Women have various contraceptive options, including hormonal methods like pills, patches, and rings and non-hormonal options like condoms and diaphragms. It can be challenging to decide which method is best for you. In this article, we will discuss some of the most commonly used female contraceptive methods to assist you in making an informed choice.
Female contraception comes in four main forms:
Women and individuals with a uterus typically rely on the contraceptive pill as their go-to hormonal contraceptive. The contraceptive pill comes in two forms, each with its unique characteristics.
Reversible contraception can be achieved through synthetic hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone, proven effective when taken correctly. They also offer good control over the menstrual cycle.
Preventing ovulation and thickening the mucus at the cervix are ways combined pills prevent pregnancy. This thickening of the mucus prevents sperm from reaching the womb while also thinning the lining of the womb. This thinning makes it more challenging for a fertilized egg to implant.
The "mini-pill" only contains progesterone and can be used as a contraceptive method. It has fewer risks than the combined pill and is effective if taken correctly. However, it may not provide reliable cycle control.
Progesterone-only pills prevent pregnancy through the thickening of the mucus at the cervix, which prevents the entry of sperm into the womb for the fertilization of an egg. Additionally, these pills can make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant by thinning the womb's lining. More recent mini-pills also impact the ovaries, reducing the frequency of ovulation.
The contraceptive patch, also known as the birth control patch, is another choice for combined hormonal contraception. It is a small adhesive square that is applied to the skin and releases hormones through the skin into the bloodstream. This method is effective for one week and may be beneficial if you struggle with taking a daily pill.
If you're looking for an alternative option, you might want to consider trying the vaginal ring. It's a small and flexible ring that can be inserted into the vagina, providing a combination of contraception similar to the birth control patch. The ring slowly releases oestrogen and progesterone into the bloodstream through the vaginal wall. The ring can remain in place for three weeks before being removed for a hormone-free break. This is a great option if you struggle to remember taking a pill every day.
Contraception methods that do not involve hormones are known as barrier methods. These methods include male condoms, female condoms, dental dams, and diaphragm/cervical caps. These physical barriers prevent sperm from reaching the egg and need to be utilized every time you engage in sexual activity for them to be reliable.
Although not as effective as hormonal contraceptives in preventing pregnancy, it's important to note that certain barrier methods, such as condoms and dental dams, can lower the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So, even if you are using another form of contraception, it's still necessary for you to protect yourself from STIs with condoms or dental dams.
Women and individuals with a uterus have access to multiple long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) that utilize hormones to offer effective birth control options.
A medical professional inserts an IUS, a small plastic T-shaped device, into the uterus. It emits a synthetic version of progesterone directly in the area and typically has minimal impact on the rest of the body.
Depending on the type of device, an IUS can last 3-8 years.
A trained doctor or nurse can insert a flexible rod under the skin of the upper arm. This small rod slowly and steadily releases progesterone into the bloodstream, reducing pregnancy risk. Its effectiveness lasts three years and must be removed or replaced afterwards.
This is a highly effective long-term hormonal contraceptive given every 12 weeks by a trained healthcare professional. It is ideal for those who want to avoid daily or weekly contraception.
The copper coil or Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a long-acting contraception containing no hormones. It is a small plastic frame shaped like a T with a copper wire (coil) attached. Once inserted into the womb, it can remain there for 5-10 years, depending on the type of coil fitted. A doctor must do insertion and removal, which is highly effective, with a success rate of over 99%. The copper coil prevents sperm from reaching and combining with an egg. Using it for emergency contraception can also prevent a fertilized egg from entering the womb.
The copper coil or Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a long-acting contraception containing no hormones. It is a small plastic frame shaped like a T with a copper wire (coil) attached. Once inserted into the womb, it can remain there for 5-10 years, depending on the type of coil fitted. A doctor must do insertion and removal, which is highly effective, with a success rate of over 99%. The copper coil prevents sperm from reaching and combining with an egg. It can also prevent a fertilized egg from settling in the womb, making it a viable option for emergency contraception.
Tubal occlusion involves a surgeon obstructing the fallopian tubes using either plastic or titanium clamps. Another method to achieve this is by pulling a small fallopian tube segment through a silicone ring and sealing it or by tying, cutting, or excising a tube segment.
To perform this, a tiny incision is made close to the belly button, termed a laparoscopy, or just above the pubic hairline, referred to as a mini-laparoscopy. A diminutive instrument equipped with a light and camera, a laparoscope, is employed to visualize the fallopian tubes. The procedure requires general anaesthesia, so the patient is unconscious. Nonetheless, most women can go home on the day of the surgery. Please continue reading for more details on tubal occlusion and other contraceptive methods mentioned previously.
Salpingectomy is another permanent birth control method, where the fallopian tubes are entirely removed. This is usually considered when merely blocking the tubes has been unsuccessful.
Opting for permanent birth control is a significant choice and unsuitable for everyone. However, it might be ideal for women who are sure they don't want future pregnancies. It's essential to understand that permanent contraception doesn't offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Thus, using condoms or other barrier methods remains crucial to prevent STI transmission.
Furthermore, even though sterilization is deemed permanent, there remains a slight possibility of pregnancy in exceptional situations.
Before deciding on permanent contraception, women should consult a medical professional to understand the advantages and potential risks fully.
Obtaining a contraceptive prescription is straightforward with Mobi Doctor's online prescription service. Our platform allows you to access prescriptions for over 20 contraceptive options, including pills, patches, and rings. Complete a brief and secure online form. After submission, a licensed doctor from our team will assess your request to ensure its appropriateness and safety for you. Once approved, your prescription will be sent to a pharmacy you choose.
If you've never been prescribed contraception, an appointment with a doctor is recommended. In such cases, you can arrange an online video consultation with our knowledgeable doctors, who can guide you in selecting the best contraceptive method tailored to your needs and body.