Contraception: Pros & Cons – Part 2

Posted by SVAKOM 08/06/2022 0 Comment(s)

Content warning! Brief mention of sexual assault & resources. Sections with this content will be marked with `*` at the start of the sub-header so it can be avoided.

 

There are many different tools available to prevent pregnancy when having sex. It is important to acknowledge that each one has its own benefits, set-backs, and reliability. The clear majority of contraceptive options available are primarily for use by people with a uterus, this post will mainly focus on those available options.

 

This is part 2 of 2 detailing the pros & cons different birth control methods offer. For part 1 click here.

 

Hormonal Injection


Photo by RF._.studio

 

As the name implies, the Hormonal Injection is an injection taken to prevent pregnancy. It is taken every 12-14 weeks and comes in two variations; Depo-Provera; Depo-SubQ Provera 104 Injection. Both variations provide the same level of protection against pregnancy, with the only major differences being injection location and hormone level.

 

Depo-Provera must be injected into muscle (either the buttock or upper arm), while the Depo-SubQ Provera 104 variant is injected under the skin using a smaller needle – it “contains 31% less hormone than the original Depo-Provera shot at 104mg of medroxyprogesterone acetate” (source: Very Well Health)

 

Pros:

 
  • Highly Effective
  • Does not contain estrogen
  • Can reduce/stop periods
  • Allows for spontaneous sex
 

Cons:

 
  • Can cause side effects
  • Periods can last longer
  • Requires regular visits to a doctor
  • Does not prevent STIs
 

(sources: Health Direct,NHS Official Site,Planned Parenthood)

 

Hormonal Injections offer more freedom than Birth Control Pills making them slightly more accessible to those who often forget to take medication. They are effective at preventing pregnancy and once stopped, after a short amount of time, the ability to conceive should return to normal.

 

* Morning After Pill (Emergency Contraceptive)


Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

 

The Morning After Pill is a form of emergency contraception designed to be used after the possible exposure to unprotected sex or assault. Sometimes referred to by the brand name Plan B, the Morning After Pill acts to prevent pregnancy by “delaying or preventing ovulation”. (Source:Mayo Clinic)

 

For the Morning After Pill to be most effective, “Ideally you should take it up to 12 hours after you’ve had unprotected sex”. The effectiveness of the Morning After Pill lessens the longer you wait. (source: Your Life)

 

Pros:

 
  • Effective at preventing pregnancy
  • A good back-up if something goes wrong
 

Cons:

 
  • Contains a high dose of hormones
  • Can cause side-effects
  • Less effective after 24-hours
  • Ineffective once a fertilized egg has implanted
 

(Sources: Mayo Clinic, Your Life, Medscape).

 

The Morning After Pill should always be treated as a last resort. It is effective at preventing pregnancies when accidents occur, or someone has been the victim of assault.

 

If you have been a victim of assault here are some resources that may help you:

 
- RAINN (sexual assault confidential hotline; online & offline)
- Safe Horizon (provides advice and help when dealing with sexual assault)
- 1 in 6 (offers support and guidance for male identifying victims of sexual assault; this site uses some outdated gender language).

Spermicide


Photo by Daniel Thomas

 

Spermicide is more of a supplementary method of birth control most effective when used in conjunction with other methods such as condoms and diaphragms. Used alone Spermicide has a relatively high failure rate and isn’t effective at protecting against STIs (source: American Pregnancy Association).

 

When using Spermicide, you should look into the best pairings for the most effective protection against pregnancy as well as ensure you read the instructions carefully to ensure correct usage. There are 6 different types of Spermicide to choose from; Spermicidal foam; Contraceptive film; Contraceptive sponge; Creams and gels; Contraceptive inserts, tablets, or suppositories; Spermicidal jelly. (Source: Very Well Health)

 

Pros:

 
  • Fairly cheap
  • Can be bought over the counter
  • An effective secondary measure
 

Cons:

 
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • Side effects can increase risk of STIs & HIV
  • Messy
  • High failure rate if used alone
 

(Source: Planned Parenthood)

 

Spermicide can cause side effects which lead to irritation in/around the vagina which can provide easier pathways for pathogens/bacteria. Spermicide should be thought of as an extra measure you can take to ensure effective protection against pregnancy.

 

* Diaphragm


Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

 

The Diaphragm is available in two types – the titular Diaphragm and the Cap. Both variations work in a similar manner with differences primarily being the shape.

 

When using a Diaphragm it is important to get the correct size and “you need to use it with a gel that kills sperm (spermicide)” (source: NHS). By creating a barrier blocking the entrance to the cervix/womb, the Diaphragm prevents sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing an egg.

 

Pros:

 
  • Puts you in charge of contraception
  • Can be placed whenever convenient before sex
  • Only requires application when you want to have sex
 

Cons:

 
  • Must be used with Spermicide to be most effective
  • Requires visiting a Doctor/Nurse for sizing
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • May cause cystitis (a bladder infection)
  • Must remain inside the vagina for a minimum of 6-hours after sex in order to be effective
 

The best way to find out if a Diaphragm is the right option for you is to visit a medical professional you trust. The Diaphragm gives you complete control over contraception and mitigates the risks of “stealthing” – a form of sexual assault where a sexual partner removes a condom without your consent, usually in secret (see above for resources that may help if you have experienced any form of sexual assault) – but should be used with both a condom and spermicide in order to be effective and prevent against STIs.

 

(Source: NHS)

 

Contraceptive Ring


Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

 

Contraceptive Rings “are soft plastic rings that contain two hormones – estrogen and progestogen.” (source: Better Health)

 

Remaining inside the vagina for a maximum of 3 weeks, the Contraceptive Ring works in a similar way to the Birth Control Pill and provides birth control without needing to receive injections, minor surgery, or taking oral medication.

 

Pros:

 
  • May reduce period intensity/regularity
  • Highly effective birth control method
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • Isn’t affected by sickness (i.e. vomiting)
 

Cons:

 
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • Can cause irritation/infections
  • Must remember to change it
  • May cause spotting/bleeding at the beginning
  • Can be uncomfortable
 

(Source: NHS, Healthline)

 

Contraceptive Rings are a good option if you have an aversion to taking oral medicine/tablets and offer contraceptive control. As with all forms of contraceptive, it is advised to use condoms as well to protect against STIs.

 

This concludes our series on Contraception, we hope this information has been helpful. Remember to always consult a medical professional before changing to/starting a new form of contraception. There are many different choices available to prevent pregnancy for whatever reason and remember that you never need to justify or defend your decision to use birth control – know your body and seek out the most suitable method for you!