Postpartum Birth Control: Permanent and Temporary
If you are planning on an intermission between children, or if you’re done having children, it’s important to select a method of birth control that’s right for you. There are many different options and it can be a difficult decision. Here is some information on effective options gathered by the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Washington State.
Birth control pills: If you take a birth control pill once a day, at the same time each day, your ovaries will not release eggs; doing this also thickens cervical mucus, which is a barrier to sperm.
Pros: The effectiveness is anywhere from 92% to 99.7%. Research suggests that taking the pill decreases menstrual cramps and also decreases the chances of ovarian cancer. You can choose when to have your period, whether that’s once a month, once every three months, or not at all, depending on when you take the pill.
Cons: You have to remember to take the pill every day and at the same time. The pill also has side effects which may include weight gain, increased blood pressure, and mood changes.
Depo Provera: Depo Provera is a shot that you receive every three months. It prevents eggs from being released and thickens cervical mucus.
Pros: The effectiveness is 97-99.7%. You only have to think about it once every three months. Your periods will be lighter, and may go away all together. Research also suggests that Depo Provera may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
Cons: There are a few more side effects such as weight gain, low libido, mood swings, and acne. If you are planning another pregnancy, it may take a long time for Depo Provera users to get pregnant after discontinuing use. Also, some studies suggest that there’s an increased risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Etonogestrel Implant (Implanon®): This is a tiny device, like a rod, that continually releases hormones. It is inserted under the skin on your upper arm. The result is the same as the pill and Depo Provera: eggs are not released and cervical mucus gets thicker.
Pros: The effectiveness is 99.6%, and it lasts for three years, so you don’t have to worry about anything for quite a while. You can also have it removed before the three years is up if you choose to.
Cons: Removing the device is a little tricky and may require surgery if the device breaks or is too deeply embedded. There is also some irregular bleeding with the use of implant.
Condoms: A condom is a latex cover that fit around the penis and prevents sperm from entering the female’s body.
Pros: The effectiveness is 85-98%. There are no hormones with condoms, so no medical side effects are present, unless someone is allergic to latex. It also prevents STD transmission.
Cons: Men may experience the lessening of sensation.
Natural Family Planning: This is also called fertility awareness. This is when women learn and track their body’s cycles on a calendar. Women using this method generally monitor their cervical fluid and take their basal body temperature daily.
Pros: This method has an estimated 80-98% effectiveness. There are no hormones or condoms or implants.
Cons: This requires a lot of diligence. The effectiveness is dependent on accurate, and consistent, monitoring.
IUD: IUD stands for Intra Uterine Device. This device is inserted through the cervix into the uterus. Cervical mucus, fallopian tubes, and the lining of the uterus are changed in order to prevent pregnancy.
Pros: Effectiveness is 99.2-99.9%. It lasts anywhere from 5-10 years, so no worries about that. It’s simple to remove the device as well, if plans change.
Cons: You may experience irregular periods. You also need to check on the device once a month by feeling for the string attached to the device.
Vasectomy: This is an out-patient procedure for men that closes or cuts the tubes inside the scrotum to prevent sperm from being released from the man’s body. Semen is still produced.
Pros: This procedure is 99.9% effective, and it’s permanent. You’ll never have to worry about birth control again.
Cons: It’s possible to reverse the procedure, but it’s not common. It is considered permanent, so make sure you’re certain. Also, there is some healing time after the procedure, and it’s important to use birth control for at least the first 20 sexual experiences after the surgery.