The trendy T-shaped device
Birth control. By university, most girls are either on or considering being on birth control, be it for contraceptive reasons, acne, cramps, or other health issues. In the past, the pill seemed to be the tried and true method, but nowadays, there are many more options to be considered.
In the past, a doctor would be likely to simply write a prescription for a certain birth control pill, to be taken every day at the same time, and be on their way. Today, with the rise in other forms of contraception, doctors are now likely to sit down with their patient and go over the benefits and risks of each option.
Condoms, the most frequently used type of birth control, are the only type that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and are commonly used on top of other forms.
The patch and the NuvaRing are similar in that they are worn for three weeks at a time, the patch on the upper arm or abdomen and the ring inserted vaginally, and each release progestin to prevent ovaries from releasing an egg.
Another option now available is to get a shot every three months. This would necessitate visiting ones General Practitioner every three months for the hormonal injection. For a more long-term contraceptive, there is the option to have a rod inserted into one’s upper arm, approximately the size of a matchstick that releases progestin and lasts up to three years.
The intrauterine devices (IUDs) are also becoming more and more popular. There are two different forms of IUDs, a copper and a hormonal version. Both are small, t-shaped devices which are implanted into the uterus and stop the sperm from reaching the egg and the egg from attaching to the uterine wall. However, with the hormonal IUD, the device releases progestin and can therefore help with acne and cramps, unlike the copper.
There was a large stigma surrounding IUDs in the past, as the Dalkon Shield IUD resulted in numerous infections and infertility while it was on the market in the 1970s. However, the IUDs today are much safer and have an extremely low risk of infection. They can last for either 5 or 10 years and are more than 99.8% effective for copper and 99.6% for the hormonal, Mirena version. Compared to the pill, which has a 3% user failure rate as the effectiveness lowers each time the pill is missed or taken at the wrong time, resulting in an average effectiveness of 92%.
Patients say that the procedure can feel like typical menstrual cramps, severity depending on the person, and there is usually bleeding for the next month on average. For the first year, 20% of women report that they no longer have their period. This statistic increases to 50% in the second year, and 80% in the third year.
One issue with IUDs is the problem of accessibility. To start using the pill, one simply makes an appointment with a GP, gets a prescription and gets it filled. However, with IUDs, one has to consult with a GP, get a prescription, buy the IUD, make another appointment for the procedure, and then
come back in for a follow-up. Therefore, for those who have difficulty accessing a doctor routinely, the procedure could prove difficult.
A common myth is that the IUD will move or will fall out of place with time. However, it is an extremely low risk, and should it move, it would occur within the first few months and could be easily put back into place.
Price is another component, which frequently sways people, as many insurance plans do not cover the majority of the price, resulting in a couple hundred dollars up front, as opposed to $12 a month for the pill. While it does end up being cheaper in the long run, as the IUD can last either 5 or 10 years, the large initial bill can turn potential users away.
The IUD is considered an extremely safe and hassle-free method of birth control and has had endless success stories. However, like any medication or procedure, there could be potential personal side effects and therefore it is always best to consult a GP and go through the different types of contraception and what works best for you as an individual.