Contraception: The Facts Laid Bare

I’m still waiting for the day that male contraception – aside from the condom – becomes a thing. Considering that women are fertile just six days per menstrual cycle and men are fertile every single day, females have been appointed to bear the responsibility of ensuring that sex doesn’t result in a baby. So, for anyone considering using long-term contraception, here’s what you need to know.

First things first…

Using contraception is entirely your own choice. Modern (and free) healthcare in the UK makes it reasonably easy to access the best contraception that suits your body and your needs. Whether you’re having trouble with your periods, in a long-term relationship, or just want to be worry free, it’s highly suggested that you talk to your GP about it first. If you’re in a relationship, I would also highly recommend talking to your partner about the types of contraception that you are considering, and if it’s what you both want. It’s important to remember that contraception isn’t for everyone, and the end of the article will address some of the horror stories that women have reported while using contraception.

The long list

Don’t be afraid if the first type of contraception that you use isn’t quite right because there’s a whopping 15 to choose from:

  • Caps
  • Combined pill
  • Condom (female)
  • Condom (male)
  • Contraceptive implant
  • Contraceptive injection
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Diaphragms
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine system (IUS)
  • Natural family planning (knowing when you’re ovulating)
  • Progestogen-only pill
  • Vaginal ring
  • Female sterilisation (permanent)
  • Male sterilisation (vasectomy; permanent)

 

What contraception will do for you

Contraception tries to stop pregnancy from occurring by keeping the egg and the sperm apart, or by stopping egg production, or by stopping a fertilised egg from attaching to the lining of the womb. Barrier methods such as condoms are a form of contraception that will help protect against STI’s as well as pregnancy. (The NHS recommends that condoms should be used even if you’re using other contraception methods to prevent pregnancy to protect your sexual health.)

The ‘possibles’ 

Every medication you take will come with a section in the booklet called ‘possible side effects’, and the same goes with every contraceptive method Everybody is different and will respond to each contraception method differently. Other stories vary from constant periods, to elevation of period pains, to decreasing levels of acne.

Be wary of the changes your body goes through before and after you take contraception. Getting to know your body better is so important in making it the healthiest it can be.

The pill and depression… and heavy period pains, and mood swings, and bigger boobs…

A 2016 study in Denmark, linked first diagnoses of depression to women on the combined pill with no prior history of depression. Although the 2016 study wasn’t able to prove that one causes the other, the conclusion of the study is still alarming. Even if contraceptives don’t affect hormones, other non-hormonal contraceptives such as the IUD have been said to cause heavy and painful periods. It appears to be a lose-lose situation.

GPs are less likely to prescribe the pill to women who already have depression, and if you experience depression while on the pill or any other hormonal-affective contraceptive, be sure to reconsider continually taking it. Nevertheless, contraceptives are powerful and demand a heavy duty among women – to bear the experience of severe biological and changes to the body.But then again, pregnancy is another life- and body-altering experience. As such, the options for women are: get hormonally messed up, or get pregnant.

With this bleak scale in mind, weigh up the pros and cons for yourself, talk to your GP and your partner (but by no means let them make the choice for you), and make sure you’re still treating your body to the healthcare it needs.

Edited By Isabelle Walker

Sources:

https://onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/blog/future-contraception/

https://www.populationmatters.org/documents/contraceptive_choices.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27680324

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/03/pill-linked-depression-doctors-hormonal-contraceptives

http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/side-effects-of-the-pill

http://www.greensborogynecology.com/services/contraception-management/

https://onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/blog/future-contraception/