There are a number of hormonal contraceptive options available to women who want to avoid unplanned pregnancies. These range from oral combined contraceptives that are taken throughout the month, to hormonal patches and rings that are replaced at varying intervals. Overall, hormonal contraception has become the most popular form of pregnancy protection for women globally due to their safety and effectiveness – but millions of women are still uncertain as to the benefits and exactly which contraceptives to choose. And unfortunately as a result, they often don’t protect themselves adequately against unwanted pregnancies when engaging in sexual activity.
As a recent news article from MSNBC.com highlighted, a survey conducted in the United States has suggested that nearly 42% of women who were unmarried and between the ages of 18 and 29 said they knew "little about birth control pills". In addition, a whole third of those who took part, while understanding that contraceptives were beneficial, did not know the specifics about which to use.
This poses a significant question toward healthcare providers and sexual health educators. Sexually transmitted infections aside, where condoms are still the only preferred method of protection, avoiding falling pregnant should be the most discussed topic being presented. This is especially the case when you have a reversible contraceptive method proven to be almost 100% effective.
But why isn’t the message getting through? It would be completely unfair to cast the stern eye of “questioning” on these institutions alone, because education starts at home as well. Parents should be giving their children guidance on these matters and helping them protect themselves. Especially since it’s estimated that the first sexual encounter girls will have is under the age of 17. And while there are a multitude of reasons why parents may choose not to do so, realistically they are doing them a disservice.
Having as much information as possible at hand will only serve to help women make the choice of protecting themselves against pregnancies easier. If between that decision there are any personal preferences or religious beliefs that falls into place, that’s a separate matter. The key here is information, information and more information.
True. Women have been safely using contraceptives for decades and in addition to offering protection against pregnancies, they can decrease the risk of ovarian and cervical cancers.
False. There are two forms of orally taken pills: combined pills and mini-pills. The former contains two artificial hormones which are used to prevent pregnancy and are both naturally found within the body. The latter pill only contains progestogen, one of the hormones, and is designed for women who have a lower tolerance to oestrogen.
False. All contraceptives are only effective in conjunction with proper usage. Each will carry instructions which, when followed, should ensure maximum protection. The reason these other options exist is that some women may find it easier to take a daily pill or find the same for applying a patch every week.
False. Hormonal contraceptives only protect against pregnancy. Condoms and other forms of barrier protection can provide safety against STIs but are not guaranteed to stop the spread of a virus or infection.
True. Many of the oral contraceptive pills provide further benefits in terms of helping women with acne and painful periods.
The most important thing women can do when considering a form of hormonal contraception is to consult their doctors or pharmacists. They will be able to provide information, guidance and counselling for you as well as the most effective form of birth control should you want to use one. Don’t leave your protection up to chance and planning alone, hormonal contraception is the most effective way to avoid unplanned pregnancies.
If you have any questions or comments, don’t be afraid to post them below. Maybe we can all help each other by providing our own insight into this topic!