Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Luka Thalius and the Birth Control Conundrum pt. 1

I've talked about using condoms on this blog before, but they're not the only type of birth control/pregnancy prevention on the planet.

They're not?


That's right! In fact, there are about several different types of birth control out there. Let's take a look at them.


Abstinence
Ah, the dreaded abstinence!  The thought that one can actually decide to not have sex. Such an idea is ludicrous! But it does happen. Abstinence is the choice to refrain from having sex. Sometimes, religions require that you remain abstinent until marriage, so that might not be your choice. In some forms of abstinence, kissing and some light touching is fine as long as it doesn't lead to any intercourse.

I can not choose abstinence. I applaud those who can do it, but I honestly can't go more than a week or so.


With this in mind, abstinence is 100% effective against preventing pregnancy because there are no spermies getting to any eggs, and there's no penetration involved. There's also little to no chance of acquiring an STD or STI (Sexually Transmitted Disease/Infection).


You don't have to be a virgin to be abstinent. You can have sex, then decide it's not for you. It doesn't make you a prude, it means you're in charge of your sexual lifestyle. Embrace it!


Da Pill
I was on birth control pills for awhile, the Tri-Sprintec brand. They're pretty effective, when you remember to take them. That's one of few down sides to taking the pill: you have to schedule it. I forgot sooo much.

Yes, yes, but how do they work?


Birth control pills work by controlling ovulation (periods), and creating vaginal mucus. By doing these two things, it would be difficult for sperm to get through and enter the eggs. If there aren't any eggs there, there's nothing for it to latch onto. Likewise, the vaginal mucus becomes thick enough to stop any sperm from getting through, but not enough to gross out your partner. Specifically, the pills stops the pituitary gland from producing Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormones, which stop the process of dropping mature eggs.

Fuck yeah, science!

There are 3 kinds of combination pills - with estrogen, without estrogen, and extended-cycle.

Estrogen and Progestin are both female sex hormones.

With estrogen and progestin: The pill gives you a normal dose of estrogen and progestin, allowing your menstrual cycle to remain fairly regular, or even relieve heavy bleeding and bloating. 


Without estrogen (the minipill): This progestin-only pill doesn't change your menstrual cycle, it only thickens vaginal/cervical mucus and thins uterine linings (or endometrium, if you want to get science-y). This is a good pill for people dealing with diabetes, heart disease, blood clots, or are smokers. And if you've already had a child and are currently breastfeeding, they will not reduce the amount of milk you create.


Extended Cycle: This pill still prevents pregnancy when taken daily, but it also allows you to have your period once every 3 months.


Most birth control packs come with about 21-28 pills, they're approximately $15-$150, and some insurance companies cover them. Well, mine did, but I'm in Massachusetts.


Please remember to continue using condoms if you're taking the pill. Missed pills can be nerve-wracking, and you shouldn't just take the pill you missed with the pill you have to take at the same time. Try to use alternative methods to stay safe, just in case.




We still have a lot to look at. What are you waiting for? GERONIMO!




Da Patch:
The patch is like a pregnancy prevention band-aid, and it looks like one!

You place it on your skin for one week after your period begins, and it allows the body to soak up estrogen and progestin. Only one patch can be worn at a time. While on the patch, you may experience breast tenderness, missed periods, or spotting (light periods).


This is a good option for those who lead a busy life and can't be bothered with taking pills or shots. It's safe and convenient, and usually costs about $15-$80 a month.


For more info on the patch, go visit www.orthoevra.com





Implants:


Implants such as Implanon or Nexplanon are thin and flexible plastic pieces which are inserted into your upper arm, right under the skin *shudders* and releases progestin.

It prevents pregnancy for up to 3 years, however if you’re taking certain kinds of medication (for Tuberculosis, HIV, mental disorders, anti-seizures, and some herbal supplements), it will make the implant work less effectively. They’re about $400-$800.



While they’re good for women who are often busy, they can make your periods lighter or heavier in some cases, and are not recommended for women with breast cancer.



Diaphragm:
According to the Bedsider.org’s article on diaphragms:

“It looks like Meg Griffin’s hat on The Family Guy”

To which I laughed hysterically.

A diaphragm (which is the hardest word for me to bloody type!) is a shallow cup made of silicon that is inserted into the vagina with spermicide. It’s intended to cover the cervix, blocking any wandering spermies from the uterus. It must have spermicide to work properly.
This must be done by yourself, or someone you’re comfortable enough with (like your doctor, or partner) putting their hands up in yo’ bizz. It’s sort of like using a tampon, so it’s easy enough to manage without getting things lost or worrying about how far to put it in. It’s really the amount of comfort you have with your body.

Don’t use it if you have silicone or spermicide allergies, and don’t put it in there when you’re on your period, or else it really will look like Meg Griffin’s hat.

Some of the positive things said about the diaphragm are that both partners shouldn’t feel it during sex, it can be placed hours in advance, there may be brobdignagian amounts of sex with it in, it doesn’t affect hormones, and there’s little risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.

Some negative things said about it are that it can be knocked out of place by large penises/phallic objects or some sex positions, it can cause some vaginal irritation, frequent UTI’s, and difficult insertion.



NuvaRing - aka The Ring (no, not that horror movie with the girl and the television)
The ring is a 2” flexible ring that you insert into your vagina once a month to prevent pregnancy.
It's pretty easy to get with a prescription, and in some cases you might be able to get one through your community health center. It will cost anywhere from $15-$80.

As with most other forms of birth control, it will not prevent HIV/AIDS. 

In order to use this pretty ring effectively, you have to insert it into your vagina and up against the cervix. DO NOT go any farther than the cervix, as it will not work and will probably hurt. And if you can push it up that far, may I say...DAYUM!

Pros: Easy and relatively affordable birth control, DIY aspect, might need a little bit of lube, but no surgery or doctor's visit.
Cons: May cause blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart disease, ovarian cancer, gallbladder disease, liver tumors. Please don't smoke, breastfeed, or use drugs on the NuvaRing

There's a link below with more information. If you like it, then you should put a ring on it (it meaning your vajay?).





IUD (IntraUterine Device)
I'll be honest, I'm a bit biased. I love the IUD's! I have the Mirena version, and it's worked perfectly for me for the past 1-2 years that I've had it. What's great is that you can have unprotected sex without worrying so much about getting pregnant that you start acting like a hyena on crack. 

There are a few kinds here, but many more online -
Mirena* lasts up to 5 years (hormonal), thickens cervical mucus. Uses the mix of estrogen and progestin.
Skyla* lasts for up to 3 years, hormonal.
ParaGuard lasts up to 10 years (copper), doesn't change hormones at all.  

*Hormonal IUDs might reduce cramps and menstrual flow after some time, and can be used during breastfeeding. 
 
The way these nifty doodads work are that they block sperm from getting to the eggs. They're T shaped, and they push up against your uterus to keep spermies from tally-hoeing towards your ovaries.

They're inserted via a doctor within one visit, and you definitely will experience some pain, spotting, and cramps. Rarely, women will develop infections, but most complications can be treated. In severely rare cases, the IUD will slip out of the vagina. But should all go well, your cramps and pains will go away after a day, and you may start jumping into some pants (I don't advise literally doing this)! I would highly consider wearing a condom during sex, even if you have the IUD, and always check the "strings" a few days afterwards to be sure it's in place.

You may find that your sex life will improve and become more spontaneous because you don't have to be so concerned. Should you decide that babies are a sure thing in your future, you can have it taken out and start becoming pregnant right away. 



Sterilization (surgical & non-surgical)
 I'll be completely honest, I don't much like this method. It scares me a lot because it means scarring your body in such a way that you won't be able to have babies. I don't know, it just freaks me out. 

Anyway, this method is meant to be permanent, safe, and effective. There are several ways of doing this:

- Cutting the fallopian tubes
- Placing a small insert that causes scar tissue
- Tying the tubes
- Closing them with an electrical clamp
- Cutting and cauterizing 
- Placing a ring out it

As one might imagine, this is an expensive surgery that will result in discomfort afterwards lasting from 1-3 days. It's meant to block sperm from getting through the fallopian tubes altogether. 

Most surgeries can be done safely, but there are risks. It's completely possible that the tubes can reconnect. It also may cause ectopic pregnancies (pregnancy that develops outside of the uterus, fatal for the mother).

It lasts for life and doesn't effect hormones. It also doesn't cause symptoms of menopause, and you'll still have periods. This is an option one might want to consider if they don't want to have biological children, or feel that their children might be threatened or their health might be in danger (i.e. the parent has AIDS, might pass it along to the child, potential birth defects, etc).



Depo Shot
The Depo Shot is an injection that one gets within the first week of their period that lasts for up to 3 months. It's really easy to get (likely within 1-2 doctors visits. Which reminds me, I need to schedule mine...) It's about $35-$100 to get, potentially more for exam fees. Sometimes one's periods become lighter, heavier, or there's a change in sex drive.

It lasts for up to 3 months. It's just a shot of progestin that increases the cervical mucus. It works for as long as you continue getting it.

$35-$100 for injection, potentially more for exam fees. Otherwise, not so bad. 



FemCap
The FemCap is a non-allergenic cervical cap that's inserted with lubricant, much like the aforementioned diaphragm in part 1. It's reusable for one year, and is usually pretty comfortable. Ideally, it doesn't interfere with sex and can be a DIY project (kind of). Once inserted, it covers the cervix and stops any spermies from completing their achievement and gaining experience points in your uterus.
Since there's no surgery involved, one can easily get pregnant after it's removed. It can be acquired through your local family planning center (if you have one. I'm pretty pissed at those states without them and with "rape insurance", as if women are cars or something. Fucking idiots.), or the hospital. It's also made in the US, for those of you more patriotic readers!


I'm honestly not sure of the price, that's something that might have to be homework for you to do on your own. :)

Today Sponge
 Oh my gods, you guys. When I looked at this, I couldn't figure out what to think of it. It's funny, but useful, but weird...all of that.

Ahem, let me get back to the more professional atmosphere.

The Today Sponge is a sponge that has spermicide in it. After running it under water, insert it into the vagina against the cervix. It blocks sperm from getting through, and traps them in the sponge, instantly killing them. It only lasts for 24 hours and can't really be felt by either partner.
Oh, and it's held in place naturally by the vaginal muscles.

It's disposable, can be carried discreetly, and one can use it in the tub (just no water sex, okay? It will lessen the amount of spermicide in the sponge). 

Please don't use a tampon at the same time as the sponge. I don't even want to know what would happen there, as it shouldn't be worn during your period. 

It goes for $12-$18, and you can get them in packs of 3. 


Thanks so much for reading! All these pictures were found on Google Images. Check out the websites below for more cool information.


www.bedsider.org
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control-4211.htm




See you soon!

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