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Which Birth Control is Right For You?

1. The Pill

The birth control pill is the most prevalent form of birth control. There are many different brands and types, so it is very important to know exactly what you need from the pill. Trying many different types is in your best interest. It’s safe and effective (91%) and extremely affordable. Besides preventing pregnancy, which it does by stopping ovulation, it also has a few other benefits including hormone control which can help to maintain your skin and as well as balance your emotions. A large downside of the pill is you need to remember to take it every day, most girls set reminders on their phone to take it. For the best results, the pill must be taken every day with no skips. When taken perfectly, the pill can be up to 99% effective. Taking the pill also raises your risk for major health problems, including blood clots, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Aches, pains, and weight gain are also commonly associated with the pill. It also does not protect against STDs.

Bryant University Student, age 20: “I personally could not stand the pill. I took a 28-day pack, after taking it for a few years and working tirelessly to lose weight, I realized the hormones in my pill were preventing me from doing so. I was retaining a lot of water and could simply not shed the pounds no matter how hard I tried. However, it did do its job by preventing pregnancy, keeping my skin mostly clear, and keeping my PMDD at bay around my time of the month.”

Bryant University Student, age 18: “I take Minastrin, which is a 28-day pack with 4 sugar pills. I only get my period for 4 days which I love. I find that is really improve the stability of my mood as well as my skin. I didn’t gain or lose weight as a result of the pill. It also has iron in it, which is great for me because like most women, I am iron deficient.”

2. The Implant (the Bar)

The birth control implant, or Nexplanon as it’s called, is a tiny rod comparable to the size of a match stick. This implant is inserted under the skin in your upper arm, and that’s it! You’re protected from pregnancy for up to four years. It works by releasing a hormone called progestin which thickens the mucus lining of your cervix, thus stopping any sperm from reaching your egg. The implant is 99% effective, and there is no chance of making a mistake. Since it is I your arm, you can’t use it incorrectly, it can’t get moved, and you won’t forget to take it like you may with a pill. After the first week of having it, you are protected for that four-year time period. It doesn’t protect against STDs.

Bryant University Student, age 20: “The only side effect I ever experienced was bruising on my arm during the first week. No weight gains or huge hormonal change from when I was on the pill. It never made my period more regular but I was always all over the place so it didn’t change anything. Super effective though, I don’t use any other form of contraception yet #nobabies. I also haven’t gotten my period in about 5 months.”

3. The Patch

The birth control patch is a transdermal device that is safe and simple. You can wear the patch on your belly, upper arm, butt, or back. A new patch needs to be applied every three weeks. It works by releasing the hormones estrogen and progestin, which are cohesive to what our bodies produce naturally. The patch stops your ovaries from ovulating, which means there’s no eggs to fertilize, thus eliminating pregnancy. It also thickens the mucus lining in the cervix. The key with the patch is not forgetting to change it! It doesn’t protect against STDs, and is about 91% effective. Some downsides include tender breasts, headaches, and nausea.

Bryant University Student, age 19: “I’ve heard many mixed reviews on the patch, seems to work for people about half the time. One of the issues I have experienced with the patch is a little bit of soreness where it is applied. My boobs have also shot up a size and are very sensitive. I haven’t had morning sickness or anxiety, so, so far so good. I have noticed a small increase in acne. I also have a reminder in my phone to reapply the patch as needed, which definitely helps because it needs to be replaced every three weeks.”

4. The Shot

Also known as Depo-Provera, it is an injection given by a nurse or doctor. The shot needs to be administered every three months. On top of being safe and convenient, it is also a very private birth control method that works well if you are timely about it. The shot works by preventing ovulation. If there’s no egg in the tube, pregnancy is prevented. Like most BCs, it also thickens the lining in your cervix. It also doesn’t protect against STD’s., and is about 94% effective. Some downsides of the shot include nausea, weight gain, headache, tender breasts, depression, slight bruising, and hair variation (loss and gain).

Bryant University Student, age 19: “The shot is really reliable and I personally haven’t had any side effects that it says can possibly happen- it basically does not allow you to ovulate so there is a very minimal chance that you get pregnant, it does hurt your arm for a few days afterwards but any shot would. A big positive (and negative) is that you stop getting your period or your period becomes extremely irregular. It’s nice to not get the period because your uterine lining thins and there is no excess that needs to come out- but it freaks me out that I don’t get my period so if do happen to get pregnant, I wouldn’t know.”

5. The Vaginal Ring

The birth control ring, or the NuvaRing, is another safe and affordable birth control method. It prevents pregnancy by releasing estrogen and progestin. It works by stopping ovulation so there’s no egg to fertilize, as well as a thickened mucus lining. It does not prevent STDs, so it is best when used with condoms. When used perfectly, it is 99% effective. In real life it is about 91% effective because most people will not use it perfectly. NuvaRing also isn’t for everyone, so consult with your doctor before use. Use of the ring is associated downsides that come with the pill, which is also a result of use of the hormones progestin and estrogen. To use, the ring gets inserted into the vagina, you should not be able to feel it when you are walking around. The ring is not reusable, so throw it out when you are done with it. Rings can be put in for 4 weeks (28 days) straight, you can decide whether or not you get your period by replacing the ring every 4 weeks or giving yourself 7 days off to get a period.

Bryant University Student, age 19: “I don’t know anyone who used it, but my gynecologist told me not to because there is a higher chance of it falling out if you don’t put it in properly, and most people don’t. It can also move around a lot also rendering it effective.”

6. The Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a shallow cup, it almost appears like a little saucer. It is made of soft silicone, to insert it is bent in half then inserted into the vagina, covering the cervix. It works by stopping the sperm from joining the egg, it is suggested to be used with spermicide. If used perfectly, the diaphragm can be 94% effective, but in real life it is 88% effective. They do not prevent STDs. To use, put a tablespoon of spermicide inside the cup of the diaphragm, then insert up to two hours before sex. You can leave it in place for about six hours after you have sex, but it should not be left for more than 24 hours. It is reusable, so you just need to take it out and wash it after each use. With this method there are no hormones, which is a huge benefit.

Bryant University Student, age 20: “The diaphragm was a great option because I did not want to use any form of birth control that would put hormones into my body. This way my mood and weight were not being affected at all, like they were on the pill. The only issue was trying to figure out when I would have sex so I could time when to use my diaphragm correctly. Otherwise, it was a great option to prevent pregnancy.”


7. The IUD (Intra-uterine device)

An IUD is a tiny, T-shaped device with strings that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is a long-term option, it is reversible, and it’s one of the most effective options. There are currently five different brands: ParaGard, Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. The ParaGard is the only copper option, which also makes it hormone-free. The remaining four are hormonal IUDs. The IUD’s work sby changing the way sperm cells move so they can’t get to an egg. The copper option works because sperm doesn’t like copper. The hormonal ones work similar to other BC methods by thickening cervical mucus and stopping ovulation. These IUD’s can last for up to 12 years, but they can be taken out at any time. The IUD’s are more than 99.9% effective, making it the best option. However, also like most BCs, they do not prevent STDs.

Bryant University Student, age 21: “I have the ParaGard and I’d say the worst part about the IUD is the pain of the insertion. The cramping I felt afterwards was comparable to my worst period, it was very consistent pain for about a day but also manageable. I also noticed increased skin issues, because I don’t have the hormone help from the pill anymore. But it was beneficial to not be on the on hormones, so I could be aware of my natural hormone cycle and get a better sense of my body. The periods are heavier on it for sure and they were irregular, like going for a couple months without having it. This is normal for about the first year though. Also, my boyfriend doesn’t notice it, which is another plus. I check my own strings, but you can get them checked from your healthcare provider as well, which I definitely recommend doing because there is a chance your body may expel the IUD leaving you at greater risk for pregnancy.”


8. Condoms

Condoms are thin, stretchy, and typically made of latex. They can also be made out of plastic or lambskin. Traditional ones are worn on the penis but there are female ones as well. They collect the semen during sex, so pregnancy is prevented by stopping the sperm from meeting the egg. They are the only form of BC that prevents STDs. Condoms are 98% effective when used perfectly and 85% in real life application.

Bryant University Student, age 21: “Pros, they save you from babies. Cons I don’t use them. But you need to stop what you’re doing to put a condom on, and there’s nothing sexy about putting a condom  on. It’s also culture, guys don’t think they have to use them. Also condoms make the d*ck taste rubbery.”

9. Abstinence

Not having sex is the only form of birth control that is 100% effective!!

These are the top nine birth control options we found the most feasible, but there are many more options to explore! To find out more go to: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control

Ana Deacon

Bryant '18

*Insert lyrics to "All Star" by Smash Mouth* Bryant University Class of 2019
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