‘Multiplying’ with caution (pt 2)

Moving on to the topic of erecting your ‘road block’. If you do decide to start using contraception, view it as a you would a restaurant menu. You may get lucky and like your first choice, but if you don’t, there is a wide array of options to sample as you search for the one best suited to your body and situation.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING(safe period)-99% effective if used correctly.This method aims to help women achieve contraception by simply knowing what times of the month to avoid sex. Acts by using body signs and symptoms like: daily body temperature which must be measured at the same time everyday with a special kind of thermometer. A temperature spike of 3 days in a row is watched out for. This spike takes place right after ovulation. Cervical mucus secretions which is wetter, clearer and slippery right before ovulation. Advantages -this is a method for women with regular menstrual cycles. It has no side effects and is acceptable to most cultures and faiths.Disadvantages-it takes 3-6 cycles to learn properly. Requires days of abstinence. Failure rates are quite high as certain factors-stress, travel or illness- may alter the menstrual cycle. Also often used incorrectly. If you absolutely do not want to get pregnant, this method isn’t for you.

Other methods can be permanent(irreversible) i.e sterilisation or temporary(reversible).

CONDOMS-98% effective. These act by simply creating a physical barrier between the sperm and the egg. Advantage– it prevents STIs and has no medical side effects. Disadvantage– some people may be allergic to latex. May split or tear if not used properly.

THE HORMONALS are the remaining group and mostly act by using the hormones(oestrogen, progesterone or both) to thicken the cervical mucus, hence making it difficult for sperm to penetrate the womb and reach an egg, or by thinning the lining of the womb, or in the case of the implants, stop the release of egg from the ovary.

1-Combined oral contraceptives(the pill) >99% effective. Contains oestrogen and progesterone. Advantages-makes bleeding regular, lighter and less painful. Reduces risk of cancers of the ovaries, womb and colon. Reduces fibroids and cysts. Disadvantages-can increase blood pressure. Does not protect against STIs. Must be used daily. Can be made less effective by use of some other medications e.g antibiotics.

2- Progestogen-only pill >99% effective. Advantages– safe for use while breastfeeding. good for women who can’t use the combined pill. Disadvantages-may cause irregular period. daily use. may cause ovarian cysts.

3- Intrauterine devices-(Copper or Mirena) >99% effective. Stops the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or tube. Advantages-lasts 5-10years. Can be used in breastfeeding women. Fertility returns almost immediately. Disadvantages– no protection against STIs. May cause ectopic pregnancy. Mirena causes less vaginal bleeding(may stop completely). Copper can cause pain and bleeding.

4 Implant->99% effective. Small tube inserted under the arm. Advantages-lasts 3years. Safe for breastfeeding. Fertility returns after removal. May decrease heavy/painful periods. Disadvantages– disrupts periods. May lessen sex drive. Mood changes.

5-Injections->99% effective. Commonest is the depo provera. Lasts 12 weeks. Advantages-safe for breastfeeding. May decrease heavy/painful periods. Disadvantages– there may be a year delay of return to fertility. No protection against STIs. May cause weight gain and bone thinning.

6-Contraceptive patch->99% effective. Each patch lasts for a week, you change the patch weekly for 3 weeks and have a week off without a patch. Advantage-easy to use. Makes periods lighter, regular and less painful. Disadvantages-may cause skin irritation, itching and soreness. No protection against STIs. Can cause bleeding between periods.

STERILISATION– This is a permanent and surgical method of contraception for both sexes. Men can undergo vasectomy and women can undergo tubal ligation. Advantages-it is >99% effective. does not affect hormones or sex drive. Disadvantages– offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases(STIs). It is difficult to reverse.

Less common methods not covered in this discussion include vaginal ring, diaphragm, female condoms and caps. Also not discussed is emergency contraceptive methods.

A more detailed conversation on your chosen method will probably be given by your healthcare provider. This is a guide to help you choose and not a substitute for their advice.

I personally had to sample some of these before finding what suits me while some women I know chose one and got it right away. What works for someone else might not suit you. Just listen to your body.

Good luck as you find your way to planned parenthood!

(pls check http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/vaginal-ring.aspx for further reading)

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