Get to Know Your Contraceptives!

By Charisma P

It turns out that there are many kinds of contraception available in the market, they can be divided based on categories, namely according to the length of use (long term & short term) and their method (hormonal & non-hormonal). What does this mean? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each method!

IUD (Intrauterine Device) 

iud contraceptive device women reproductive health

An IUD is a T-shaped plastic contraceptive device that is placed in the uterus. Usually this contraceptive must be inserted by a doctor. There are 2 types of IUDs, namely copper and hormonal. Copper IUDs can last up to 10 years and hormonal IUDs containing hormones must be replaced every 5 years.

Pros:

  • Can be used by breastfeeding mothers
  • Does not interfere with fertility, once removed fertility returns to normal

Cons:

  • IUD position can shift
  • Heavy bleed during menstruation
  • IUD insertion can be an uncomfortable and painful process
  • Must be inserted by a doctor

IUDs have an effectiveness of more than 99%. Less than 1 of 100 women with an IUD will get pregnant!

Birth Control Pills 

These daily pills contain hormones to change the way the body works by creating an artificial pregnancy (your body thinks you’re pregnant when you’re really not). Birth control pills contain a form of the hormone estrogen or progesterone such as Ethinylestradiol 0.03 mg, Levonorgestrel 0.15 mg or a combination of both. You have to take them everyday at the same time for them to work effectively. So set a daily alarm!

Pros:

  • Can be used for a long time
  • May reduce PMS symptoms
  • May reduce acne

Cons:

  • Possible weight gain
  • Remember to eat the pill every day at the same time for it to work!
  • Drastic changes in mood

Birth control pills are taken on the first day of menstruation, follow the instructions and arrows on the back of the package. Birth control pills have a 99% effectiveness rate if taken regularly and correctly. 

Condoms 

Condoms can be easily purchased and are affordable. They create a physical barrier to prevent pregnancy. It works by blocking sperm from entering the vagina and reaching the egg. Proper use of condoms can also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STDs and STIs).

Pros:

  • Practical and easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Does not contain hormones
  • Prevents the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases

Cons:

  • Can affect the comfort of having sex
  • Cannot be used by people who are allergic to latex

Check the back of the condom wrapper for exact effectiveness rates. On average, condoms are about 98% effective!

Birth Control Shot

One way that is used to prevent pregnancy is an injection of the hormone progesterone in the buttocks or arm once every 12 weeks. Additionally, there are other types of injectable birth control that contain estrogen and progesterone and are injected monthly.

Pros:

  • Does not interfere with breastfeeding
  • Only injected once a month at most (don’t have to remember to take it daily)

Cons:

  • Drastic changes in mood
  • Potential breast pain
  • Spotting and mild vaginal bleeding
  • Must be administered by a doctor

Injectable birth control is considered up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. To keep injectable contraception safe and effective, consult a gynecologist or reproductive specialist! 

Birth Control Implant

birth control implant medical device

The birth control implant (the bar) is a long-lasting birth control device taking the form of a small plastic tube about the size of a matchstick containing hormones to prevent pregnancy. It is inserted or implanted into the upper arm which will release low levels of the hormone progestin over time. It is effective for about three years before requiring replacement.

Pros:

  • Long-lasting
  • Does not require daily reminders

Cons:

  • Menstruation and bleeding pattern may become irregular
  • Scars appear on the skin due to implants
  • Must be inserted by a doctor

Birth control implants when installed correctly will reach up to 99% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and can last up to 3-5 years.

Fertility Awareness (Tracking your Ovulatory Phase)

fertility awareness calendar ovulatory

Fertility awareness involves keeping close track of your period and ovulatory phase using a calendar or mobile app. This method is simple: refrain from having sex when you’re most fertile (or using another method of birth control on those days). 

Pros:

  • Affordable - practically free
  • Does not use any special tools or medical expertise

Cons:

  • Not very effective

This method has a failure rate of up to 20 percent. Sperm can live for up to four days in the female body! Fertility awareness should not be your primary and only form of birth control.

Vaginal Rings

vaginal ring

Vaginal rings are a highly effective contraceptive method. It works by releasing the hormones progestin and estrogen that keep the egg from leaving the ovary. The ring is inserted in the vagina and is effective for 3 weeks. By the fourth week, the ring needs to be replaced.

Pros:

  • Can help with acne, menstrual cramps, abnormal menstruation
  • Highly effective method (up to 99%)
  • Initial doctor consultation, at-home insertion after that

Cons:

  • Not to be used if you are pregnant, susceptible to migraines, a smoker, over the age of 35 years old, or diagnosed with breast and liver cancer
  • Vaginal ring insertion may feel uncomfortable at first
  • Potential side effects: increased vaginal discharge, possible spotting, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes

Emergency Birth Control Pill (Plan B)

emergency birth control pill plan b hormones

Just as the name suggests, the emergency contraceptive pill (Plan B or the morning-after pill) is a method of contraception that can be used in certain situations that are considered an emergency within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Other emergency situations include forgetting to wear a condom, condom tearing during sex, or being a victim of rape. It should not be used as a primary form of birth control.

How the emergency contraceptive pill works depends on the menstrual cycle you are going through. This pill can prevent pregnancy by preventing or delaying ovulation (release of an egg), interfering with the fertilization of an egg by sperm, and preventing the implantation of a successfully fertilized egg in the uterine wall. The sooner you take it, the better it works.

Pros:

  • If taken between 12-24 hours of having unprotected sex, it is effective (~95%) in preventing pregnancy
  • Works retroactively

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • May be inaccessible over-the-counter in Indonesia (needs doctor’s prescription)
  • Temporary side effects: headache, stomach ache, unwell, menstrual cycle changes
  • Not as effective (~61%) if taken between 48-72 hours of having unprotected sex
There are various types of birth control available on the market. Discuss your options with your partner and consult a doctor to find the best contraception option for you. Remember that safe sex is key!

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