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The Five Best Methods of Birth Control

August 5th, 2014 | By: Sydney Loney
Our handy guide to birth control will help you find the best fit for your family

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The Five Best Methods of Birth Control

Overwhelmed by your birth control options? Whether you’re taking a brief hiatus from baby making, or have all the kids you need, our handy guide will help you find the best fit for your family. Here’s a look at the best in pregnancy prevention:

The Pill: How safe is it really?

Celebrating 51 years combating conception, the pill is one of the world's most prescribed medications. “The pill has come a long way,” says Dara Maker, family physician at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “The hormone dose has decreased by almost 50 percent, so there are fewer side effects.” Most women still worry about weight gain and mood swings, but you shouldn’t feel any different on the pill than you did off it, she says.

Plus, the pill comes with extra perks. For one thing, you can manipulate your periods if you don’t like menstruating every month, says Roey Malleson, clinical professor of family practice at the University of British Columbia. And the pill can help clear up acne, lighten your periods and protect you from cancer. “One year on the pill gives you 15 years worth of protection from endometrial and cervical cancers, reducing your risk by 50 percent, and decreases your risk of ovarian cancer by 80 percent,” she says.

On the downside, the pill does increase your risk of blood clots and shouldn’t be taken by women who’ve had a stroke, estrogen-dependent cancer (breast or ovarian), active liver disease, high blood pressure, or who are over 35 and smoke.

There are two types of birth control pill:

1. Estrogen and Progesterone

What it is: “When you take both hormones, the only difference is in the delivery system,” says Maker. The pill is swallowed, the patch is applied to the skin and the ring is inserted into the vagina.

How it works: Prevents ovulation and thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm out.

Pregnancy risk: Between 92% and 99.7% effective.

Convenience: The pill is taken daily, the patch can be stuck anywhere (except your breasts) once a week, and the ring is inserted for three weeks.

Best for: Women under age 35, within certain health perimeters

Side effects: Irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, headaches and nausea for a few months in some women.

Price tag: About $30 a month.

Good to know: It can take six months for you to begin ovulating and regain fertility once you’ve stopped using the pill, patch or ring.

 

2. Progesterone (aka Depo-Provera)

What it is: An injection of progesterone.

How it works: Prevents ovulation and thins the lining of your uterus.

Pregnancy risk: About 99.7% effective.

Convenience: You need to see your doctor every three months for the injection.

Best for: Women who can’t have estrogen, including nursing mothers.

Side effects: Irregular bleeding and weight gain of up to five pounds. About 50 percent of women stop having periods. It can take up to a year to become fertile again.

Pricetag: Usually covered by insurance.

Good to know: Progesterone can lead to bone density loss, which improves when the injections are stopped.