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Contraception Options

I've spoken about The Pill and why this might not be the best option for everyone but what other contraception options are out there?


"Hormonal" IUD, Vaginal Ring & Implant:

The "Hormonal" IUD (Mirena) is a small T-shaped plastic device inserted into the uterus that secrets a synthetic progesterone-like hormone. This "hormone" makes cervical mucous thicker, inhibiting sperm motility and survival. It may also prevent the release of an egg by reducing Leutinising Hormone and Follicle Stimulating Hormone secretion. The amount of "hormone" released declines by around 50% after 5 years so it needs to be removed every 3-5 years and replaced with a new one. The implant (Implanon) is a small plastic rod is inserted into the upper arm and has the same action as the "Hormonal" IUD. It can be left in for 3 years and is considered to be 99% effective against pregnancy. Vaginal Rings (Nuva Ring) are small plastic rings that you can self-insert into your vagina that secrete "hormones" similar to the previous two. You will need to change it every 4 weeks and it is around 93% effective if used correctly. "Hormonal" birth control options always come with a high risk of side effects such as mood changes, breast tenderness, heavy bleeding, drop in libido, weight gain, and changes to blood pressure and clotting.


Copper IUD:

Another T-shaped plastic device wrapped in copper coils that release copper ions slowly into the uterus to directly inhibit sperm motility and viability due to its toxicity. Copper is also thought to change the transport of the ovum and potentially even damage it. The copper IUD is also a form of emergency contraception as an alternative to the morning after pill - if the IUD is inserted within 5 days of unprotected intercourse, the pregnancy rate is 0.09% which shows just how effective it is in impacting on the sperm’s ability to fertilise the ovum. It can be left in for 10 years, however the pregnancy rate does rise slightly from 0.6% in the first year to 1.9% in the 10th year. The most commonly reported side effects are pain and tenderness of the abdomen, heavier bleeding, painful periods, and zinc deficiency.


Condoms:

The traditional barrier method designed to stop sperm from entering into the female reproductive tract and are 98% effective if used correctly. They are usually made from latex, plastic or lambskin and are made for both male and female genitalia. CONDOMS SHOULD BE USED EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU HAVE A NEW SEXUAL PARTNER OR ARE NOT IN A MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIP as this is the safest way to prevent most sexually transmitted infections - even if you are already using one of the above methods. There aren't usually any side effects unless you have an allergic reaction to either the material of the condom or the lubricant.


Fertility Awareness Method:

This involves tracking your cycles over a number of months to understand your body's fertile window - I have spoken about this in a previous post "Get To Know Your Ovulation". Abstaining from sex during this six day window or using barrier methods to prevent pregnancy. You must really understand your menstrual cycle for this to be effective and I would not advise using this if you do not have regular cycles. I would also not recommend this if you are in a non-monogomous relationship as this does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

These are just some of the most commonly used forms in Australia but of course there are more lesser used ones out there. Knowledge is power ladies and I would love to help you work out what might be the best for you and your body. There is a good choice out there for everyone!

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