A Girl’s Guide to Birth Control

Birth control: there are so many different methods that a young woman could choose from. There’s the pill, the patch, IUDs, the shot, the ring and the implant are just some of the options when it comes to birth control. While that’s an amazing change from how things once were, it’s admittedly a bit more confusing now.

Should you stick with condoms, or should you supplement it with another contraception method? Are you using it for contraception or to help with bad periods and acne? There are a million more factors that go into making the right decision for you, so here’s a quick, handy guide to a few of the more common feminine contraception methods.

The Pill

The pill may be the most common form of contraception used today, and it’s no wonder why, being easy and effective 91% of the time (99% if taken perfectly). Often coming in a pack of 28 pills, which in turn is made up of three weeks’ worth of hormone pills (which can either be composed of progestin, or a combination of that and estrogen, depending on the kind of pill your doctor prescribes).

This option is perfect if you’re not necessarily looking for contraception help, but instead want help with easing periods, cramps and acne! Just be sure to be timely when it comes to this option—missing a pill isn’t the end of the world, but the effectiveness of the pill relies on consistently taking it.

The Shot

Also known as Depo-Provera, the shot is an injection containing progestin that is administered every three months at your doctor’s office. It is 99% effective, and is one of the most private and convenient options, since you only have to visit the doctor four times a year for its administration, thus cutting out the possibility of missing a day with the pill.  Also with the shot, your period is often shorter or nonexistent!

The Patch

Another convenient option is the estrogen and progestin patch, which you place on your back, upper arm, stomach or butt so that the hormones can be absorbed via the skin. One patch lasts one week, so in a month, you’d typically use three and then take a week off for your period (though you don’t have to!). It is 91% effective, and can help ease cramps and make your period more regular.

The Implant

While it is one of the more expensive birth control methods, the implant is very effective (99% effectiveness) and very convenient—an implant lass for four years! The implant is inserted by the doctor under your upper arm’s skin, making it one of the more private options too. The implant is a progestin only birth control, and it eases period symptoms during the four years it’s inserted.

The Ring

More commonly known as a NuvaRing, this form of birth control is a ring that is inserted into your vagina and contains estrogen and progestin. It is 91% effective, and you have to change it once a month. That being said, it helps with acne and eases period cramps, which is always a win!

The IUD

IUDs fall into two categories: hormonal and copper. Both are inserted into the uterus and are 99% effective, the major difference being in the length of effectiveness. The hormonal type releases progestin to prevent pregnancy, and depending on the kind you get, it can last from three to six years. The copper type does not contain any hormones, just a bit of copper wrapped around the IUD’s t-shape, and lasts 12 years. As with the other birth control types, the hormonal type of IUD eases period problems, and the copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception.

No matter what type of birth control you pick, be sure to do your own research into the disadvantages of each kind of birth control. Only you know your body, and birth control is meant to help you live your life, so be sure to take the time to find the right one for you! Talking with your doctor is always a great first step to finding the absolute right birth control for you.

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