Choosing the right contraception can have huge effects on your health and wellbeing, so it isn’t a decision you should make lightly. Speaking to your health provider is key, but before you do that, it may help to know a bit more about the various options available to you, and the pros and cons of each.
Whether it’s oral contraception (know colloquially as “The Pill”), contraceptive rings, patches, injections or an IUD, there are several factors to consider before deciding. Read on to hear what the medical team at Fedhealth has to say.
If you’re planning a pregnancy in the near future, it would best to use a method that is easily reversible, like oral contraception or a patch. Options like the Mirena (an IUD) and vaginal rings have to be removed by a doctor, so are not quite as quick or simple to reverse.
How good are you at remembering to take your vitamins each day? Are you organised or a bit more scatter-brained? It’s important to use a contraceptive correctly and consistently in order to guarantee effectiveness, and it therefore makes sense that contraceptives which require less effort on the user’s part usually have a higher rate of efficiency, like an IUD.
Not all medical aids provide cover for contraceptives, so what you can afford should play an important role in your decision. For example all options with Fedhealth cover female contraceptives to some degree from the risk benefit, and not from the member’s day-to-day benefit. Fedhealth even covers the contraceptive pill if it’s taken for acne (on some of their plans), out of their chronic medicine benefit. If you don’t have medical aid and can’t afford to pay for contraception yourself, there are also free options offered at various government clinics.
The oral contraceptive, for example, needs to be taken daily, at the same time of the day, and every month you’ll probably have to fill in a prescription and go to the pharmacy. If you want a more convenient optional, with less hassle, then an IUD (once inserted) lasts several years.
Medication or pre-existing conditions
Before deciding which contraceptive to go on, you should disclose any medication you are on/pre-existing conditions you have, to your doctor, as this will influence your options. Oral contraceptives for example can enhance your risk of blood clotting, and if you’re a heavy smoker, this has a higher chance of occurring when on the Pill.
What are the benefits and downsides of each?
Overall benefits are that some contraceptive methods (the patch and oral contraceptives) help to regulate your periods and may result in lighter periods, which many women find easier to manage. One major downside is that condoms are still the only means of contraception that also provide reliable protection against sexually transmitted infections, so you do need to keep this in mind.
1. Oral contraception
- Benefits: easily reversible and relatively affordable.
- Downsides: you need to remember to take this evey day at the same time and fill in a prescription once a month. Also, some medication may interfere with their efficiency, like certain antibiotics.
- Benefits: you only need to change this once a week – bonus!
- Downsides: It is visible on your skin, and some people don’t like that.
- Benefits: You need to have one injection every 8 or 12 weeks, so it’s a bit more convenient.
- Downsides: some users have reported slight weight gain and disrupted periods.
- Benefits: These last approximately five years and so once they’ve been inserted by a doctor, you don’t have to do anything else.
- Downsides: initially you may have irregular periods and there is the possibility of pain/discomfort, which usually resolves after the first few months.
5. Vaginal ring
- Benefits: This is easy to insert and remove and lasts for 21 days.
- Downsides: This may not be a suitable option if you don’t feel comfortable inserting it though, and it can also cause temporary side effects such as vaginal irritation or spotting between periods.
All in all, there are many contraceptive options available to you, so you should be able to find the one that fits you and your unique lifestyle and body. If you have any questions or concerns, speak to your health provider.