By Sophia Lopez, February 16 2023—
When it comes to birth control, there are a lot more methods than the common pill we tend to hear about. But whether you were raised in a conservative religious home or just didn’t get the proper sex education at school — or both — it can be confusing to figure out what the best and safest method of birth control is for you. Everyone’s body is different, so it’s best to check with your doctor before starting any of these methods. Here’s a list of a few different birth control methods and their pros and cons.
Probably the most commonly heard-of method, the pill comes in two types: the combination pill and the minipill. The combination pill consists of pills with both estrogen and progestin in them to stop your ovaries from releasing eggs, also known as preventing pregnancy. The minipill is slightly different in that the pills only contain progestin, but it works the same. They have to be taken every day to be effective and range between 91–99 per cent effective if taken properly. The pill is slightly cheaper than other alternatives and some can even be covered by your insurance. However, the responsibility of taking it every day is a must or else the effectiveness goes down. There’s also the concept of the pill messing up people’s hormones — but of course, that differs in how serious it is from person to person.
Implant and IUDs
The implant is a plastic rod that is implanted under the skin and releases progestin to prevent pregnancy. When it comes to intrauterine devices (IUDs), a copper IUD is a T-shaped copper device that gets placed in your uterus by a doctor and it prevents pregnancy by fighting off sperm. The copper stops the sperm from ever getting to the egg. A hormonal IUD is also inserted into the uterus by a doctor, but it releases a small amount of progestin instead. All three options last a lot longer with less maintenance, the implant lasting up to three years to the IUD lasting several years. Once inserted, the effectiveness is more than 99 per cent. The insertion of these devices and the initial side effects after, however, are not exactly pleasant experiences.
A small sticker that you can either put on your upper arm, butt or back, the patch releases estrogen and progestin into the body to prevent pregnancy. You need to replace the patch every week for three weeks, then no patch for a week to get your period. Similar to the pill in both price and effectiveness, the patch has the advantage of slightly less side effects and you don’t have to touch it for a week. Cons include human error, such as if you don’t apply it correctly.
Ah, the classic. The condom, with both internal and external options, is preferred for single-use moments. No need for a routine or to follow up with anything — unless of course that condom breaks. While many could say using a condom “doesn’t feel the same,” it’s the most convenient option if you’re not looking for anything long-term. The effectiveness rate varies from 79–95 per cent, depending on if it’s used properly. They’re also the only method of birth control that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Nothing, I guess?
You could technically get away with not using any sort of birth control — but this is really not recommended. By using no method of birth control, you not only put yourself at high risk of pregnancy, but you also have a greater chance of getting an STI.
Some honourable mentions include: the temperature method and the cervical mucus method, a more complicated and time consuming method; a vasectomy, which might mean having a conversation with your partner; the ring, which I honestly don’t understand how it works, among others.
As you can see, there are plenty of different options of birth control for people with different needs and priorities. Hopefully this list helped you understand some of them better. It’s important to take the method of birth control that works best for you and that you feel comfortable using it.