Birth Control Options Everyone Should Know

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There are different reasons why people, especially women, opt for birth control. Some women don’t want to get pregnant because of health reasons. Finances, emotional maturity, family approval, and career concerns also influence decisions about pregnancy. A more compelling reason for using certain birth control methods is that these products also help in getting protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
While the most effective way to avoid both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is to refrain from sexual contact or practice total abstinence, a number of birth control options are readily available and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Deciding what method to choose largely depends on your needs. What’s good for one person may not be effective for another. Factors such as a person’s health, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, and the desire to have children in the future should all be taken into account.
In recent years, more types of birth control methods have hit the market. Aside from prevention of pregnancy, a new wave of pills, patches, and implants has given women more control over their reproductive cycles, including the unpleasant symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Aside from the different factors to consider in deciding which birth control method to choose, it is also important to know their benefits and advantages, as well as their possible health risks. The list below may help you sort through your options:
The Pill – It is considered to be 98-99% effective if taken as directed. Benefits include a more predictable cycle with monthly periods that are lighter, shorter, and less frequent. There is also a relief from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and acne.  The woman using the pill would also reduce her risk of ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, benign breast cysts or lumps, and ovarian and endometrial cancer. Side effects include unexpected bleeding and spotting, vomiting, and diarrhea. Certain sedatives and antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of pills. Generally not prescribed for women who smoke, are over age 35, and have family (or personal) history of certain health problems. These include: blood clots; breast, uterine, or liver cancers; serious heart problems (like heart attack); and stroke.
Patch – It is considered to be 99% effective if used correctly. This is a once-a-week contraception for women who can’t or don’t want to take daily pills. Benefits include reduced risk of ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, benign breast cysts or lumps, and ovarian and endometrial cancer. Compared to pills, however, the patch may expose the user to a slightly higher dose of estrogen and risk of blood clots. Generally not prescribed for women who smoke, are over age 35, and have family (or personal) history of blood clots; breast, uterine, or liver cancers; serious heart problems (like heart attack); and stroke.
Vaginal Ring – This method is 99% effective if used correctly. It’s a once-a-month form of contraception for women who don’t want to take daily pills. Benefits include a steady release of hormones, so there are fewer hormonal ups and downs. It reduces risk of ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, benign breast cysts or lumps, and ovarian and endometrial cancer. However, in rare cases, the ring can slip out of the vagina during intercourse. Generally not prescribed for women who smoke, are over age 35, and have family (or personal) history of blood clots; breast, uterine, or liver cancers; serious heart problems (like heart attack); and stroke.
IUD (Intrauterine Device) – This device is considered to be 99.9% effective. It can prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years and does not contain estrogen. Periods get lighter. Periods get lighter over time. About 20% of women have no period after one year. It may shorten, lighten, or even eliminate periods. It does not cause weight gain. However, it may cause irregular bleeding or spotting for the first few months.
Implant – The implant is believed to be more than 99% effective. It can be used up to three years, but can be removed at any time. It does not contain estrogen. However, it may cause irregular and unpredictable monthly periods and spotting may occur.
Permanent Birth Control – As a permanent birth control method, it is considered to be 99.8% effective based on four years of follow-up. Zero pregnancies occurred in clinical trials. No hormones are used and monthly periods should more or less continue in their natural state. It has nonsurgical sterilization with no incisions involved. Works for both overweight and very thin women. However, this procedure is NOT reversible. Surgical removal of micro-inserts could result in complications. Since no birth control procedure is 100% absolutely effective, there is always a risk of pregnancy.

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