When it comes to contraception, many tend to stick to either the pill or condoms. Nevertheless there are actually many options available these days which patients should be well-informed about.

While condoms and the Pill may work well for a number of women, they do not suit everybody. Moreover, contraceptions using the hormonal method causes changes in a woman’s body which may not necessarily be the best choice, hence knowing the available options is an essential part of one’s decision making. Here are five of the most commonly available options.

1. Condoms

Let us start with the most commonly used one. Despite being the best way to protect both partners against sexually transmitted diseases, it has been found to be only 82% effective for the average woman as a contraceptive method. However, it is convenient as no planning or procedures need to be perfomed in advance, as long as the condoms are in good condition.

The female condom in comparison is only 79% effective for the average woman with similar properties as the male counterpart but women may run the risk of it being pushed deep into the vagina. Although it gives women a greater ability to ensure the use of contraceptive without having to depend on their partner, it has been shown to be less comfortable for both partners.

2. The combined pill

Often simply referred to as The Pill, it is a combination of two hormones - estrogen and progestogen - taken daily for three weeks with a one week break to make up for 28 days. This method is approximately 91% effective for the average woman, or should we say the average mindful woman, as its efficacy is very much user-dependant hence compliance may be a big issue here for some women.

The progestogen-only pill is usually taken by women who are breastfeeding post-delivery in order to ensure milk supply is not interrupted or affected by the estrogen factor. This pill is even more restrictive as it is recommended to be taken at almost the same time every day, thus it is definitely not the best choice for women on the run.

3. Hormone injections

A better choice for the bust or forgetful woman as it is a mode of contraception that does not depend on you taking it daily and is almost 99% effective. Progestogen is injected into the body and may last up to 13 weeks depending on the type which is used.

Known to reduce painful periods, it also confers some protection against cervical cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease. The down side is the potential weight gain associated which may be an issue for some women.

4. Intrauterine methods

The intrauterine device (IUD) or better known as the ‘coil’, it is a copper device inserted into the uterus and is almost 99% effective. Additionally, it does not need to be removed for five to ten years and takes immediate effect from point of insertion. The peace of mind of not needing to worry for as long as needed is definitely a key selling point here but as with any foreign body, the risk of infection is always there.

Intrauterine system (IUS) is a similar concept to the IUD constituting a plastic device also inserted into the uterus which releases the hormone progestogen into the womb. It is a long-acting contraception that does not depend on daily compliance and is over 99% effective.

5. Contraceptive patch

A small patch stuck onto the skin releasing estrogen and progestogen to stop ovulation. It is over 99% effective provided that one adheres strictly to instructions. However, it may not be as ideal for severely overweight women or smokers as it carries a low risk of adverse side effects such a breast and cervical cancer.

While each woman’s choice of contraception may vary over time, as depending on lifestyle, health and other circumstances, it is crucial for women to be well advised of all the different available methods which may suit them at different times in life. MIMS


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