Birth control and contraception

Choosing the right birth control for your life and body isn’t always easy. There is a lot that nobody tells you about birth control, including possible negative impacts on your mood, weight and libido from the pill, for example, or vaginal irritation from vaginal rings. Many of us don’t even know exactly how we get pregnant.

Types of birth control and contraception

Birth control comes in four main forms: physical barrier methods, hormonal methods, IUDs and natural birth control.

Condoms stop sexually transmitted infections as well as babies, but hormonal and IUD methods just protect you from an unwanted pregnancy.

Natural birth control methods use the menstrual cycle and other interference to avoid pregnancy.

Another option is sterilisation (tubal ligation), also known as ‘having your tubes tied’. A tubal ligation means the fallopian tubes that would otherwise facilitate the egg and sperm meeting are closed off to block passage of both egg and sperm.

Physical barrier birth control

As the name suggests, a physical barrier creates a blockade between your fertile egg and the live sperm, during sex.

Condoms also stop most penis or semen-borne bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites from entering your vagina (or entering the penis, from your vagina), but diaphragms and sponges do not offer this protection.

Hormonal birth control

There are plenty of hormone-based pills, patches, rings and so on available from your doctor via prescription, with each preventing ovulation. No egg released means it’s impossible for fertilisation to occur, thus no babies.

Each hormonal birth control has its own unique formulation of hormones, since a pharmaceutical company cannot patent regular versions of hormones – only slightly molecularly different versions of hormones.

This is why some hormonal contraception will suit you better than others. While the core of that is about money, it also means that you can try different hormonal birth control with varying effects on your body – some will feel better than others.

Types of hormonal birth control

Natural birth control techniques

The two main methods here are cycle charting and the pull-out or withdrawal method. 

How to decide which birth control is right for you

First you need to figure out whether you need to be protected from bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, or just pregnancy. You can use more than one method of birth control, like be on the pill while also using condoms, or charting your cycles and using a condom during fertile times.

If no babies is the only goal, then you have all the options. If you need to be protected from infections, you need to get good at using condoms.

Condoms

Skins: condoms made from sheep intestine

Sheep intestine condoms, known for their natural feel akin to real skin, have gained popularity for those seeking a hormone-free birth control option. While they offer unparalleled sensitivity and are biodegradable, it's crucial to note that they do not protect against STIs. These condoms, a throwback to ancient practices, are

Understanding and using the female condom

Female condoms, often overlooked and misunderstood, offer a unique and empowering method of contraception and STI prevention. With advancements from their initial market introduction, these devices now provide a comfortable, latex-free alternative to traditional male condoms, with added benefits such as the ability to insert prior to sexual activity and

Contraceptive alternatives to the pill

While the contraceptive pill is a popular choice for many, it's not the only option. This article explores various alternatives, from IUDs to fertility awareness methods, detailing the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking for a hormone-free option or something long-term,

Latex allergy and condom allergy

Latex allergy, increasingly common due to higher exposure, can cause severe reactions, particularly from condom use. Symptoms range from irritation and swelling to anaphylaxis. This article explores the causes, symptoms, and management strategies for those affected by latex allergy, highlighting the importance of awareness and prevention in everyday products like

Condoms

Condoms, often viewed as a barrier to pleasure, are essential for preventing STIs and unwanted pregnancy. This article explores the nuances of male and female condoms, their importance, and offers practical advice on choosing the right type and using them correctly. From understanding the need for condoms despite the reduced

2016 Chilean health alert: faulty Kaiju condoms found

In 2016, Chilean health authorities issued a warning about potentially faulty Kaiju condoms, distributed for free in family health centres, due to concerns over breakages linked to small sizes. An investigation into three batches, totalling 1.7 million condoms, is underway, focusing on issues possibly related to incorrect storage.

The Pill

The oral contraceptive pill

The oral contraceptive pill is a popular method for preventing pregnancy and managing hormonal fluctuations. While it offers benefits like managing PMS, acne, and conditions like PCOS and endometriosis, it also comes with potential drawbacks such as affecting libido and altering the gut and vaginal microbiomes. This article delves into

Using the regular pill as emergency contraception

In situations of unprotected sex, the oral contraceptive pill can serve as an emergency contraceptive, similar to morning-after pills. A comprehensive list from Princeton University details the effectiveness of various brands when used within 120 hours post-intercourse. This guide covers the dosage and timing for both dedicated and regular oral

Study: post-BV-treatment sex life and contraceptives use matters

A study reveals the impact of sexual activities and hormonal contraceptive use on the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) post-treatment. Findings suggest that consistent partner, condom use, and the type of contraceptive can significantly affect recurrence rates, with oestrogen-containing contraceptives offering a protective effect.

Withdrawal bleeding

Withdrawal bleeding occurs when you stop hormonal birth control, differing from a real period as it doesn't involve ovulation. This article explores the distinctions between withdrawal and breakthrough bleeding, the rationale behind the 7-day pill break, and its potential risks, including pregnancy. It also touches on the benefits of tricycling

Synthetic hormones in contraceptive pills and rings

This article provides a comprehensive guide on the various synthetic hormones found in contraceptive pills and rings, aimed at assisting individuals in making well-informed choices regarding their contraceptive methods. The detailed table included offers a clear comparison of the hormonal components in different contraceptive options, facilitating a better understanding of

Contraceptive alternatives to the pill

While the contraceptive pill is a popular choice for many, it's not the only option. This article explores various alternatives, from IUDs to fertility awareness methods, detailing the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking for a hormone-free option or something long-term,

PCOS: Why don’t I just take the pill to fix my hormones?

The combined oral contraceptive pill, commonly known as 'the pill', is a popular treatment for PCOS and hormonal imbalances, but it comes with significant side effects and does not address the root causes of these conditions. This article delves into how the pill works, its impact on hormones, potential risks,

The patch

The Morning After Pill, Plan B

There are options for stopping the process of pregnancy before it really gets very far, with emergency contraception available in many countries from pharmacies.

If you can’t get hold of emergency contraceptive pills, you can use regular ‘the pill’ pills – read the chart to figure out how many pills of the brand you have to take.

Using the regular pill as emergency contraception

In situations of unprotected sex, the oral contraceptive pill can serve as an emergency contraceptive, similar to morning-after pills. A comprehensive list from Princeton University details the effectiveness of various brands when used within 120 hours post-intercourse. This guide covers the dosage and timing for both dedicated and regular oral

Poland: free electronic prescriptions for emergency contraceptives from WoW

In response to Poland's 2017 decision to limit access to emergency contraception by requiring a doctor's prescription, Women on Web is now providing free prescriptions from a European doctor to ensure women's access to the morning after pill. This initiative supports women's rights and health by facilitating access to emergency

Contraceptive Rings

Synthetic hormones in contraceptive pills and rings

This article provides a comprehensive guide on the various synthetic hormones found in contraceptive pills and rings, aimed at assisting individuals in making well-informed choices regarding their contraceptive methods. The detailed table included offers a clear comparison of the hormonal components in different contraceptive options, facilitating a better understanding of

Contraceptive alternatives to the pill

While the contraceptive pill is a popular choice for many, it's not the only option. This article explores various alternatives, from IUDs to fertility awareness methods, detailing the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking for a hormone-free option or something long-term,

The Nuvaring contraceptive device

The Nuvaring is a vaginal contraceptive device offering over 99% effectiveness. However, it may cause side effects like low-grade inflammation and dry discharge, impacting comfort and sexual pleasure. It's important to weigh its benefits against possible adverse effects.

Withdrawal bleeding

Withdrawal bleeding occurs when you stop hormonal birth control, differing from a real period as it doesn't involve ovulation. This article explores the distinctions between withdrawal and breakthrough bleeding, the rationale behind the 7-day pill break, and its potential risks, including pregnancy. It also touches on the benefits of tricycling

Legal: NuvaRing lawsuit for no warnings about dangers of blood clots

In 2014, a lawsuit was settled against the makers of NuvaRing, accusing them of failing to disclose the contraceptive's risk of causing blood clots. Despite a $100 million settlement with 1,700 users, the pharmaceutical companies did not admit any wrongdoing. This case highlights the importance of being informed about the

Emergency Contraception

The Morning After Pill, Plan B

There are options for stopping the process of pregnancy before it really gets very far, with emergency contraception available in many countries from pharmacies.

If you can’t get hold of emergency contraceptive pills, you can use regular ‘the pill’ pills – read the chart to figure out how many pills of the brand you have to take.

Using the regular pill as emergency contraception

In situations of unprotected sex, the oral contraceptive pill can serve as an emergency contraceptive, similar to morning-after pills. A comprehensive list from Princeton University details the effectiveness of various brands when used within 120 hours post-intercourse. This guide covers the dosage and timing for both dedicated and regular oral

Poland: free electronic prescriptions for emergency contraceptives from WoW

In response to Poland's 2017 decision to limit access to emergency contraception by requiring a doctor's prescription, Women on Web is now providing free prescriptions from a European doctor to ensure women's access to the morning after pill. This initiative supports women's rights and health by facilitating access to emergency

Diaphragm

Diaphragm contraceptive devices

Diaphragm contraceptives, though considered old-fashioned, offer a stable barrier against pregnancy with a 90-95% effectiveness rate. They require careful fitting, maintenance, and understanding of usage to prevent potential side-effects and ensure reliability. This comprehensive guide covers everything from how to use, care for, and the potential risks associated with diaphragm

Implants

Implanon contraceptive implant

Implanon is a hormonal contraceptive implant that offers up to three years of birth control. While effective for many, it's important to weigh its pros, such as minimal maintenance and breastfeeding compatibility, against its cons, including potential hormonal side effects, risk of ectopic pregnancy, and impact on metabolism. Understanding its

Contraceptive alternatives to the pill

While the contraceptive pill is a popular choice for many, it's not the only option. This article explores various alternatives, from IUDs to fertility awareness methods, detailing the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking for a hormone-free option or something long-term,

Sterilisation (tubes tied)

Getting your tubes tied – female sterilisation – tubal ligation

Tubal ligation is a permanent form of birth control that blocks the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. It's a significant decision with a low failure rate and no impact on periods or libido. While it offers freedom from the fear of unexpected pregnancy, it's crucial to be sure as reversals

Sea sponges

Contraceptive sponges

Contraceptive sponges offer an invisible method of birth control but come with challenges such as a high failure rate and potential reduction in sexual pleasure. This article delves into their effectiveness, the use of natural sea sponges as an alternative, and the practical aspects of using and removing contraceptive sponges.

Depo Provera injection

Depo Provera contraceptive injection

Depo Provera, an injection containing progestin, prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation and is 99% effective. However, it may affect fertility and has possible side effects including menstrual changes and weight gain.

The Depo Provera and BV – help or hindrance?

The Depo Provera contraceptive shot, while offering birth control benefits, may hinder the treatment of bacterial vaginosis (BV) by altering the vaginal microbiome, reducing lactobacilli, and thinning epithelial cells. This article delves into the complex relationship between Depo Provera (DMPA) and BV, highlighting the importance of oestrogen in maintaining vaginal

Contraceptive alternatives to the pill

While the contraceptive pill is a popular choice for many, it's not the only option. This article explores various alternatives, from IUDs to fertility awareness methods, detailing the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking for a hormone-free option or something long-term,

Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

There are two types of IUD – hormonal and non-hormonal (also known as the copper IUD). The hormonal IUD releases hormones into the area around it in your uterus, which causes a reduction in your period blood volume.

You may not get any periods. The hormonal IUD is also smaller than the copper IUD, so can be better tolerated for many women. Both have their pros and cons, but which choice is best for you will depend on your body.

Study: The impact of the Mirena IUD on vaginal bacteria – good, bad or indifferent?

A recent study explored the impact of the Mirena levonorgestrel-based hormonal IUD on vaginal microflora, revealing minimal to negligible effects. This comprehensive study involved sampling from Caucasian women over several weeks, identifying 355 bacterial species with Lactobacillus crispatus being the most prevalent. The findings suggest that the Mirena IUD does

Contraceptive alternatives to the pill

While the contraceptive pill is a popular choice for many, it's not the only option. This article explores various alternatives, from IUDs to fertility awareness methods, detailing the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking for a hormone-free option or something long-term,

Withdrawal Method

The withdrawal method (also known as the pull-out method or coitus interruptus)

The withdrawal method is where the man pulls his penis out of the vagina before he ejaculates. This means the sperm doesn’t have a chance to make its way to the egg, and no pregnancy can occur.

This method of birth control has been in use since time began, and has been extremely controversial for one very good reason: it sometimes works and sometimes definitely does not work.

But how do you know if it will work for you or not?

Well, that’s not super easy to answer because it turns out that every individual man is either able to successfully pull out, or he is not (see precum study). Now, we don’t mean he is unable to pull his penis out before he ejaculates – let’s assume he’s got that covered – but it means the pre-ejaculate fluid of each man is either fertile or it is not.

While you are having sex, some pre-ejaculate fluid escapes the man’s penis, and enter the vagina. This is normal. Each man is either fertile in this stage, or he is infertile in this stage, and this remains constant throughout his life. This has as much to do with his plumbing as anything else, and there is nothing you can do to change his status as either a pre-ejaculate-fertile man or a pre-ejaculate-infertile man. That is, able to successfully avoid pregnancy using the pull-out method or not.

The only way to figure out a man’s status as a potentially successful puller-outerer is to either undergo testing (which is likely to cost a lot as part of fertility testing) or to take your chances. Many couples can successfully go their whole relationship without getting pregnant using this method alone. The pre-ejaculate fertility is the reason why.

Aunt Vadge: how fertile is pre-cum?

A concerned individual inquires about the possibility of pregnancy from pre-ejaculate on the outside of a condom. Aunt Vadge reassures, explaining the low likelihood due to birth control and spermicidal condom use, but emphasizes the importance of consistent birth control usage and understanding the nature of pre-ejaculate, which may contain

Cycle charting

Charting your cycles is a valid method of birth control, so long as you know exactly what you’re doing!

Usually the minute you learn when you ovulate – and the associated fun bits that go with it – you want to experience that all the time, while also enjoying sex without contraception when it’s safe to do so.

To keep your natural cycle, the only options available to you are a copper IUD, barrier methods, or natural birth control.

How to track your menstrual cycle and identify ovulation

Understanding and tracking your menstrual cycle and ovulation can be empowering. By observing the character and sensations of vaginal fluids, you can chart your cycle and identify fertile days without complex measures. This article guides you through the steps of cycle tracking, interpreting your findings, and understanding the significance of

Feeling your cervix for signs of ovulation

Understanding the position, texture, and moisture of your cervix can provide valuable insights into your ovulation cycle. By learning how to feel your cervix at different times of your cycle, you can become more in tune with your body's fertility signals. This article guides you through the process of checking

Termination (abortion)

If you do get pregnant, you may be able to get an abortion, but how easy, safe, and cheap this is will depend very heavily on where you live.

Women on Waves provide online medical consultations and mail abortion drugs to women who can’t get an abortion from their own country or area. Contact them for confidential help.

EVENT PASSED: Barco de aborto en México – 23 de abril – Abortion ship in Mexico – until April 23 2017

The Women on Waves ship, in collaboration with local and national organizations, has arrived in Mexico to provide women with free, legal medical abortions up to nine weeks of pregnancy. This initiative addresses the urgent need for safe abortion services in a country where legal access is limited and often

Abortion (pregnancy termination)

Abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy, using either medical or surgical techniques, ensuring a safe and legal option for women. With a success rate of about 98% for medical abortions and various surgical options available up to the second trimester, understanding the process, safety, and emotional aftermath is

Should I get an abortion?

Deciding whether to have an abortion involves myriad personal factors and societal implications. This article delves into the complexities of making such a decision, offering guidance, support options, and debunking myths around the process. It emphasizes the importance of individual choice, the non-judgmental nature of the decision, and the various

What’s new in abortion rights around the world for 2018

2018 brings significant updates in abortion rights worldwide, with Ireland moving towards legalisation and the UK reconsidering criminal sanctions. However, challenges persist in the US and the Netherlands, highlighting the ongoing struggle for accessible abortion services.

EVENT PASSED: Abortion drone flying to Northern Ireland 21 June 2016, protest at 2.30pm in Belfast

On 21 June 2016, an abortion drone flew from Ireland to Northern Ireland, carrying abortion pills to highlight and protest against the restrictive abortion laws in both regions. This act of solidarity was organized by several groups, including Alliance for Choice and Women on Waves, aiming to showcase the violation

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