Contraception 101- What you need to know.

Updated: Jul 1



I get asked a lot about the different types of contraceptions for women available, and no wonder. It's a bit of a minefield with all the different choices.


So which method of contraception is right for you?


Well, to know the answer you need to way up the pros and cons, risks and benefits of each option, and how they specifically relate to you. Only you can really make the decision ultimately, so being informed is a good place to start.


Contraceptions option can be broken down into two categories- hormonal contraception and non hormonal contraception.



Hormonal Contraception Options-


Hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) "The Mirena"

What it does:

The hormonal IUD, such as the Mirena (the most commonly prescribed in Australia) contains a synthetic hormone called Levonorgestrel- a type of progestin. The hormone is released into the system slowly.

Progestin is designed to thin the lining of your uterus, so a fertilised egg cannot implant into the lining, making you pregnant. For this reason some women experience lighter periods while using the hormonal IUD.

It can also cease ovulation by suppressing the production Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH) which control the release and maturation of eggs. It can also thicken cervical mucous, making it hard for sperm to swim up to the egg if one is released.


The known risks:

- There is a small risk of perforation of the uterus upon insertion

- Hormonal contraception comes with an increased risk of developing breast cancer


Noted Side Effects:

-Headaches

-Irregular periods

-Breast Pain

-Weight gain

-Acne

-Mood swings

-Abdominal pain

-Nausea


Birth Control Implant (Implanon & Nexplanon) "The Rod"


What it does:

This form of hormonal birth control is a small rod inserted into the upper arm under the skin. It works like the hormonal IUD in that it releases progestin slowly into the body.


The known risks:

- Pain and swelling in the arm upon insertion.


Noted Side Effects:

-Headaches

-Irregular periods

-Breast pain

-Weight gain

-Acne

-Emotional lability (exaggerated changes in mood)

-Abdominal pain

-Nausea


The oral contraceptive pill. "The Pill"


What it does:

Most OCPs contain amounts of synthetic hormones (oestrogen and progestin) that shut down the normal production of hormones, to stop ovulation from occurring.


The known risks:

The pill can interfere with other medications.

There is a known increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, altered gut health, UTIs, increased blood pressure. For a full list of risk factors click here. It is not recommended that you take the pill if you are over 40 years old, have an already increased risk of stroke, or you smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day.


Noted Side Effects: -Nausea

-Headaches

-Weight Gain -UTI's

-High Blood Pressure

-Breast Pain



Non-Hormonal Contraception Options-


The non hormonal IUD- Copper IUD


What it does:

The Copper IUD works by releasing copper ions into the uterus which stop sperm from swimming and reaching the egg. It doesn't prevent ovulation, and doesn’t interrupt natural hormone production.


The known risks: -Like with the hormonal IUD, there is a small risk of perforation of the uterus upon insertion

-Like with the hormonal IUD, there is a small risk that the body rejects the IUD and expulsion occurs

-There is a risk of heavier, more painful periods when using the copper IUD.


Noted Side Effects:

As mentioned above, the most common side effect it heavier, more painful periods, which may or may not correct itself. Some women note their periods return to normal, others don't.


Fertility Awareness Method (FAM):


What it does:

FAM is a way of tracking your cycle to understand when your fertile window is occurring, so you can avoid sex in and around that window, or use another form of contraception at that time.

The Risks:

This requires some education, and if not used effectively increases the risk of pregnancy.


Side Effects:

There are no side effects because it's a completely natural form of contraception, however there is that big risk of pregnancy unless you are really aware of your fertile window and understand the concepts.



This list of options is obviously not a list of every type of contraception, but it does cover some of the more popular forms. It's important you know the facts about the contraception you decide to use. If you're unsure or confused about which one to chose. I can help! Book in for a consultation and I can talk you through your options and help you make an informed decision.


Book a consult.

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