Know your birth control options.
As women, there are many different options that we have for birth control. They range from the pill, IUD, condoms, and abstinence to more invasive procedures such as tube tying, or our male partner being snipped. We as humans have the ability to prevent pregnancy, and some of us choose to delay when we start families because of other choices in life like school, career, and/or family obligations.
Birth control pills were first introduced into the medical community in the early 1960s by Carl Djerassi, and it remains the favorite choice of women. The National Center for Health Statistics puts out its annual report with the top products being the pill, condoms, and IUDs. When it comes to birth control pills, there are many options such as monophasic, biphasic, triphasic, and quadraphasic.
Monophasic contains the same amount of estrogen and progestins in each pill. Biphasics change the levels of estrogen and progestins once a menstrual cycle. With triphasics, the hormones change every week for the first three weeks. Quadraphasics change four times per cycle. Each one of these have their own pros and cons. The more changes in the hormones the more difficult it becomes if pills are missed so the timing of the pills is very important. There are birth control pills that contain iron in them for the week that the woman is on her period. With birth control pills we can have cycles monthly, seasonally, or even just once a year. Often, pregnancies that happen while on birth control happen because pills are started late.
Condoms give us pregnancy protection along with sexually transmitted disease protection; this is the only one that gives us this other than abstinence. However, condoms do have expiration dates, and are delicate. Some of my patients are allergic to what the condoms are made of, or the chemicals/spermicides that are on/in the condoms. For condoms, to be effective, have to be used every time, and they have to be put on correctly.
IUDs are often used for people who don’t want to take a pill daily and/or are looking for more of a long-term reversible birth control option. There are two main IUDs: a hormonal, and a non-hormonal IUD. For some women the hormonal IUD works really well while other people will have issues with the progestins found in it. Usually IUDs are safe for 5-7 yrs.
Before I recommend birth control pills, I want to do some genetic testing on the patient. Women with a Factor V Leiden mutation will be at an increased risk of forming a clot, or venous thromboembolism, while taking birth control. There is an increased risk of Factor V Leiden mutation in people of caucasian descent. For patients with this mutation that want to prevent pregnancy I will encourage them to look at other birth control options.
As I was doing research on birth control I came across an interesting article from Design & Trend. Professor Carl Djerassi “insists that the next generation of parents will see an even greater life-changing trend take root.” He thinks that by 2050 the majority of the babies born will be born via IVF. What concerned me is his final quote: “for them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 percent.” I hope that we do not go this way; I hope we remember the importance of natural approaches to reproduction.