Sexual Health

What Are the Different Kinds of Birth Control?

Before getting into the different types of birth control, it is important to mention that whilst these methods prevent pregnancy to a high extent; they, if not explicitly mentioned, – do not protect from STIs, thus further protection such as condoms and dams should be used during sex.

The Pill

The contraceptive pill is the most commonly used form of birth control in Europe, according to MyContraception.ie. There are two types of pill both of which alter hormones to stop the ovaries from producing eggs and block sperm from reaching the eggs.

The combined pill is the more widely used of the two, according to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA). Users take a daily pill for three weeks and then take one week off to allow the period to come.

The Bar

The hormonal implant is an alternative for those, who for example don’t want to take a pill every day. It is a tube containing the progesterone hormone – the hormone involved in pregnancy – which is periodically released into the bloodstream to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg, according to irishhealth.com.

The bar, as it is commonly known, is just as effective as the pill, but doesn’t need to be replaced for three years. It stops the period completely although for the first year there may be irregular bleeding.

The Patch

The contraceptive patch is a ‘hormonal birth control’ which releases oestrogen and progesterone into the bloodstream, as explained by MyContraception.ie. This will stop the production of eggs.

The patch shares similarities with the pill, in that it is used for three weeks and is then taken off for one week, to allow for the period. A new patch needs to be put on once a week.

However, there is a risk of the patch to fall off. It is recommended to stick it back on immediately but if it no longer adheres to the skin it should be replaced with a new patch, according to IFPA.

The Cervical Cap

The cervical cap is a non-hormonal contraception option. It should be worn during intercourse and removed by 48 hours after.

It is a less effective contraception with an 84 per cent effectiveness rate, according to mycontraception.ie. A sperm-killing chemical called spermicide should be used as well to increase the effectiveness, irishhealth.com recommends.

The cap is initially inserted by a medical professional to ensure it fits the shape of the womb. For this reason, it is not advisable for women who have given birth as the changed shape of the cervix makes it less effective.

The cap won’t affect the menstrual cycle and has been shown to protect against some forms of STIs according to irishhealth.com.

The Coil

There are two types of coil available, the hormonal coil uses hormones and the copper coil physically blocks sperm from reaching the eggs.

They are both equally effective, as stated by MyContraception.ie, however the copper coil can be left inside the womb for longer, lasting up to 10 years. It can be removed at any time by a doctor and fertility will return to normal immediately.

The copper coil can also be used as emergency contraception up to five days after intercourse.

Both coils carry a small risk of piercing the womb or cervix while it is being inserted. This could cause pain and the coil would need to be surgically removed, according to IFPA.

Sterilisation

Sterilisation is an option for both men and women as a non-reversible form of contraception. A vasectomy is available to men where the tubes which carry the sperm are cut and sealed.

Tubal occlusion is available to women and involves the cutting of the Fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from reaching the eggs.

The IFPA recommends sterilisation only as an option for people who have made a definite decision that they don’t want children or have decided they don’t want any more children.

There is an option to reverse both forms of sterilisation. It involves reconnecting the sperm-carrying tubes or the Fallopian tubes. Success rates are highest up to three years following the initial procedure, they then drop considerably every five years following, according to the National Health Service.

The rhythm method

A woman can track her menstrual cycle to predict when she is ovulating in what is commonly referred to as the rhythm method. The method involves keeping note of changes in body temperature and cervical mucus. During ovulation, the body produces a large amount of mucus, according to Planned Parenthood, which is an indicator. However, this method is not as reliable and it is difficult to get it right.

The list above is just a few of the options for birth control but hopefully it helps you decide on which is most suited to you. The factors to take into consideration come down to how often you are willing to take your birth control and how long term you want it to be. Whatever your choice there is an option for you. Consult with your doctor before deciding on any form of contraception.