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Which Birth Control is Right for You?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Sonoma chapter.

There are many different types of birth control out there. Here is a little information about a few to help you choose which one is right for you!

Birth Control Implant- Implanon or Nexplanon

 “The Implant” is a thin, flexible, matchstick sized plastic rod, which is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It prevents pregnancy by releasing the hormone progestin, which keeps eggs from leaving the ovaries (aka ovulating; pregnancy is impossible if there is no egg to join with the sperm), and by thickening your cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from getting to any potential eggs. The implant is very effective at preventing pregnancy; less than 1 in 100 women a year will become pregnant with the implant. It’s effective for up to three years, which is nice, but can cost up to $800 up front. This includes the cost of the exam, the implant itself, and insertion. And removal is another $300. In addition, the implant does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, so keep buying those condoms! But on the plus side, it’s helpful for women who cannot use birth control methods that include estrogen, it can be used while breastfeeding, you don’t have to remember to take medicine every day, and there’s no prep-work to do before sex.

Birth Control Patch

“The Patch”: a thin, plastic patch that sticks to the skin to prevent pregnancy. It utilizes the hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus. A new patch is used once a week for three weeks in a row, followed by a patch-free week for your period. To be most effective, the patch should be changed exactly a week apart. For instance, if you started the patch on a Tuesday, change it every Tuesday after that. This can be a bit difficult to keep track of, but is slightly more convenient than having to take medicine every day. If the patch is always used correctly, less than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant each year, and 9 our of 100 will become pregnant each year if they do not always use the patch as directed. A one-month supply can cost up to $80. Some downsides of the patch: it’s less effective for women who are overweight, which is something your doctor should be able to tell you. It also does not protect against STIs.

Birth Control Pills

“The Pill”: oral contraceptive pills that are taken daily to prevent pregnancy through the hormones estrogen and/or progestin. Pills that use both hormones are called combination pills, but some are progestin-only, for women who cannot take estrogen.  These hormones prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus. They can cost up to $50 each month. The pill does not protect against STIs, and it can be difficult to take the pill at the same time every day (phone timers are an easy way to keep track!) However, it’s a cheaper alternative than some other birth control options, easy to use, and very effective if used correctly. Other benefits include protection against acne, bone thinning, non-cancerous breast growths, ectopic pregnancy, endometrial and ovarian cancers, infections in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, anemia caused by iron deficiency, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, premenstrual symptoms, bad cramps, and heavy/irregular periods. Combination pills can also be used to control when and how often you have your period. Combo pills and progestin-only pills reduce period cramps, make periods lighter, and can protect against pelvic inflammatory disease. Negative side effects can include spotting between periods, breast tenderness, nausea, and vomiting. It’s important to remember that there are many kinds of pills available, so if one kind disagrees with you in some way, talk to your doctor and try others until you find a pill that works best for you.

Birth Control Shot- Depro-Vera

“The Shot” is an injection of the hormone progestin into the body through the arm. It’s a one of the most effective methods of birth control available, and very convenient, if you don’t mind needles. It works best when you get the shot every 12 weeks, because each shot protects you from pregnancy for 12 weeks. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the birth control shot as directed, and about 6 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if the shot is not used as directed. It’s a very convenient method and provides long-term protection against pregnancy, and requires no prep work before sex (besides using a condom! The shot doesn’t protect against STIs). It can also help prevent cancer of the lining of the uterus! Most women experience fewer and lighter periods and some stop having periods completely after one year.

Birth Control Sponge- The Today Sponge

“The Sponge” is a soft, round, plastic foam disc about two inches in diameter with a nylon loop attached to the bottom for removal, and contains spermicide. It prevents pregnancy by 1) covering the cervix and blocking sperm from entering the uterus, and 2) continuously releases a spermicide that immobilizes the sperm. It’s fairly effective, with 9 out of 100 women becoming pregnant who use the sponge always as directed, and 12 out of 100 becoming pregnant who don’t always use it as directed. Your partner can increase the effectiveness of the sponge by using a latex condom, which is also important for protecting against STIs, and by pulling out prior to ejaculation. The sponge may not be right for women who are allergic to plastic or spermicide, have difficulty inserting the sponge, have had a recent abortion, childbirth, or miscarriage, a history of toxic shock syndrome, or a reproductive tract infection, or while you’re having your period. The sponge is beneficial because it’s available at drugstores without a prescription for up to $15, can be carried conveniently, cannot be felt by you or your partner, does not effect your hormones, can be used breastfeeding, and does not interrupt sex and requires no prep work immediately prior to pregnancy. The sponge can be inserted hours ahead of time and can be worn for 30 hours max.

Vaginal Ring- NuvaRing

“The Ring” is a small, flexible ring inserted into the vagina once a month to prevent pregnancy. It is effective for three weeks, and taken out for the fourth week. It prevents pregnancy by releasing estrogen and progestin. It’s very effective, with less than 1 in 100 women getting pregnant each year if the ring is always used as directed, and 9 in 100 getting pregnant if the ring is not used as directed. It offers the same benefits as the pill, and is slightly more convenient because it’s effective for three weeks after insertion with nothing else to worry about before sex. It can also be used continuously, without the weeklong break, to eliminate periods. It does not, however, protect against STIs. They require a prescription, and can cost a out $80 a month.

And don’t ladies, you aren’t the only one who should be using a form of birth control! Remember to also always use a condom!

I'm Suzie, and I'm a senior at Sonoma State University! I'm a Peer Mentor, a member of SSU's Equestrian team, cat lover, tea drinker, avid book reader. I'm an anthropology major pursuing a career in higher education and student affairs as an advocate for student programs with a focus on diversity, mental health, and sexual assault awareness. I'm excited to gain experience learning about and raising awareness of current campus issues through writing for HerCampus!
Carly is one of the CCs for Sonoma State University, and she is majoring in communications and minoring in sociology. She grew up in southern California, and even though she misses the warm beach, she really enjoys living in wine country in northern CA. She has always had a passion for writing and is so grateful that Her Campus allows her to share that love and encourage others to join in the fun.