A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO CONTRACEPTION

Women use contraception for various different reasons – the most common indications are for birth control, regulating menstrual cycles, reducing heavy or painful periods, and controlling hormonal imbalances in conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Before initiating contraception, it is always advisable to have a detailed discussion with your doctor. She can help you decide which form of contraception best suits your health profile and lifestyle.

1.) Combined Oral Contraceptives/Oral Contraceptive Pill

Known by most as “the Pill”, this is the most frequently prescribed form of contraception.

Administered as a daily tablet, the Pill contains 2 female hormones – estrogen and progesterone.

It works by preventing ovulation, and is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, if used consistently and correctly.

Its other advantages include:

  • regulation of menstrual cycles
  • reduction of excessively heavy periods
  • relief from period-related pain
  • improvement in acne

However, some women do experience adverse effects with the Pill. See: Morning after Pills Singapore

Some of the most frequently reported effects include nausea, headaches, intermittent spotting/bleeding and breast tenderness.

2.) Hormonal Contraceptive Patch

The patch is a useful alternative for women who find it difficult to take the Pill every day.

It contains the same hormones as the Pill, and is also 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The patch is worn on the lower belly, upper arm, buttocks, or upper chest (away from the breast), and is changed every 7 days.

Each cycle requires the use of 3 patches over 3 weeks, followed by a patch-free week, during which regular bleeding will occur.

3.) Progesterone only Pill/ Mini-Pill

For those who cannot use the combined oral contraceptive pill, or women who are breastfeeding, the progesterone-only pill might be an alternative solution.

4.) Hormonal Injections

For some women, depot hormonal injections are a convenient alternative to daily tablets. Administered in the deltoid (upper arm) muscle once every 3 months, the injection contains synthetic progesterone that inhibits ovulation.

It is >99% effective as a contraceptive method and is also suitable for women who are not eligible to use the combined oral contraceptive pill, and for breastfeeding moms.

However, some of its disadvantages include a longer delay in return to fertility and irregular bleeding.

5.) Birth Control Implant

Like the depot injection, this is another medium-term contraceptive option.

Instead of an intramuscular injection, the implate is a small rod-shaped implant that contains synthetic progesterone.

The implant can provide 3 years of contraception and is 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy. Additionally, its birth control properties begin within 24 hours of insertion, if implanted within the first 5 days of mensus.

The insertion can be done easily in your doctor’s office during a regular consultation. The skin in your inner upper arm will be numbed with an injection of local anaesthetic, before the rod is implanted.

The implant can also easily be removed when necessary, and fertility usually returns quickly after removal.

6.) Intrauterine devices (IUD)

IUDs are a form of long term contraception and are available as progesterone-releasing, or plain copper IUDs.

Depending on the type that you choose, it can provide up to 3 – 5 years of protection.

IUDs are small T shaped frames that are inserted via the neck of the womb (the cervix), and sit inside the womb cavity, preventing ovulation and implantation of an egg in the womb lining. Iud Singapore

Prior to insertion, your doctor may recommend a pregnancy test and STD tests, to minimise complications with your IUD.

7.) Barrier Contraception

While all the of the methods listed above are extremely effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly, none of them protects against sexually transmitted diseases.

Using barrier contraception, in the form of male or female condoms, can help to reduce your chances of an STD. However, condom failure rates are high.

Reasons for this include slippage with incorrect withdrawal, incorrect timing or placement of condom, breakage and inappropriate lubricant use. Pap Smear Singapore

Your chances of falling pregnant with condom use can be as high as 15%, making it a less effective method of contraception compared to other methods.

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