Whether it’s because you’re not ready for kids yet or prefer to keep your family small, there are many reasons why a woman may be looking at birth control options in Singapore. Most importantly, it gives us control and freedom over our bodies, without fear of a pregnancy we may not want nor are prepared for.
Not sure which birth control works best for you? Here is a comprehensive guide to what you need to know about birth control options in Singapore.
Contraceptives in Singapore
There are several types of contraceptives:
Hormonal Birth Control works by releasing hormones into the body to prevent ovulation. They typically contain progestin and estrogen. Examples include:
- Birth Control Pills,
- Injections or Implants;
- Contraceptive Patches or Rings;
- Hormonal Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
Non-Hormonal Birth Control which rely on other methods to stop pregnancies. Examples include:
- Condoms which use the barrier method prevent the sperm from meeting an egg in the uterus.
- The copper IUD is an alternative to the hormonal IUD
- There are also sterilisation surgery, such as ligation for women and vasectomy for men, that permanently prevent pregnancy
We’ll break down what each mean in this comprehensive guide to birth control options in Singapore.
Male condoms are made of thin latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene. They should be worn once your partner’s penis is erect, and before any sexual contact.
Effectiveness: Condoms are 85% effective at preventing pregnancies.
- Convenience: Male condoms are widely available at supermarkets and convenience stores. You also don’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase one, unlike other contraceptive options.
- Protection against STIs: Male condoms are one of the only forms of contraceptives that protects you from a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). As such, even if you are on other forms of birth control, you should still ask your male partner to wear a condom, especially if you are having sex outside of a committed relationship.
- High Contraceptive Failure Rate: Condoms have a higher risk of failure compared to other forms of contraceptives. Their effectiveness is also affected by whether your partner knows how to put one on properly and when it is worn. Additionally, it also comes with the risk of tearing or slipping off during intercourse.
Price: Depending on the brand you purchase, you can get condoms for as low as $4.35 for a packet of three.
Birth Control Pill
Colloquially known as “the pill”, birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and create an environment in your body that makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilised.
Typically, you would take a pill every day for 21 days in a row; and then stop taking the pill for 7 days after. You can start taking the birth control pills from any day. However, it’s important that you don’t miss a single day, to ensure its effectiveness.
Effectiveness: If taken correctly, birth control pills can be up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
- Convenient: All you need to do is take a pill every day for it to work. Just set an alarm in the morning on your phone to remind you every day!
- Helps to regulate periods: Even women who may not be sexually active can consider taking the pill, as they may help with managing your periods. This includes a lighter period as well as decreasing menstrual cramps. Another positive side effect is that it may even help to control hormonal acne.
- Reversible: Once you stop taking the pill, your fertility may return almost immediately.
- Requires consistency: Missing a single day may lead to a decrease in the pill’s effectiveness.
- Negative Side Effects: Some women experience negative side effects such as headaches, mood swings, weight gain and bloating when they’re talking birth control pills. If you notice this happening, speak to your doctor on adjusting your dosage or the brand you’re using.
- Do note that if you are above 35 and smoke, you should not take the pill, as it may lead to a higher chance of a stroke or a heart attack. Speak to your doctor to discuss a suitable birth control option for you.
Price: Birth control pills can be purchased over the Doctor Anywhere app from $45, with a doctor’s prescription.
Contraceptive Patch and Rings
Both contraceptive rings and patches release hormones through your skin into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancies. Like the pill, the patch and the ring work on a 3-week-on, and 1-week-off cycle.
- Contraceptive Patch: The patch can be worn anywhere on your skin, preferably somewhere clean and dry. Wear a patch for a week, and switch to a new one weekly. On the fourth week (Day 22 – 28), stay patch-free. To prevent skin irritation, choose a new place to stick on your patch when you refresh it weekly.
- Contraceptive Ring: This is a soft plastic ring, that is inserted into your vagina for three weeks and removed on the fourth week (Day 22 – 28). Insert a new ring at the start of the 4-week cycle.
Effectiveness: Both have an effectiveness of 91 – 99%.
- Convenient: Both are more convenient than pills, as you’d only need to replace them either weekly or every four weeks. Additionally, the patches are rather sticky, and shouldn’t fall off when showering and doing sports.
- Helps to Regulate Periods
- Reversible: Once you stop using these contraceptives, your fertility may return almost immediately.
- Negative Side Effects: This includes nausea, headaches, tender breasts, and even bleeding during periods. Some women using contraceptive rings may also experience vaginal discomfort.
Price: The patch may cost $36 – 50/month, while the ring may cost $60/month.
Contraceptive implants are flexible plastic rods that are inserted under the skin of your upper arm, by a doctor. The procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes and would be administered with local anaesthesia, for minimal pain.
The implants release small doses of the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. They can last up to three years, without needing to be changed.
Effectiveness: An implant is up to 99% effective.
- Long-Lasting and Effective: For women who are sure they do not want children for a while, implants are a convenient form of birth control, without the monthly hassle of pills or patches. This requires a longer commitment, so it may not be for everyone.
- Alternative to Estrogen: As other types of hormonal birth control may contain estrogen, women who are affected by estrogen may opt for implants instead.
- Reversible: Once the implant is removed, your fertility may return almost immediately.
- May Cause Scarring: Minor scarring can occur, as the implant must be inserted under your skin.
- Negative Side Effects: Common side effects include weight gain, headaches, tender breasts, and nausea; as well as irregular bleeding, which should go away after a few months.
Price: Implants may cost between $400 – 600, for three years.
Birth Control Injection
The injection contains progestin and is given by your doctor every 12 weeks to suppress ovulation. This works out to about four shots every year.
Effectiveness: The injections are up to 98% effective, if done regularly.
- Non-Invasive and Convenient: This may be a suitable alternative for women who dislike the fuss of a monthly or weekly contraceptive routine, but also do not want an implant inserted in their bodies. Since the shot is every 12 weeks, it’s a relatively convenient option.
- Longer Time to Regain Fertility: Compared to the other hormonal birth control methods, injections may have a longer lasting effect on your fertility. It typically takes six – 12 months to regain your fertility; so, do factor this in, if you are planning to have children in the future.
- Negative Side Effects: Common side effects include weight gain, headaches, tender breasts and nausea; as well as irregular bleeding, which is common for the first six – 12 months after the first injection.
Price: One shot may cost between $150 – 200/injection.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus, by a doctor. You won’t need to change an IUD for up to five years.
There are two types of IUDs:
- Copper: Prevents pregnancy by preventing sperm from reaching your body, as copper ions are damaging to sperms
- Hormonal: Prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones in your body
Effectiveness: An IUD is 99% effective.
- Long-Lasting and Effective: Like an implant, IUDs last for a long time and are a good option for women who are sure they do not want children for a while. It’s unlikely that your IUD would fall out as well. If it does, it’s more likely to fall out within the first three months of when you first have it inserted.
- Immediate Effect: Copper IUDs start working immediately after insertion.
- Reversible: Your fertility returns almost immediately, once an IUD is removed.
- Insertion may hurt: You may experience cramping or pain when the IUD is being inserted. Not to worry – this usually lasts only for a few minutes. You can take pain medication before the procedure if you’re nervous about the pain.
- Risk of Infection: IUDs may raise your risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, as bacteria may enter your body during the IUD insertion. The risk of this happening is typically within he first 20 days of getting your IUD.
- Negative Side Effects: Side effects include headaches, tender breasts, and irregular bleeding, which may go away after six months.
Price: An IUD costs $400 – 500 and can last for up to five years.
For a more permanent solution, you and your partner may consider surgery. This is known as vasectomy for men and ligation for women.
- Vasectomy involves sealing the tubes in a man’s scrotum, to block off sperm from entering his semen. This won’t impact a man’s ability to hold an erection or have sex. It is a relatively simple procedure.
- Ligation is known informally as “having your tubes tied”. The surgeon will clip a woman’s fallopian tubes, so that the sperm and egg cannot meet. Ligation is relatively more complicated to perform than vasectomy.
Effectiveness: The effectiveness of both is close to 100%.
- Permanent and Effective: For individuals who are sure they do not want children, getting surgery is an effective way to rid your mind of possible pregnancy scares.
- Doesn’t Affect Hormones: Specifically for ligation, unlike hormonal birth control, this surgery will not have any impact on your hormones. As such, you won’t experience side-effects such as weight gain, menstrual issues or headaches.
- Not Reversible: It is hard to reverse both surgeries if you do change your mind. As such, do take the time to make a considered decision before you proceed with the surgery.
- Risk of Complications: As with every invasive surgery, there is a small risk of complications, such as an infection. These are typically rather minor and can be treated with antibiotics and rest.
Price: It depends on whether you have the surgery at a public or private hospital.
- Public Hospital: Starting from $200
- Private Hospitals: Starting from $2,000
- Public Hospital: Starting from $1,000
- Private Hospitals: Starting from $10,000
Emergency Contraceptive Pills
Also known as the “morning after pill”, emergency contraceptives are taken after sex. They are not meant to be a regular form of birth control. As their name suggests, these pills should only be taken in an emergency, such as a condom slipping out or breaking during sex.
Take the pill as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours for it to be most effective. The pill works by preventing or delaying ovulation; but it cannot reverse a pregnancy.
Effectiveness: The effectiveness of the emergency contraceptive pill decreases the later you take them. They are 75 – 89% effective, if taken within 3 days of sex.
- Convenient Option in Emergencies: The morning after pill is the most convenient option to prevent a pregnancy, in the case of an emergency. You only need to visit a GP for a prescription, to purchase one.
- Mental Stress: Taking the morning after pill is usually a stressful experience since it’s only taken when something’s gone wrong. Save yourself that headache and opt for more regular birth control, so that you don’t have to worry about a pregnancy scare.
- Negative Side Effects: This includes headaches, abdominal pain, fatigue; and your next menstrual cycle may be affected.
Price: Emergency contraceptive pills can be purchased over the Doctor Anywhere app for $45, with a doctor’s prescription.
In summary, there are various birth control options available to you in Singapore. Each has its pros and cons. Pick the one that is most suitable for your lifestyle and health conditions.
Other Birth Control Methods
Apart from the above contraceptives, there are other birth control methods couples use to prevent pregnancies. These are certainly not as fool-proof as using contraceptives.
Counting Ovulation Days
A woman can only get pregnant on a few days during her menstrual cycle. This ‘fertile window’ occurs when ovulation happens.
Typically, ovulation happens 14 days before the onset of your period. As such, you would need to track a typical menstrual cycle by counting the number of days between when your periods start. Your most fertile days are the three days leading up to and including the day of ovulation. These are the days you should avoid having sex on if you don’t want to get pregnant.
As the math may be tricky, it could be easier to download a period-tracking app, such as Clue, that will do this scheduling for you.
The withdrawal method – also known as “pulling out – involves withdrawing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation occurs to prevent pregnancy. While some couples may opt for this as they do not want to use other types of contraceptives, the withdrawal method is not very effective at preventing pregnancies.
This is because it may be difficult to time when one should withdraw their penis; and even if done on time, there may also be sperm in a man’s pre-ejaculate. Additionally, as you’re having unprotected sex, it exposes both of you to sexual health risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
As you can see, there are many different types of birth control options available to you. Do note that whatever birth control method you opt for, you should always have protected sex with a condom, if you are not in a committed relationship.
Speak to a doctor for a better understanding of what birth control method is best for you. Our doctors are available 24/7 to address any concerns you have and provide supportive and non-judgmental advice. You can also purchase birth control pills and emergency contraceptive pills on the in-app Marketplace, with our doctor’s prescription.