The pre-conceptions of contraception

Clara Caslin

Everyone knows about condoms and the pill, but could one of these lesser-known forms of contraception be right for you? 

The word Contraception is used to describe the tools we use to prevent pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The most common methods are condoms and the pill.

Condoms, including the internal condom, are a form of barrier contraception and are the only form of contraception that protects against most STIs.

According to mycontraception.ie, “the pill is the most widely used contraceptive method in Europe with 24 per cent followed by the male condom with 23 per cent”. They also reported that “79 per cent of women in Ireland are not aware of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)”.

(LARCs) are methods that are reversible, meaning it is possible to remove them and your fertility (ability to get pregnant) will return to normal. They are one of the most effective types of contraception, which do not have to be taken every day. This includes the hormonal coil (IUS), hormonal injection, copper coil (IUD) and implant.

The hormonal coil (IUS) is a small soft plastic device, which is inserted into the womb. This contains the hormone progestogen and takes about five minutes to insert by a doctor or nurse. It then lasts for three to five years and is more than 99 per cent effective.

The hormonal injection contains the hormone progestogen and is given by a doctor or nurse every 12 weeks. It is 94 per cent effective. The copper coil (IUD) is a small soft device with a copper thread or copper cylinders that is inserted into the womb cavity by a trained doctor. It can be left in for three-10 years (depending on the type). It is more than 99 per cent effective.

The implant is a small soft plastic rod containing progestogen that is inserted in your upper arm with minor surgery carried out by a trained doctor. The progestogen is released in small doses and can be removed at any time by minor surgery. It is more than 99 per cent effective and lasts three years.

There is also short-acting contraception other than the pill that is user dependent and needs to be taken on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. These options include the patch, the ring, the cap and the diaphragm.

The patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestogen. It sticks to the skin and can be put on the upper arm, stomach, thigh or buttocks. The hormones are released continuously into the bloodstream through the skin. You wear a new patch every week for three weeks followed by a week’s break. With perfect use the patch is over 99 per cent effective but because of women not using it correctly, it can be 91 per cent effective.

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped circle made out of rubber or silicone that is inserted into the vagina to stop sperm from entering the vagina. It must be inserted before sex and should be used with a spermicide. It must be left in for at least 6 hours after sex and no more than 24 hours. They are 94 per cent effective with perfect use.

The ring is a small flexible ring that contains estrogen and progestogen. It is inserted into the vagina by the woman and is kept in place for three weeks and then removed for a one-week break. After the break week, a new ring is inserted. It is 99 per cent effective with perfect use.

The cap is made of silicone or rubber, smaller than the diaphragm and it covers only the neck of the womb. In the beginning, it needs to be fitted by a doctor or nurse. It must be inserted before sex and must not be left in the vagina for more than 48 hours. The cap is 92-96 per cent effective with perfect use and when used with
spermicide – a sperm-killing but body-safe chemical that is available in gels.

Always consult a doctor you trust and research your options before choosing contraception.

Clara Caslin

Image Credit: Self.com