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Birth Control Alternatives

Many women place a high value on avoiding unintended pregnancies. According to the recent research, most of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are using some form of birth control. The most typical kind is permanent surgical sterilisation, which is followed by birth control pills. There are a few other excellent alternatives, though:

  • Implantable gadgets
  • gadgets used intrauterine (IUDs)
  • A hormonal patch
  • genital rings
  • The popularity of non-pill contraception has grown recently, and for good reason.

It's crucial to understand that prescription birth control does not shield users from sexually transmitted illnesses like gonorrhoea or HIV, regardless of the type of birth control they select. That level of protection is only available from condoms. The most popular kind of birth control available with a prescription is the pill. It contains the female sex hormones progesterone and oestrogen (an absorbable form of progesterone). Additionally, the pill can be used to alleviate painful periods and severe bleeding. For many women, a pill is a fantastic option, but it's not right for everyone. Maybe you dislike taking medications, or maybe you don't want to be responsible for remembering to take them every day. Some folks prefer a hormone-free option. When a patient is sick, throwing up, or taking other drugs, worrying about a pill's effectiveness is not enjoyable. Here is a brief and straightforward guide to various birth control methods, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

1. Condoms

Birth Control Alternatives

The only birth control method that also protects against Sexually transmitted diseases is the condom, and there are more types available than the classic penis-applied condom. It's true that condoms are an excellent method of contraception, but since they aren't always utilised, it's a good idea to have a backup plan like emergency contraception available. The majority of condoms are made of latex, a kind of rubber. Planned Parenthood advises against using oil-based lubricants with latex condoms as they can harm the material and reduce its efficacy. Instead, always use water-based lubricants. Lambskin and non-latex plastic condoms are available if one or more partners are allergic to latex. Lambskin condoms do not offer STI protection though, so keep that in mind. In addition to preventing partners' genitalia from coming into direct touch, traditional condoms are made to cover the penis and collect semen.

Pros: Condoms made of latex or plastic offer STI protection, are simple to find in shops, and are frequently provided for free at health facilities.

Cons: Their effectiveness of condom in preventing pregnancy is just about 85%.

  • Internal Condoms

These are sometimes referred to as female condoms in casual conversation. Internal condoms are worn inside the vagina and function similarly to condoms put over a penis: They stop sperm from getting into contact with an egg.

Pros: They shield women against pregnancy and STIs because they are made of soft plastic.

Cons: Their pregnancy prevention effectiveness is just 79%.

2. Discs and cervical caps

Birth Control Alternatives

A shallow, flexible cup, similar to a menstruation cup, is what a diaphragm is and how it functions inside your cervix. Diaphragms are not condoms, therefore they do not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, but when used properly, they do stop sperm from reaching an egg. They function similarly to cervical caps.

Pros: Diaphragm effectiveness surpasses condoms by 88 %.

Cons: For the best protection, diaphragms should be used in conjunction with spermicides, according to Planned Parenthood.

3. Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

Birth Control Alternatives

IUDs are tiny, flexible T-shaped pieces of plastic that are inserted into the uterus's bottom. As a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC), it is renowned for being simple to use and effective. Levonorgestrel intrauterine systems (LNG IUDs) and copper IUDs are the two main forms, and the FDA has approved five different brands of each. People may not experience regular menstruation if they use some IUDs. If used within five days of unprotected intercourse, three IUD brands-Paragard, Mirena, and Liletta- can also be utilised for emergency contraception, according to Planned Parenthood.

  • Metal IUD

Paragard is a hormone-free IUD that is covered in copper and causes an inflammatory reaction that is poisonous to both sperm and eggs.

Pros: It includes its high level of effectiveness (above 99%), durability, and lack of maintenance requirements.

Cons: You may not be able to get it out without making an appointment with your doctor if you have uterine abnormalities like fibroids. It can increase the number of menstrual days, the heaviness of the flow, and the cramps.

  • Hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Levonorgestrel intrauterine system is a type of hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). LNG IUDs release a tiny amount of progestin every day and can be removed earlier or later depending on the brand.

Pros: It includes years of longevity, a greater than 99% success rate, and a lack of need for recurrent doctor visits or prescription refills.

Cons: Having a device within the body isn't for everyone, and pulling it out is a little more difficult than stopping a pill or removing a ring. For people with uterine anomalies, it could not be an option.

4. Hormonal Contraceptives

Estrogen and progestin are the two hormones that hormonal contraceptives use to prevent ovulation in the ovaries (releasing an egg). These hormones also thicken the lining of the cervical cavity, preventing sperm from ascending to the cervix. When paired with other risk factors like smoking or being over 35, the oestrogen in various hormonal contraceptives may, for some individuals, increase their risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, and stroke.

  • Birth Control Pill
Birth Control Alternatives

There are numerous possibilities for the pill, but they can all be divided into two groups: progestin-only pills and combo pills that include both progestin and oestrogen. Combination pills are the most popular, but you may decide which type is best for you with the help of your doctor. It's also important to keep in mind that while you take birth control pills every day regardless of the type, some must be taken at the same time every day in order to be successful.

Pros: You can control your menstrual cycle, ease cramps, and even get rid of acne using the pill. When used properly, it's roughly 91% effective.

Cons: It provides little protection from STIs, and taking it requires commitment.

  • Birth Control Patches
Birth Control Alternatives

The food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Twirla and Xulane as a Birth Control Patches. Although people don't have to remember to take a pill every day, patches also contain hormones that prevent ovulation. Hormones are released into your skin through patches that are worn on the arm, belly, or buttocks. During one menstrual cycle, you wear three different patches, changing out the old one for a new one every week, and then you have your period in the fourth week.

Pros: It is 100% effective and can help you control your cycle.

Cons: It does not work as an STI preventative, and you need to remember to refill your prescription each month.

  • Birth Control Rings
Birth Control Alternatives

NuvaRing and Annovera are two FDA-approved products that have slightly differing lifespans before needing to be changed. Both are tiny, flexible rings that sit within your vagina and continuously release hormones until you take them out the week before your menstruation. Importantly, you never remove a ring while having sex.

Pros: It has the same effect on your cycle as the pill and is 91% effective. It can also be more convenient.

Cons: Neither product offers STI protection, and products with silicone or oil can harm the Annovera ring.

  • Birth Control Shots
Birth Control Alternatives

A progestin injection is administered once every three months with the Depo-Provera shot, sometimes known as "Depo."

Pros: For some people, it may be more convenient than a pill or device. The fact that it just contains progestin may make it safer for some people. The shot is "invisible" if you don't want people to know that you are using contraception.

Cons: It doesn't prevent STIs and needs to be administered four times a year at a medical facility.

5. Birth Control Implants

Birth Control Alternatives

During the course of three to five years, a small rod implanted beneath the skin of your upper arm delivers progesterone to prevent pregnancy. There is always the opportunity to finish it sooner. Implants are a type of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) that is popular for its effectiveness and convenience of use.

Pros: It is 99.9% successful in preventing pregnancy. It lasts for three to five years and contains only progestin, making it potentially safer for some people.

Cons: It doesn't stop STIs and not everyone wants a gadget implanted in their body.

6. Gels, Creams, and Spermicides

There are various kinds of nonhormonal gels and lotions that use active substances to kill sperm or prevent it from reaching an egg in other ways, like altering the pH of the vagina. Each time before sex, they are normally applied.

  • Spermicide Gel, Cream, or Lube

Spermicides are frequently used in conjunction with other birth control methods like condoms or a cervical cup because they are only around 72% effective when used alone. Spermicides, which are available over the counter, contain chemicals that slow down sperm and make it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg.

Pros: It's accessible without a prescription or a doctor's appointment.

Cons: It only works about 72% of the time and is best used in conjunction with another type of birth control.

  • Contraceptive Gel
Birth Control Alternatives

Phexxi is a prescription gel put into the vagina prior to sex; it is neither a hormone nor a spermicide. According to Planned Parenthood, it increases the vagina's acidity, which hinders sperm movement and makes it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. Its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy is approximately 93 percent when used exactly as instructed, but since most people don't, its actual effectiveness is just 86 percent. Use it separately from the ring; it functions best when combined with another method of birth control.

Pros: If people are looking for a nonhormonal birth control alternative, this can be a suitable choice.

Cons: It requires a prescription and must be carried with you at all times so you can use it. Infections with STIs are not prevented. You have to reapply after it only lasts for a little over an hour.

  • Birth Control Sponges
Birth Control Alternatives

A small, round, soft, plastic sponge called the "Today Sponge" is placed deep within the vagina just prior to sex and then withdrawn. An egg and sperm are separated by the sponge, which also has spermicide within. However, they are not the most effective method of birth control. Sponges can be used alone or as a backup plan in addition to condoms.

Pros: It may be a good choice for those who believe a gadget or drug is not appropriate for them.

Cons: You need to use it every time you have sex and it only works between 76 and 88 percent of the time. It does not stop STIs.

7. Emergency Contraceptives

While most people may think of Plan B as the only type of emergency contraception following unprotected sex or condom failure, certain IUDs can now be used in that way for those who are not on a long-acting form of birth control, "if not getting pregnant is the aim." If you have had unprotected sex within five days, you should use emergency contraception as soon as possible. Furthermore, it shouldn't be used as a regular method of birth control but only in dire circumstances. Emergency contraception can be given by a medical clinic in sexual assault cases.

  • Tablet of levonorgestrel
Birth Control Alternatives

Levonorgestrel pills are sold over the counter and are most frequently referred to as Plan B. The pills' pregnancy-preventing effectiveness ranges from 75 to 89 percent when used within three days.

Cons: Although there are other emergency contraception options and it is still safe for people of all weights, research suggests that the standard dose of 1.5 milligrams (mg) may not be as effective if you weigh 155 pounds or more, which really limits who can rely on it.

8. Surgical Options for Birth Control


Birth Control Alternatives

An excellent option for those who are certain they do not want to become pregnant in the future is surgery, which is a permanent (and, in rare circumstances, reversible) type of birth control. Cutting the tubes that transfer sperm to semen is known as a vasectomy, which is an outpatient operation. The tubes are cut by making a little incision in the scrotum. You remain awake throughout the process because it is done under local anaesthesia. Any living sperm that is still in the body after a vasectomy will be washed out after 15 to 20 ejaculations. After then, vasectomies are almost completely successful in preventing conception.

Pros: It is permanent and maintenance-free, and it prevents pregnancy almost completely.

Cons: It can't always be reversed, which might be a con for some people.

Tubal Ligation:

Birth Control Alternatives

A permanent surgical birth control method for those with uteruses is tubal ligation, also known as having your "tubes tied." It can be done at any moment, even during a caesarean section. The clamps placed around the fallopian tubes do not influence the menstrual cycle, but they do stop an egg from descending from the ovaries, where it can be fertilised. Tubal ligation is an outpatient operation like a vasectomy, however, it does require general anaesthetic or a spinal block (if done during a C-section).

Pros: It is permanent and maintenance-free, and it is more than 99 percent effective at preventing conception.

Cons: It takes surgery and is permanent, which may not be the best option for everyone.

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