Finding The Right Birth Control For You

Birth control is something almost every woman wounds up using, whether it’s for contraception, to regulate your periods, or to help your skin. Most of the time the pill is the go-to for people, however, it is not your only option.

 

Before choosing what birth control to go on, it is important to look into each one and their possible side effects to choose the one that suits you and your body the most.

 

The pill

According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), the combined oral contraception has an artificial version of oestrogen and progesterone which works by stopping you from producing an egg each month. In order to get pregnant, you must ovulate to produce an egg to be fertilized. 

 

You take one pill daily for 21 days, with a break of seven days (for your period). With this method, you can choose to skip your break, which skips your period if you have a trip or a party coming up. However, you can only do this up to three times in a row.

 

Progesterone only pills contain an artificial version of the female hormone oestrogen and are taken every day without a break. While this also stops you from producing an egg, it may thin the lining of your womb to prevent an egg from being able to implant. 

Normally women who don’t want to take oestrogen go for this pill, however, it can cause irregular periods in some. Both forms of the pill are 99% effective when taken correctly and 91% effective when taken incorrectly.

 

Like all oral contraception, this does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you vomit or have diarrhoea it can stop the pill from working properly, so if you have a bit of a dodgy stomach or enjoy having one too many drinks maybe steer clear of this one!

 

The patch

The patch is similar to a thin plaster that contains artificial versions of oestrogen and progesterone. This is changed once a week for three weeks, followed by a one-week break. This has similar side effects to the pill such as bloating, weight gain, and mood changes, however, it can be easier to remember and isn’t affected by you getting sick. 

 

According to the HSE, the patch is also 99% effective when used correctly and 91% effective when used wrong. Although it is more expensive than the pill, it could be worth giving a go if you find yourself missing your pill on some days.

 

Injectable

For this you get an injection of progesterone every 12 weeks, stopping ovulation. This is 99% effective when you use it correctly and 94% effective if taken incorrectly. Just like the patch, this is ideal if you don’t remember to take your pill daily.

 

You will have to remember to schedule doctor’s appointments every 12 weeks as it must be given by a General Practitioner (GP) or a nurse. Often the injection will cause irregular bleeding to start with but eventually lead to light or no bleeding at all in most cases, according to the HSE. 

 

The injection cannot be used long term as it can damage your bone marrow, especially if you are already at risk of osteoporosis.

 

The implant

Also known as the bar, this is a small flexible rod that releases artificial progesterone into your bloodstream. This is inserted under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor and stays there for three years. 

 

The bar works by stopping you from producing an egg, but also thicken the fluid at the neck of the womb while simultaneously thinning the line of the womb – making it next to impossible for any little swimmers to make their way up there, with 99% effectiveness.

 

This is a great long-term solution for birth control with very minimal side effects. It can take three to six months for your body to get used to the bar and some women do experience irregular bleeding, however, this happens to a small number of women. 

 

Copper coil

The coil is also great for a long-term solution as it can stay in place for five to ten years and is more than 99% effective. This is a small device that is inserted into your womb by a specially trained doctor. The HSE explains that copper is toxic to both sperm and your eggs.

 

The coil works by damaging the sperm and egg to prevent fertilisation and causes your womb lining to mildly inflame, stopping the egg from implanting. This works as soon as it's inserted. The copper coil may cause heavier periods in some women, so if you already suffer from heavy periods this may not be for you.

 

Intrauterine system (IUS)

The IUS is also inserted in the womb, this is plastic rather than copper and releases artificial progesterone. This can stop sperm from meeting an egg by delaying when the egg reaches your womb or preventing the egg from implanting, making this over 99% effective.

 

If you liked the sound of the coil but thought ‘oh no, heavy periods would be the worst thing ever!’, the IUS stays in place for three to five years and may only cause bleeding for the first few months, eventually giving you light bleeding or none at all.

 

Vaginal ring

This ring contains artificial oestrogen and progesterone, working the same as the combined oral contraceptive pill and is also 99% effective.

 

You insert the ring into your vagina once a month and it stays there for 3 weeks. Despite its positioning, the vaginal ring doesn’t interrupt sex and can be kept in during it or you can take it out for a short while – whichever you’re more comfortable with.

 

Each woman’s body is different, so it is a completely personal choice as to what birth control you decide to take. Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor and have a chat with them about it as they’ll be able to tell you which one they think will best suit your needs!