There are several different types of birth control on the market now leaving women with many questions as to their effectiveness, side effects and long term consequences. Unfortunately there is no perfect option that is free of side effects, that is unless, of course, abstinence is counted. However many opt not to make this choice.
Therefore it is important to combine your current health with your goals (true pregnancy prevention or other women’s health issues as well) and talk with your health care provider. Here are some things to consider when looking at the two most common forms that might work for you.
First and most common is the birth control pill, also known as the oral contraceptive pill. This pill is taken daily for three weeks then stopped for seven days to allow for a menstrual period. Or it may be continued in some cases for three months straight. In rare cases pills may be taken continuously without a bleed.
The pill is typically a combination of a synthetic estrogen and progestin that works to suppress ovulation. A woman cannot become pregnant if there is no egg release.
There are various forms of the pill and amounts of estrogen and progestin within them.
Typical side effects can include: change in menstrual cycle, mood changes, increased vaginal discharge, decreased libido, skin changes, weight changes, increased risk for gall stones, and increased risk for blood clots.
Women who smoke, have migraines with aura, have diabetes, or have a personal history of cardiovascular disease should not use the pill. When used correctly (i.e., taken at the same time every day) the effectiveness against pregnancy is 92-98 percent.
The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, HPV or trichomoniasis.
Next most common is the IUD, or intrauterine device. This is a small T-shaped device that is inserted up into the uterus during an office procedure (only local anesthesia required).
There are two types of IUDs. First is the ParaGard, also known as the copper T. It does not have any hormone in it.