What Birth Control Method Is Right for You?

Navigating sexual encounters on a college campus is hard enough, not to mention all of the worrying about how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. But how much do you actually know about your birth control options? In order to help you save some time (and hopefully lots of stress), here are some brief descriptions of the types of contraceptives most used at Brown.

Condoms

While condoms are usually only about 90% effective, they also protect against sexually transmitted diseases, making them a must with any new partners. Condoms are so accessible at Brown that you’ll always be able to locate them—not only are they probably all over your RPL’s door, but they’re completely free at Health Services!

Oral contraceptives

Ah, the classic birth control pill. The pill usually contains a combination  of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and it’s is up to 99% effective if used correctly. For most women, the benefits outweigh the annoyances: you get to regulate your own period, reduction in menstrual flow and cramping, improvement of your acne, and little to no weight gain. But remembering to take it at the same time every day can become a real hassle, and if you find yourself forgetting it more than twice a month you may want to switch to a more long-term form of contraception.

IUDs

Intrauterine devices are small, “T” -like contraptions that are inserted into the uterus and last from three to ten (yes, ten!!!) years. IUDs are 99.9% effective, making them the safest type of birth control (excluding abstinence).. Both copper and progesterone IUDs are easy to insert and quickly reversible, but the best part is that your period will become far less frequent initially, and will most likely even stop altogether after only a year.

Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera is a birth control shot that lasts for 11 months. While it can’t act as an emergency contraception like some IUDs can, it is still extremely effective and can be used even if you’re on a long-term antibiotic or Accutane. However, Depo-Provera cannot be used for more than a few years, since it has been shown to cause bone deterioration over time.

The Implant

The implant is a little rod filled with the hormone progesterone that is inserted into the upper arm and lasts for up to three years. The implant is over 99% effective and involves virtually no hassle—it has virtually no risk of moving in place and you’ll barely be able to feel that it’s there! The implant mostly causes behavioral side effects like mood swings, and it is also not the best option for women who smoke frequently.

There are hundreds of other birth control options, and since the Brown Health Insurance actually covers the full cost of long term acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) including IUDs, Depo-Provera, and implants, it’s definitely worth making an appointment with Health Services to figure out what’s right for you!

Information provided by [email protected].

Izzie Henderson is a first-year student at Brown University studying Health and Human Biology. Her interests include women's health, photography, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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