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November 2, 2011 12:04 am

Miss Meghan: Birth Control Part 2

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I recently have become sexually active with my boyfriend. How do I decide which birth control method is right for me?

-Indecisive

Dear Indecisive (continued from previous article),

Now that I’ve covered condoms, the pill, the patch, the shot, and the ring, let’s move on to diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, IUDs (intrauterine devices) and Implanon.

Diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges are between 84% and 94% effective when used correctly, and I wish more women would go back to these methods because they do not affect the hormone levels in your body. However, many folks see these as “dated” and they do require some planning of sexual activities. You need to get fitted at your gyno for a diaphragm, but they last a while. These methods take some planning on the woman’s part because they are typically inserted a few hours prior to sexual activity.

Finally, we come to IUDs and Implanon. Depending on your insurance, coverage of these items varies. The script for Implanon currently retails around $800, not including the price of the “surgery” from your gyno to implant the small plastic chip into your arm. IUDs are either plastic or copper, and the plastic IUD and Implanon affect the levels of progesterone in your body.

We suspect that the copper IUD neutralized the PH balance of the uterus so any egg that is fertilized does not plant onto the uterine wall. Some women report cramping, spotting, or prolonged periods, especially during the first six months. However, others report that while on these they no longer get a period, which over the course of the five to seven years that the device is in means that you are saving a bundle on tampons or pads. Up until recently, IUDs were only considered an option for women who had already given birth at least once or who were over the age of 25, but nowadays most gynos are more than willing to provide IUDs or Implanon for sexually active 18- to 25-year-olds as well.

Surgery is also an option, but is costly and permanent. Vasectomies (men), tubal ligations (women), hysteroscopic sterilization (women), and hysterectomies (women) are all surgical procedures. If you have made the decision to never have children, this may be a great option. Many women and men below the age of 35 find it difficult to convince a doctor to perform the procedure for fear that the patient will later change his or her mind. If this is the choice for you, please work on creating a convincing argument for it.

Now, I hope providing you with all these options hasn’t made the decision any harder than it already was. Choosing the method right for you depends on your memory skills, cost, comfort with your body, insurance, and what will work best for your body. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a good gynecologist and a communicative partner to discuss your options with.

Sincerely still enjoying every time I see that boat,

Miss Meghan

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