On the different types of birth control

On sex ed

Many new types of birth control have recently hit the market. There’s lots of options and it can be difficult to understand what might work best for you. This will hopefully help clear up some of that.

Implant (Nexplanon): Nexplanon is a small, flexible rod that is inserted into the upper arm. It last for around 3 years, and can be removed at any time. The implant works by releasing low doses of etonogestrel, which is a synthetic version of the naturally produced hormone progesterone. It is up to 99% effective at prevent pregnancy with correct usage.

  • PROS:
    • No schedule- The implant just releases hormones as life goes on.
    • It lasts up to three years.
    • 99% effective!!!
    • No one can tell that you are using it.
  • CONS:
    • Implants (VERY VERY RARELY) can cause blood clots, which can lead to larger health issues.
    • The chance of an ectopic pregnancy increases slightly if you become pregnant while using Nexplanon.
    • Higher risk for ovarian cysts.
    • Unknown effect on breast cancer.
    • Implantation can sometimes be painful/complicated.
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Heavy bleeding during menstruation
    • Irregular periods
    • Spotting
    • Mood swings and depression
    • Acne
    • Weight gain
    • Headaches
    • Increased PMS symptoms

Intrauterine Device (IUD): The IUD is a small t-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus via the cervix. It is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. There are hormonal options (Marina or Skyla) and non hormonal options (Paragard). They can last anywhere from 3-10 years depending on what type you get.

  • Marina/Skyla: The Marina and Skyla work by releasing levonorgestrel into the system. The Skyla is slightly smaller, and therefore recommended for those who have not yet had children. These last for 3-5 years.
  • Paragard: The Paragard is made of copper. Copper is a substance that is toxic to sperm and therefore kills is before a pregnancy can occur. These can last up to 10 years.
  • PROS:
    • IUDs last for a very long time.
    • Low maintenance aside from occasional checks to make sure they are still in place.
    • The most effective form of birth control other than abstinence.
    • Again, no one can tell that you are using it.
    • Monthly self-checks to ensure the IUD is still in place.
    • Can treat heavy periods (Marina)
    • Emergency contraception (Paragard)
  • CONS:
    • Insertion and removal can be painful
    • Perforation of the uterine wall can very rarely occur.
    • Higher risk of pelvic infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.
    • The device can be expelled from the uterus, especially in smaller women
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Irregular periods
    • Heavy bleeding (Non-Hormone)
    • Painful cramps/back pain
    • Acne (Hormone)
    • Emotional (Hormone)
    • Spotting at time of insertion and between periods

The Pill: There many different variations on the pill. Different brands use different hormones. Most contain progesterone, estrogen, or a combination of the two. When used correctly, it can 89%-99% effective when used correctly. The pill can be taken for any amount of time.

  • PROS:
    • The pill is super reliable and a common form of birth control.
    • Most types allow for predictable periods.
    • Can decrease some PMS symptoms.
    • Can decrease the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and some cancers.
  • CONS:
    • Must be taken on a schedule.
    • Can increase some PMS symptoms
    • Increase some symptoms of depression
    • Spotting (progesterone only pills)
    • Hair growth
    • Weight gain
  • SIDE EFFECT:
    • Headaches
    • Weight gain
    • Nausea
    • Headaches
    • Mood changes

The Patch: The patch is a small plastic patch that sticks to the upper arm and releases a combination of progesterone and estrogen. It is worn for three weeks, followed by a patch free week. It can be 92-99% effective when used correctly.

  • PROS:
    • Reduced PMS symptoms
    • Reduced risk of some cancers
    • Reduced risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy
  • CONS:
    • Spotting between periods
    • Nausea
    • Easy to use incorrectly
    • One color that doesn’t fit all skin tones
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Nausea, stomach pain
    • Breast tenderness or swelling
    • Headache
    •  Anxiety and mood changes
    • Skin irritation, redness, itching, or swelling where the patch was worn
    • Menstrual cramps
    • Irregular  bleeding or spotting

NuvaRing: For the NuvaRing to work, you have to insert it into the vagina once a week for three weeks, then nothing for one week. It releases progesterone and estrogen. It is up to 98% effective when used correctly.

  • PROS:
    • You don’t have to pay attention to it daily
    • Reduces some PMS symptoms
    • Reduced chance of some cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy.
  • CONS:
    • Increased chance of blood clots
    • Easy to misuse
    • Can cause skin reactions for your partner
    • Increased chance of Toxic Shock Syndrome
    • Painful cramps
    • Increased feelings of depression
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Tissue irritation inside your vagina or on your cervix
    • Headache/Migranes
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Vaginal discharge
    • Weight gain
    • Vaginal discomfort
    • Breast pain, discomfort, or tenderness
    • Abdominal pain
    • Acne

The Shot (Depo-Provera): The shot is given once every 12-14 weeks. It contains progesterone. It can be up to 99% effective when used correctly and on time.

  • PROS:
    • Low maintenance
    • Invisible- no one can see that your using it.
    • Reduced chance of ectopic pregnancy and some cancers
    • Lighter periods, in some cases, women stop getting their period
  • CONS:
    • Spotting between periods
    • Schedule depends on a doctor
    • Increased PMS symptoms
    • Higher chance of depression
    • Higher chance of osteoporosis
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Irregular periods
    • Weight gain
    • Nausea
    • Stomach cramping/bloating
    • Dizziness/headache
    • Tiredness/irritability
    • Breast tenderness
    • Acne
    • Hair loss

Withdrawal: The male partner “pulls out” just prior to ejaculation. it is 73-95% effective.

  • PROS:
    • Hormone free
    • Free
  • CONS:
    • One person is in control
    • Requires you to be very in tune with your body
    • Very ineffective
    • Requires trust and self-control
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • None

Fertility Awareness: This is a way to predict when a woman is ovulating and/or fertile. It is 76-88% effective. There a multiple methods. They depend on ovulation, cervical mucus, body temperature, or a combination of the above.

  • PROS:
    • Hormone free
    • Free
    • Helps to create better communication
    • Makes you more in tune with your body
  • CONS:
    • Very ineffective
    • Commitment, no spontaneous sex
    • Requires you to be very in tune with your body
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • None

Diaphragm: The diaphragm is a dome-shaped piece of silicon inserted into the vagina to cover the the cervix. It must be used in combination with spermicide to be as effective as possible. It is anywhere from 71-94% effective when used correctly.

  • PROS:
    • Hormone free
    • Lasts up to two years
  • CONS:
    • Easy to misuse
    • Increased risk of UTIs
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Vaginal irritation for some women

Today Sponge: The sponge is similar to the Diaphragm in that it covers the cervix. Instead of a cup containing spermicide, it is a foam sponge. It is 84-89% effective when used correctly.

  • PROS:
    • Hormone free
    • Easy to use
    • No prescription required
  • CONS:
    • Easy to misuse
    • Can cause vaginal dryness/irritation
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Irritation
    • Uncomfortable sex

Condoms: Condoms come in male or female version. The male condom is placed over the penis just prior to sex. The female version is inserted into the vagina just prior to sex. When used correctly, both can prevent pregnancy up to 82%.

  • PROS:
    • Prevent STIs
    • Can increase pleasure
    • No prescription
    • Cheap and sometimes free!
  • CONS:
    • Easy to misuse
    • Can break
    • Not as effective as other types
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Be careful of latex allergies

Abstinence: Abstinence is the only 100% effective form of birth control. Abstinence is when a person does not have sex.

  • PROS:
    • No risk of pregnancy
    • No risk of STIs
    • No hormones
  • CON:
    • Requires self-control and communication
    • Peer pressure
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • None

Morning-After Pill: Morning after pills are a form of emergency contraceptive. It can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. The pills work by releasing high levels of hormones into your system.

  • PROS:
    • Fall back option
    • Very effective when taken in the time slots
  • CONS:
    • Not recommended for daily use
    • Expensive with out insurance
  • SIDE EFFECTS:
    • Irregular periods
    • Increased PMS symptoms.

Birth control is also broken into tiers by effectiveness.

This is not supposed to tell you what kind of birth control to use. Always always always do your research and talk to a doctor to find out what is the best option for you!

Every best wish,

Julia