Which contraceptive should you use?

Sexual Wellness


Contraceptives will only prevent unwanted pregnancies if they're used properly and consistently. If you're relying on a method that you often forget to use, that has unwanted side effects, or that is difficult or bothersome to use, you're likely to stop using it or not to use it all the time. That's why it's important to use a method of birth control that suits you and your lifestyle.

When you're thinking about what kind of contraceptive to use, make sure to consider all the details. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Which will work best with my schedule and habits?
  • Are there extra health benefits?
  • Which have possible unwanted effects or features?
  • Am I protected against sexually transmitted diseases?
  • Which kind is the most appropriate for my current state of health or medical history?
  • How effective is it?

Barrier options

There are several kinds of birth control that work by keeping the sperm from reaching the egg. These normally have to be applied or inserted just before intercourse and removed afterwards. They include:

  • diaphragms
  • cervical caps
  • vaginal sponges
  • male condoms
  • female condoms

Most of these come in several varieties, and it may be necessary to try a few of any given kind before you find one that has the right fit and sensation. Each has advantages and disadvantages. For example, condoms are the only type of birth control that also offer reliable protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Whichever barrier option of birth control you choose to try, make sure that you are familiar and confident on its proper insertion and use. Your doctor and pharmacist are excellent educational resources for this sort of information.

Be aware that using oil-based products like lubricants, or other products like powders or perfumes may decrease the barrier method's effectiveness or cause irritation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.


Perhaps the best-known method of birth control is "the pill." These pills are taken once a day. There are many different kinds of birth control pills available. Some use a single hormone and some use a combination; some have lower doses and some have higher doses of estrogen; some have a 28-day cycle of pills and some have 21 or 84 pills; and some have a 7-day period without pills, and others can have less. Talk to your doctor about which would be best for you. You may need to try a few before you find one you feel perfectly comfortable with.

Long-term options

There are forms of birth control that last a long time and only need to be changed very infrequently. If you have a hard time remembering to take a birth control pill every day or if you're not planning on starting a family in the near future, these birth control options may suit you better:


  • contraceptive patch (changed weekly)
  • hormonal injection or implants (received once every 3 months)
  • vaginal ring (used every 4 weeks)
  • progestin-releasing intrauterine systems (changed once every 5 years)
  • progestin-releasing implant (changed once every 3 years)


  • copper intrauterine devices (lasts 30 months to 10 years)


For people who have no intention of having children in the future, surgery can be a viable option.

For men, the usual operation is a vasectomy. This operation involves cutting or blocking the tube that carries sperm from the testes to the penis. It can now be done in a very short time using local anaesthetic and requiring only a small puncture in the skin, with no stitches needed.

For women, the usual surgery is a tubal ligation: the fallopian tubes are cut, sealed, tied, or blocked, making a permanent barrier between sperm and egg. This is usually done via laparoscopy, using a small incision; the woman can normally go home the same day, but it is a more complicated operation than a vasectomy. Both of these methods are designed to be permanent, but an operation called reanastomosis that unblocks or reconnects the tube(s) can restore fertility in roughly half of all cases.

Other Methods

Other, "natural" forms of birth control include the use of withdrawal, calendar tracking, basal body temperature and cervical mucus. It's important to discuss with your doctor which method is most appropriate for you. Depending on your individual circumstance, you may need more than 1 method.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Contraception

Emergency contraception

Sexual Wellness


If you forget to use birth control or your usual method has failed, emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after you've had sex.

Emergency contraceptives work by preventing fertilization and implantation, but they do not end a pregnancy after a woman is already pregnant. That is why it is important to use emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

Emergency contraception is designed as a "last chance" measure, but it can't protect you from sexually transmitted infections. While it isn't meant to be relied upon as your primary method of birth control, it is an effective backup in circumstances such as the following:

  • You had sex and used no other form of birth control.
  • Your usual form of birth control failed – the condom broke or slipped, your diaphragm slipped out of place or was removed too soon after sex, or you missed your birth control pills.
  • You were on medication that may interfere with your oral contraceptives.
  • You were sexually assaulted.

Depending on how long it has been since you had unprotected sex, there is more than one option for emergency contraception. The better-known method is hormonal, which can be used up to 72 to 120 hours (3 to 5 days) after unprotected sex, depending on the specific type used, and involves taking pills. Emergency contraception is also available as an intrauterine device.

Emergency contraception medication is available in these forms:

Hormonal pills:

  • There are emergency contraceptive products available without prescription at the dispensary counter in your local pharmacy. This option involves taking 1 or 2 progestogen pills, depending on the specific product, up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. Remember to speak to your pharmacist as there are factors such as body weight that may impact the effectiveness of this medication.
  • Another form, known as the Yuzpe method, is available by prescription from your doctor. These are combination estrogen/progestogen pills. Take the pills in 2 divided doses, as directed by your doctor. Compared to the other hormonal emergency contraception methods, this option is less effective with more side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. This method can be used up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex.
  • A medication called ulipristal may be used to prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse. The medication works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation and may require a prescription from your doctor.
  • With these methods of oral emergency contraception, your menstrual cycle may be altered a bit (periods may come earlier or later and be heavier or lighter; you may also experience some spotting); however, a regular menstrual cycle should still be expected at the normal time. If your period is more than a week late or if it does not does not come within 3 weeks after taking the emergency contraception pill, you should do a pregnancy test or see your doctor.

Intrauterine device (IUD):

  • Copper IUDs can be used up to 7 days after unprotected intercourse and is very effective. It can also be used as an ongoing method of contraception. However, it may not be as readily available as some of the other emergency contraception options.

Emergency contraception should not be used regularly as the only method of preventing pregnancies (except for the copper IUD). Discuss with your doctor what regular forms of birth control are right for you.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Contraception

Contraceptives: what about your health?

Sexual Wellness


Your method of birth control can actually do more than just protect against pregnancy. It may also affect things such as your appearance and your risk of certain kinds of cancer.

Health benefits

Some methods of birth control have benefits for your health.

Clearer skin: Studies have shown a connection between the use of some birth control pills and decreased amounts of acne. This is because some pills can moderate levels of hormones called androgens, regulating the production of oil in the skin. Some are even approved by Health Canada to treat acne.

Protection from certain diseases: Hormonal forms of birth control are associated with protection from some diseases affecting women. These include benign ovarian cysts, endometrial (uterine) cancer, ovarian cancer, iron deficiency (anemia), and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Relieve symptoms of certain conditions: Hormonal forms of birth control help improve symptoms of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). They can also reduce the volume of menstrual flow and the painful cramps that often accompany your period.

Protection against STIs: Condoms provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Depending on the nature of your sexual relationship, this protection can be vital, even if you use another form of birth control, because other forms of birth control do not provide protection from diseases such as HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papilloma virus (associated with genital warts and cancer of the cervix), and syphilis.

Things to watch out for

Your state of health is an important consideration when deciding on or during the use of any birth control method. Certain birth control methods may affect some medical conditions, and medication for some conditions may change the effectiveness of some birth control methods.

Antibiotics: The antibiotic rifampin reduces the effectiveness of birth control pills. As for other antibiotics, there is less conclusive evidence that they decrease the effect of oral contraceptives. This effect may only occur in a small number of women. If you're worried, adding a barrier method (e.g., male or female condom) is a good idea if you're taking antibiotics.

Latex allergy: Most male condoms are made of latex. People who are allergic to latex can consider such options as condoms made from polyurethane. Lambskin condoms are also available, but they offer less protection against STIs. If protection from STIs is not an important issue, there are many contraception options, ranging from sponges to IUDs to pills.

Medical conditions: Women with epilepsy need to determine the proper form of birth control with their doctor and neurologist. Many anti-seizure medications may reduce the effectiveness of hormone-based birth control methods by speeding up the breakdown of these hormones in the liver. Including a barrier method will reduce the chance of pregnancy.

Women who meet any of the following criteria should talk to their doctor before deciding on a birth control method:

  • have/had breast cancer
  • have diabetes and associated damage to small blood vessels
  • have a family history of stroke
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a history of blood clots in a vein (deep vein thrombosis) or lung (pulmonary embolism)
  • have liver disease
  • have migraine headaches
  • are a smoker over the age of 35

While taking the pill, watch out for early danger signs described by the acronym ACHES:

  • Abdominal pain (severe)
  • Chest pain (severe)
  • Headaches (severe)
  • Eye problems
  • Severe leg pain

If you experience any of the above symptoms, inform your doctor immediately.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Contraception

Other forms of hormonal contraception besides "the pill"

Sexual Wellness


Most people think of birth control pills when they think of hormonal contraceptives, but did you know that they come in many forms?

Birth control patch: The birth control patch is a convenient alternative to the birth control pill. It is applied directly to the skin and is changed once per week; it delivers the 2 hormones that are in regular birth control pills through the skin. They contain both estrogen and progesterone.

Contraceptive rings: Contraceptive rings are made of flexible plastic materials. They are inserted into the top of the vagina and held in place by the muscles there. A ring releases a low dose of hormones over a 3-week period and gives a high degree of contraceptive protection. After the 3 weeks, the ring is taken out. A new ring is then inserted a week later. They contain both estrogen and progesterone.

Implant: Hormonal implants consist of a short rod that contains progestin only and are another alternative to birth control pills. They are inserted by a health care professional into the upper arm and release low amounts of progesterone over a span of 3 years.

Injection: A hormonal injection of progesterone only is also available. It is given once every 3 months and may be more appropriate for certain women than combination hormonal products (e.g. women who are breast-feeding, who cannot tolerate estrogen, etc.). Many women stop having their periods while on this medication and it may take a while for them to come back. Therefore, it may not be the best choice for women who are planning to get pregnant in the near future.

Intrauterine system: Another hormonal option besides the pill is the intrauterine system. These can last up to 5 years, are very effective at preventing pregnancies, and are a good choice for women who are not planning to get pregnant in the near future and have difficulty using other forms of contraception correctly. Some women may also stop having their periods while on this medication.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Contraception