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Taking Control of Your Birth Control

November 12, 2017

 

Birth control. It is a hot topic no doubt and an important one. Whatever your opinion of the subject, its important to educate these young women to make the best decision for their body. 

 

 

#1. Just say no! The number one comment I hear from my older patients is they wished they had had their first sexual experience with a guy they loved and he loved them. Boys are still using those cliche lines such as (imagine in your best boy voice) "Well if you loved me, you'd do this for me." Don't fall for this crap. He's using you as an object. This affects women in so many different ways especially mentally and emotionally, sometimes creating emotional, long-lasting scars.

Please please please wait for the right guy! This is your body, not his. 

 

 

#2. Use condoms. I always, always, always tell my patients to use condoms even if they are using other forms of birth control. Do you realize that many times he's been with another woman? He's just transferring one woman's bacteria to another woman. This is how sexually transmitted infections (STI) are spread. Take care of your body.

 

 

#3. Reliable birth control options. There are a number of options of which to choose, but below I have listed three of the most effective methods including the pill, an implant in the arm, or an IUD placed in the uterus.

 

 

The pill.

 

 

Estrogen and progestin hormones working together to put your ovary (eggs) to sleep so you won't be passing an egg and thins your uterine lining.

 

Pros- highly effective, may clear up acne, least invasive (meaning there is no pain or procedures needed)

 

Cons- MUST remember to take it every day

 

Common side effects- headaches, nausea, vomiting, breakthrough bleeding

 

Warning symptoms: severe pain in your legs or arm (concern for blood clots), severe abdominal or chest pain, vision changes (flashing lights, zigzags, blurred vision), or severe headache (different from what your usual headaches)

 

Tip: set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your pill and place your pills near your toothbrushes so you'll remember to take your pill when you brush your teeth every morning

 

 

The Implant.

Your provider will inject a numbing medicine into your arm and insert a small rod into the inside of your upper arm.  Progestin only hormone. Thins the lining in your uterus so no fertilized egg can implant. It also creates a plug in your cervix to prevent sperm from swimming up to find the egg. 

 

Pros- highly effective, don't have to remember to take anything, good for 3 years, done in the office, usually takes about 10-15 mins, can be removed and a new one inserted in the same appointment

 

Cons- irregular, irregular bleeding per the manufacturer (unpredictable timing and amounts of period); invasive in-office procedure

 

Common side effects- breakthrough or irregular bleeding

 

Warning symptoms: signs of infection after insertion (redness, swelling, pain at site, oozing pus, odor) 

 

Tip: Do not have any unprotected sex two weeks prior to your appointment. You will take a pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant before we insert the implant. You also want to wait 7 days after insertion from having unprotected sex. This may be overly cautious, but this way you have allowed enough time for the hormone to take effect.

 

 

The IUD.

 

 

A small T shaped device placed up through your vagina and cervix into the uterus.

Two types: hormonal, nonhormonal (copper)

 

Hormonal IUD

     Progestin only hormone. Thins the lining in your uterus so no fertilized eggs can implant. It also creates a plug in your cervix to prevent sperm from swimming up to find an egg. 

 

Pros- highly effective, good for five years, reversible (you can remove and still have kids), "set it and forget it", may have lighter or no periods at all (BONUS!), usually takes about 10-15 mins, can be removed and a new one inserted in the same appointment

 

Cons- invasive procedure (yes it hurts having it placed, but its temporary intense cramping pain)

 

Common side effect- breakthrough or irregular bleeding a 2-3 months after insertion (then it should regulate)

 

Warning symptoms- severe bleeding or pain, you can feel the IUD device in your vagina or it comes out (very rare, but it happens)

 

Tip: Do not have any unprotected sex two weeks prior to your appointment. You will take a pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant before we insert the IUD. You also want to wait 7 days after insertion from having unprotected sex. This may be overly cautious, but this way you have allowed enough time for the hormone to take effect.

 

 

Copper IUD

     Copper is coiled around the T shaped device. Copper kills sperm.

 

Pros- highly effective and immediately, you will continue to have your periods (hence the no hormones), good for 10 years, reversible, can be used as Emergency Contraceptive (meaning if you had an oops fling you can have the copper IUD placed within a few days of unprotected sex and it would terminate any pregnancy), procedure usually takes about 10-15 mins, can be removed and a new one inserted in the same appointment

 

Cons- invasive procedure, periods tend to be intensified-- stronger cramping pains and heavier flows (bummer!)

 

Common side effects- breakthrough bleeding for first few weeks after insertion, heavier periods, heavier cramping

 

Warning symptoms- severe bleeding or pain, you can feel the IUD device in your vagina or it comes out (very rare, but it happens)

 

 

What are your friends using?

If you still don't know which method you'd like to try first, then I recommend asking your mom (and moms...here's an opportunity to talk with your daughters), sisters, girl cousins, lady friends, etc. They may have some good advice. Of course, everyone will have an opinion about which type they like best, but ultimately this is a decision you need to make that fits your body and lifestyle the best.

 

 

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© 2017 by Carlie A. Yearsley, CNM, WHNP, DNP