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Birth Control Pills: Birth Control Methods and Techniques

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Let’s be honest, shall we? No one wants to take birth control pills or use any type of contraceptive, but the majority of men and women realize that birth control methods are absolutely necessary as a means of preserving their way of life and as a protective method that prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Most often, men and women complain about the hassle of taking birth control pills, the limited sensations experienced with condom use, and unwanted mood swings that come with some hormonal birth control methods. But as responsible individuals, the need for contraceptives cannot be exaggerated—more protection is better and abstinence, if done properly, is one’s safest path.

Women and men need to be familiar with all birth control methods. A familiarity with different birth control methods helps people make decisions based on health concerns, birth control effectiveness, and contraceptive convenience. VibeReview has created a brief birth control information guide that will help you find the right contraceptives for you. People automatically assume that birth control pills and condoms are the only reliable birth control methods; however, other viable birth control methods are now available. This guide will introduce you to the latest birth control methods, while shedding some light on the positive and negative aspects of particular birth control methods.

Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are among the most popular and effective birth control methods available to women. They do not protect against STDs, but the simple act of taking a daily pill is a convenient and easy method of preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills prevent ovulation (the release of an egg by ovaries), and also help thicken cervical mucus, which lessens the chance of fertilization. These pills are generally made of two important hormones—estrogen and progesterone. Pills with both hormones are usually referred to as “combination” pills, while the “mini” pill only contains progestin.

When a woman ingests a birth control pill, she introduces her body to synthetic hormones that are naturally produced by her body. Increased hormonal activity helps prevent ovulation, but this increase can also cause undesirable side effects: depression, spotting, headaches, breast tenderness, decreased libido, and mood changes. If you ever experience any of these side effects, ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a pill with fewer hormones that is more suited to your body’s unique chemistry. In the end, avoiding all of these side effects is virtually impossible. After all, the birth control pill works by increasing hormone levels in your body that impact sexual reproduction. Important note: Women who smoke and are over the age of thirty-five are more susceptible to blood clots while using birth control pills. If you smoke and are thirty-five or older, consult with your physician for a different birth control method.

Combination Pill
The combination pill (estrogen and progesterone synthetic hormones) is an oral contraceptive that is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy if taken every day at the same time. Many consider the combination pill the most effective birth control method available to women. However, this 99 percent effectiveness often drops to 95 percent effectiveness when women fail to take the pill every day at the same time. Women protect themselves best by taking all birth control pills every day at the same time, so this is not only an issue with the combination pill is—it applies to the mini pill, as well.

The combination pill suppresses ovulation effectively. Each package of combination pills lasts for a twenty-eight day cycle. For twenty-one days of the cycle, women take one pill a day. After twenty-one days, women swallow one “dummy” pill a day for seven days. These dummy pills do not contain any hormones. Why take the dummy pills if they don’t contain hormones? Two reasons: Women’s hormone levels drop while taking dummy pills, causing women to have their period, and the dummy pills help women maintain their routine of taking pills every day at the same time. Remaining on the same routine is critical, so dummy pills help women continue the routine without interruption.

Since this pill must be taken every day at the same time for 99 percent effectiveness, women should choose a time during the day or night that is easy to remember, when few distractions could potentially make them forget to take the pill. A lot of women choose to take the pill immediately when they wake up; others prefer to take it right before bed. Make a decision and stick with it, avoiding confusion and forgetfulness. The first pill of an active birth control pill pack should always be taken within five days of the onset of one’s period. This is the best method of preventing pregnancy after one’s period, and it also helps women avoid taking back-up pills. If the first pill of an active pack is not ingested during a woman’s period, she must wait seven days before protection is guaranteed. Use a condom or another birth control method during the seven days.

Positives

  • 99 percent effective when taken correctly
  • Less dramatic PMS symptoms
  • Alleviates some acne problems
  • Possible protection against ovarian and endometrial cancer
  • Convenient and easy
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • Safe for most women

Negatives

  • Possible irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Introducing sensitive body chemistry to synthetic hormones
  • Possible weight gain, breast tenderness, and libido suppression
  • Blood clots (women over thirty-five and women who smoke)
  • Mood changes
  • Does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases
  • Antibiotics can lessen effectiveness and protection
  • Cannot take while breastfeeding

Mini Pill
The mini pill is a progestin-only pill. It is slightly less effective than the combination pill. The combination pill is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when taken correctly; the mini pill is 98 percent effective when taken correctly. Like the combination pill, the mini pill should be taken every day at the same time. Deviating from this routine lessens the effectiveness of the mini pill. The combination pill works by consistently inhibiting ovulation. The mini pill, on the other hand, relies on progestin to thicken cervical mucus, which reduces sperm penetration. Depending on the dosage, ovulation inhibition either increases or decreases according to the dosage—low, intermediate, or high doses of progestin. Doctors determine which dosage works best for certain women, so be sure to explore your options with your physician.

Blood clotting is a possible side effect of the combination pill; however, the likelihood of blood clotting with mini pills is much less. Breastfeeding is safe when taking the mini pill and dummy pills are not included in mini pill packets. Indeed, mini pills must be taken every single day without interruption. When a mini pill packet runs out, a new packet must be started immediately. Since there is no break of dosage, light spotting and irregular periods could occur. Fewer side effects result from taking mini pills, but the mini pill is also less effective in preventing pregnancy. It is important to discuss your medical history with your doctor before taking birth control pills, specifically when taking the mini pill—which exacerbates certain medical conditions: depression, kidney disease, liver disease, and more.

Positives

  • Reliable form of birth control
  • Convenient and easy
  • Less dramatic PMS symptoms
  • Less chance of blood clotting
  • Decreased risk of endometrial cancer and inflammatory pelvic disease
  • Fewer periods and bleeding
  • Less chance of anemia
  • Suited for older women and women with high blood pressure
  • Does not interrupt sex

Negatives

  • May increase the risk of ovarian cysts
  • Slightly increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Mood changes, headaches, and decreased libido
  • Must be taken every day at the same time
  • Does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases
  • Protection lessened when taking antibiotics
  • Diarrhea and vomiting lessen protection

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