Sexual health is an issue that most of us need to be aware of, but are you clued up on contraception? Do you know exactly what you’re taking, or what alternatives are out there? Are you taking risks without even realizing? If you’re unsure about contraception, this guide will help you to figure out the facts.
Contraception: what are my options?
There are numerous options when it comes to types of birth control. In the last decade or so, the range of treatments has increased significantly. If you’ve been using the same form of contraceptive for a long time, it may be worth asking your doctor about other options.
The pill is one of the most commonly used forms of contraceptive. There are various types of pill available, including progesterone-only pills and mixed pills. Combination pills also contain estrogen. When you’re on the pill, you take a tablet each day for 21 days, and this is followed by a seven-day gap. During this time, you will have you period. Contraceptive pills work by preventing ovulation, which makes fertilization impossible. The pill is generally considered to be a very safe and effective option. However, it may not be suitable for everyone. If you have family history of clotting disorders or breast cancer, or you smoke, you may be advised to consider alternatives.
The contraceptive implant is a thin tube, which is implanted underneath the skin in the arm. It is around 4cm long, and it offers protection for three years. Implants work by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg. They may be a good option if you are sure that you don’t want to have a baby in the next few years. It may also be suitable for women who can’t use other types of contraceptive, such as the combined pill.
The contraceptive injection is a short-term treatment. It works by blocking the movement of sperm to prevent it from reaching the egg. There are different types of injection available, and they last for varied periods. Typically, you will be protected for between 8 and 13 weeks.
Condoms have been used for decades, and they remain a very popular choice. Condoms protect against unwanted pregnancy, but they also help to prevent sexually transmitted infections. The condom forms a physical barrier, and it is the only form of contraception (apart from the femidom), that protects against STIs. If you are sleeping with a new partner, it’s always advisable to use a condom. If you want to rely on another method, such as the pill, book a sexual health test. It’s always best to check if you have an STI before you stop using condoms. In many cases, STIs don’t cause obvious symptoms, so you may have an infection without realizing.
Where can I get contraception?
Most people go to their doctor to get contraception. You can also buy the contraceptive pill online. If you order online, you may have to pay for treatment. If you visit a clinic, it may be provided free of charge depending on where you go for treatment. If you go to your doctor, you can also discuss other options with them. They can talk you through the pros and cons of each treatment, and give you tailored advice. Some treatments may be more suited to some people than others. The contraceptive you choose may be based on your health, your family history and your future plans. If you want to conceive soon, for example, the implant is probably not the best choice. Sexual health clinics offer condoms free of charge. You can also usually find them in bars and clubs. In some countries, pharmacies have external vending machines, which provide condoms 24 hours a day.
When you’re using birth control, you may experience side-effects. Mild side-effects are normal, but you should seek advice if you have severe or persistent problems. Examples of side-effects may include weight gain, mood swings, and headaches. If you don’t get on well with one type of contraceptive, it’s often possible to switch to another, so don’t panic.
Many of us use contraception without really giving it a second thought. Your health should be a priority, and it’s always beneficial to know what you’re taking, and how it works. It’s also a good idea to be aware of your options. Just because you’ve been taking the pill for years, doesn’t mean you can’t change. If you’re unsure, or you need advice, see your doctor. They will be able to give you information about all the options and help you choose which treatment is best for you.