There are many different birth control methods available out there, each with their own benefits and risks. Being properly informed of the facts and knowing your options can help you to find the best birth control method to suit your needs.
Birth control methods can be broadly categorised into the following:
Barrier: This method prevents semen from entering into the cervix. Examples are male condoms, female condoms and contraceptive diaphragms.
Hormonal: Hormonal methods involve stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperms to reach the egg. Hormones can be administered through a variety of ways, including pills, patches, injections or implants.
Others: Other methods include withdrawal before ejaculation, avoiding sex during the most fertile days and non-hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD).
There are many urban myths about pregnancy prevention methods, one of the most popular being that having sex in the shower or pool can prevent pregnancy. This is not true. You can get pregnant through sex in the shower, in the pool, or any body of water for that matter.
Misconceptions of Hormonal Birth Control
Despite a 91-99% effectiveness of pregnancy prevention, far higher than that of barrier methods, there are many misconceptions surrounding hormonal methods.
Weight Gain and Pill Use
Weight gain is rare, and if any, is often temporary due to water retention rather than fat gain. This might have perpetuated when birth control pills sold in the early 1960s had very high levels of estrogen and progestin that stimulate appetite. Current birth control pills have much lower amounts of hormones and weight gain is not likely a side effect. If you are still concerned about the levels of hormones in the birth control pill, speak to your doctor for alternative birth control pills with lower doses of hormones.
Fertility and Long-term Pill Use
Fertility returns almost immediately after stopping the pill, which is why it is important not to miss a day on the pill. This misconception could have arisen when couples have decided to stop the pill to get pregnant during their late 30s, only to discover that it is not easy to do so as their natural fertility begins to drop.
Pills are only for contraception
Modern pills may provide other health benefits in addition to preventing pregnancy.
Regulate Hormonal Levels
If you have an irregular menstrual cycle or heavy bleeding, hormonal birth control pills may help balance the hormonal fluctuations and make periods lighter and more consistent. Acne can be caused by hormonal fluctuations too. Birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone can prevent sudden drops and rises in hormones, controlling flushes of acne.
Lowers Risk of Medical Conditions & Certain Cancers
Hormonal birth control pills are shown to reduce the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer over the long term. Taking the pill for 4 years may cut uterine cancer risk by half and this protection can last for 10 years after going off the pill.
Another benefit is the prevention of ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts may form in the ovaries during ovulation. While they are usually not dangerous, they can cause pain. When the birth control pill prevents ovulation, cysts are prevented from forming and may also stop former cysts from recurring.
Alleviates Menstrual Related Pain
Painful period cramps are caused by contractions in your uterus during ovulation. When the pill prevents ovulation, the uterus does not have to go through the painful cramps. Another common pain that women experience is the menstrual migraine when their estrogen and progesterone levels drop just before the start of their period. As oral contraceptive skips the period, the drop can be avoided altogether and be spared of the headache.
Speak to your doctor to find the most suitable contraceptive pill option for you.