Know Your Options When It Comes to Birth Control

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While there are many strides left to be made in regards to a woman’s bodily autonomy, there fortunately are many more contraceptive options available today than at one time. No single option is better than others because every woman’s needs are different, but the first step to choosing the right solution is to know what the options are.

Emergency Contraception

The morning after pill is an emergency contraceptive that can be used as a step to prevent pregnancy in the event of an unprotected sexual encounter or a couple’s primary form of contraception failing, such as a condom breaking. Morning after pills are available over the counter without a prescription. 

This medication works by delivering a battery of hormones meant to delay ovulation and prevent fertilization that leads to pregnancy. It will not end an existing pregnancy. For this reason, this solution is only recommended within 72 hours of an unprotected encounter or contraceptive failure. The effectiveness of the morning after pill also varies wildly depending on a woman’s weight and other factors, so it should not be used as a primary form of contraception.

Cycle Planning

Understanding your menstrual cycle is an important step in preventing unwanted pregnancy. Cycle planning is a birth control method that relies on a woman knowing when she is ovulating and therefore when her fertile window is. During this time, a woman may choose to abstain from sexual intercourse or use additional contraceptive methods. For women whose religions forbid the use of contraception, cycle planning is often the only option considered acceptable for them to use.

Cycle planning requires diligent observation of a woman’s body and also relies on having a very regular menstrual cycle. For women with unpredictable cycles, cycle planning will not be effective.

The Pill

Many pharmaceutical companies manufacture some form of birth control pill. All of these pills work by administering different levels of hormones to a woman’s body to regulate her menstrual cycle. Almost every birth control pill must be taken daily at roughly the same time of day to stay effective.

Because birth control pills are all formulated differently, it may take some trial and error to find one that is compatible with a woman’s body. This process should be overseen by a medical professional. 

Birth control pills come with a number of known side effects, both mild and severe. Some may cause acne, bloating, or weight gain, while others can cause potentially life-threatening blood clots. Despite these risks, birth control pills remain one of the most popular contraceptive methods on the market.

Implants

There are a variety of implanted contraceptive products that are popular alternatives to birth control pills. These include intrauterine devices or a rod-shaped implant that is inserted into the arm. Implanted contraceptives work in different ways, some using metals that kill sperm while others deliver hormones to change the body’s processes.

With so many birth control options to choose from, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each. Healthcare professionals should always be part of these conversations, as they are equipped to help you make a choice to find the safest and most effective method for you.