convenient with no medical or hormonal side effects.

Side Effects:
No protection from STI’s and high pregnancy rates.

Withdrawal

Penis is removed from vagina before ejaculation occurs to prevent sperm from meeting the egg. It is 76% effective.

How does it work?
If the sperm are not in contact with the egg there is no chance of conception. However, men are not always aware of when they are releasing or that their pre-ejaculation contains sperm as well. So, if they release before they expect, there is a chance of pregnancy. This method is free with no medical or hormonal side effects.

Side Effects:
No protection from STI’s and requires trust and commitment to a partner.

Condom

A condom is 79-86% effective in preventing pregnancy.

How does it work?
A condom is a thin sheath made of latex, plastic or animal tissue which covers the penis before and during intercourse.

Side Effects:
There is likelihood of failure due to leaking, falling off or breaking.  Does not protect against STI’s. Men typically do not like wearing them.

Diaphragm or Cervical Cap

This method is 82% effective in preventing pregnancy.

How does it work?
A soft rubber barrier fits over the cervix. This method is used with spermicide and blocks the entrance of the uterus so the egg and sperm do not meet.

Side Effects:
STI’s still may occur with this method. The risk of bladder infections is increased. A physician must do the fitting. Sex may accidently dislodge the cap. Spontaneity is disrupted with this method and latex allergies can cause painful reactions.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

This method is 99% effective.

How does it work?
The IUD is a device with two arms and a string.  It is directly inserted (by medical professional) into the woman and is about the size of a quarter. There are three different types; one is copper and the other two are hormonal.

Side Effects:
Cramping occurs for 1-2 months after insertion.  There is no protection from STI’s with this method. Periods are heavier for the first couple months. Most side effects go away after the first couple months.

LINK (http://reproductiveaccess.org/fact_sheets/downloads/IUD_Facts.pdf)

Oral Contraceptives (The Pill)

The pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

How does it work?
This is a combination pill that is taken orally at the same time daily. There is an option of 21 day packs or 28 day packs. The artificial hormones deliver a combination of estrogen and progestin. This keeps the egg from releasing and can thicken the mucus in the cervix to inhibit sperm transportation, and possibly thicken the lining of the uterus to block implantation of the fetus.

Side Effects:
The pill regulates periods and is convenient, reversible, may protect from ovarian cancer and lessens cramping. The pill does not protect from STI’s and weakens the immune system allowing susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections. May include nausea, vomiting, spotting, breast tenderness, migraines, stroke, blood clots, mood swings, breast cancer or weight gain.

Injection

There are two different injection options.  The first is Long-term injections or Depo-Provera.  The second is Monthly injections and there are several brands to choose from.

How does it work?

Long-term injections have a hormone injected into the arm or buttocks every 12 weeks. This prevents the ovary from releasing the egg and causes changes in the uterus to prevent implantation. It has been proven 99% effective. This method protects against pregnancy for 12 weeks.

Monthly injections have a progestin component which prevents the ovary from releasing an egg. This method is also 99% effective.

Side Effects:

Long-term injections do not protect from STI’s. Excessive bleeding or irregular periods may occur as well as hair loss, weight gain, mood swings and headaches. There is also risk of ectopic pregnancy, permanent sterility, breast cancer, stroke or blood clots and it also decreases calcium in the bones.

Monthly injections do not protect from STI’s. Women with a history of breast or uterine cancer, blood clots, heart disease, liver dysfunction, diabetes or migraine headaches may not be good candidates. Weight gain, nausea, breast tenderness, fluid retention, mood changes, irritability or depression may occur. A health exam must be given prior to any dosage being given. Injections must occur every 28 days or effectiveness will dissolve after 33 days.

Plan B - The Morning After Pill

This pill is often referred to as “emergency contraception.” It is intended to be taken as soon as possible within the first 72 hours after sex to prevent pregnancy. It contains a high dosage of progesterone (levonorgestrel), which is found in many birth control pills. At the dosage found in the pill, the drug may work to prevent an embryo from implanting in the uterus.

How does it work?
Depending on your cycle, the pill can affect you in one of three ways:

  1. It may prevent ovulation: The egg will not be released to meet the sperm- so fertilization (conception) can’t occur.
  2. It may affect the lining of your fallopian tubes so the sperm cannot reach the egg. This also prevents fertilization.
  3. It may irritate the lining of your uterus. If an egg has already been released and fertilized by the sperm the irritation could make it harder for the embryo to implant in your uterus.

Side Effects:
These are some of the side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irregular and unpredictable menstrual cycles
  • Cramping and abdominal pain—which may also be a sign of ectopic pregnancy
  • Fatigue
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Could cause an abortion if the egg has already been fertilized.

If you have severe abdominal pain 3-5 weeks after using the pill, see your health care provider to rule out the chance of an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo grows inside the fallopian tube).

We HIGHLY suggest a gynecologist recommendation before any method of birth control is begun. Involve your parents to help make informed and healthy decisions.

For further questions, feel free to contact us or visit http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception.html?tracking=T_RelatedArticle for more in-depth information.