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Birth Control Options

From a Girl Who Has Tried Almost All of Them

Birth control. Rough topic in some cases but for now let's talk about each type (that I have tried): Pill, Patch, Condoms, Depo, Paragard, Nexplanon.

Pill

Birth control pills are a kind of medicine with hormones. Birth control pills come in a pack, and you take one pill every day. The pill is safe, affordable, and effective if you always take your pill on time. Besides preventing pregnancy, the pill has lots of other health benefits, too.

I have always been super forgetful and in order for it to work at its best, you have to take it every day at the exact same time. I would set reminders in my phone and everything. I used to take it right before I went to school (so around 6 AM) but when the weekends came around, I would NOT wake up at 6 AM just to take a pill. 

Effectiveness: 99% if used perfectly. 91% is the average.

Benefits: can reduce: acne, bone thinning, cysts in your breasts and ovaries, endometrial and ovarian cancers, serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, iron deficiency (anemia), PMS (premenstrual syndrome)

Luckily I was not sexually active during this time but I was taking them to stabilize my hormones. I would not choose this one personally but if you have a constant schedule and are able to take them daily, you will do just fine.

Side Effects: The hormones in the pill can change your level of sexual desire. You may also notice spotting or bleeding between periods (this is more common with progestin-only pills), sore breasts, nausea, or headaches.

I also had no side effects on this particular method but (with not being sexually active so I didn't need to prevent getting pregnant), I had not received any benefits. The cramps I had, the menstrual flow, and the initial problem we wanted to solve was not being helped. However, I do blame that on the fact that I averaged four pills every week when I should have taken the prescribed seven.

Patch

The trans-dermal contraceptive patch is a safe, simple, and affordable birth control method that you wear on the skin of your belly, upper arm, butt, or back. Put a new patch on every week for three weeks, and it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. Then you get a week off before you repeat the cycle.

Effectiveness: 91%

I literally loved this method. I will say you would probably be best wearing condoms as well. I had this during the time I was sexually active and I always had one on during the week that I was supposed to but (totally my fault and I did end up pregnant because of it) I kept it on an extra day every week so really it would be like Monday- Tuesday instead of Monday- Monday. 

Benefits: same as Pill method

Side Effects: The hormones in the patch can cause bleeding between periods, tender breasts, headaches, or nausea. Some people notice a little soreness on their skin where the patch is.

I will say I had hardly any side effects, maybe breast tenderness, but that's about it. The benefits were showing in terms of working to prevent pregnancy, and I did get my period a little later than I should have.

Definitely the easiest option, as long as you don't mind calling in a prescription every time you need a refill. Just don't be like me and wear it when you're supposed to be on the next patch already.

Condoms

Condoms are great at preventing both pregnancy and STDs. If you follow the instructions and use them every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, there’s very little chance of pregnancy, or getting or giving an STD.

Effectiveness: 85%

Benefits: Protects against STDs, Cost Less

Side Effects: None

Okay so these haven't failed me yet. Sure it feels a little different than doing things without a condom, but it is the only one to protect against STDs so this is SUPER recommended!!! Unless you know all of your partner's history or have both been tested recently, condoms are needed for protection no matter what. 

There is a chance they will break, of course. Just be careful and make sure it is put on correctly and tearing should be down to a minimal percentage. 

Depo

The depo shot (AKA Depo-Provera) is an injection you get once every three months. It’s a safe, convenient, and private birth control method that works really well if you always get it on time.

So this is the one where you will have to go to the doctor's office every three months to get a shot injected either into your (non-dominant preferably) arm or your favorite butt cheek. I have only done it in my left arm because I felt like sitting after that would be hard for a bit.

Effectiveness: 94% if taken as directed

Benefits: Can stop periods all together, easy to use

The benefits were definite protection of pregnancy and I was a lucky one to never get my periods during the entire time I was on this method. Also, it is very easy to make appointments for this one because you do it right there at the hospital. 

Side Effects: nausea, weight gain, headaches, breast tenderness, depression, slight bruising where the shot was given, very rarely, a small, permanent dent in the skin where the shot was given, may take up to ten months to become pregnant after stopping.

I had gained a ton of weight on this. I was averaging ten pounds per three months. I am not very physically active so if you don't find yourself exercising (and yes, that means more than just walking to the corner store), I would skip this one. It does heighten your cravings. THIS IS ALSO JUST A POSSIBILITY: pain during intercourse. This is very possible but it hardly happens. The second time I had received the shot, I was hurting. Do I know for sure that the shot was the absolute factor? No. But just beware. 

Paragard

An IUD is a tiny device that's put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.

My experience with this one was the worst for me. I switched from the Depo shot to the Paragard because of how I was gaining so much weight. PS: this is the IUD that does NOT have hormones. 

Effectiveness: 99% 

Benefits: Works for up to 10 years

Side Effects: pain when the IUD is put in, cramping or backaches for a few days after the IUD is put in, spotting between periods, irregular periods, heavier periods, and worse menstrual cramps 

The day of and the two days after: I physically could not move from the position of the insertion. I took the day off of school the next day and was stuck in my bed. BIG CRAMPS for those days. My boyfriend could feel the string every time and it hurt him BUT the big problem was, with it only being a month inside, it moved. With it being misplaced, it was no longer effective and I needed to get it out as soon as possible. (Yes, I did feel pain and went to get an ultrasound to see what was wrong, and that is what was found).

Insertion: The insertion was exactly what they tell you it is; three big cramps. Sounds easy but I have a high pain tolerance and I teared up a little bit. It happened in a matter of what seemed to be five minutes. They do ask if you would like to be told what is happening or if you would not and I personally thought being told exactly what is happening is the best because they tell you when you will feel the pain so you can brace yourself.

Removal: EASY!!! Way easier than putting it in. You feel one medium/big cramp and that's it. 

Nexplanon

The birth control implant (AKA Nexplanon) is a tiny, thin rod about the size of a matchstick. The implant releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant. A nurse or doctor inserts the implant into your arm and that’s it—you’re protected from pregnancy for up to five years. It’s a get-it-and-forget-it birth control.

So this is what I have currently and, fingers crossed, it won't be a problem. Insertion is one of the easier processes. 

Effectiveness: 99%

Insertion: You will literally only feel the stinging of the anesthesia they use to numb the certain part of your arm (also make sure it is the non dominant one too because it will feel gross for a week). They stick it in your arm and it's done in 2.5 seconds. They bandage it and wrap it. You cannot shower with that arm for 24 hours! In my arm, there was a ton of pain but nothing too bad, I more or less couldn't put my arm straight down.

Benefits: Easy to use, convenient, can get pregnant right after removal.

Side Effects: Headaches, breast pain, nausea, weight gain, ovarian cysts, pain or bruising where the implant was inserted, an infection where the implant was inserted

I get lots of migraines. This is rare for this method of birth control but since I've had migraines my whole life, it is more frequent now. Breast tenderness is also applicable to me.

Removal: Just like with the insertion, a doctor or nurse gives you a shot to numb a small area of your arm. Then they make a small cut and remove the implant. You usually just feel a little pinch or stinging when you get the numbing shot. After that, it shouldn’t hurt when they make the incision or take the implant out.

I have not gone through the removal process so I cannot personally say if it does hurt.

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