Birth control – pill, patch or implant?
With birth control options expanding faster than Angelina Jolie’s brood, choosing the best birth control option is getting tricky. Find your perfect pill, implant or patch with our birth control personality inventory.
Hands up if you’ve been on the same birth control for more than 10 years and keep your hands up if the reason for that is you’ve never thought to find out if there’s anything that suits you better?
According to a survey by Merck, 40 per cent of women aren’t actually happy with their method of birth control, but surprisingly, over half of those admit they haven’t done anything about changing it. But there are good reasons to review the contraception you’re on, including cost, convenience and whether being on something different may actually make you feel healthier and less tired. For those of us with an iron deficiency, for example, losing anything between 20 and 80 ml of blood per cycle could explain why we feel so damn tired when the crimson tide comes in each month.
GPs now agree, however, that it’s perfectly safe to reduce or even stop your period altogether by taking the Pill continuously, which may reduce iron loss as well as putting an end to ‘nice’ and ‘time of the month underwear’, embarrassing leaks during workouts and, horror upon horror, taking tampons out with you on a night out.
The fact is, most of us stick with the first birth control either our doctor (or our mate) recommends, but what suited us as teenagers on the Pill – to get rid of our acne, of course – may not suit our lifestyle now. Dr Louise Farrell, vice president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says picking a birth control that suits your personality will not only better fit your lifestyle, it will significantly reduce the odds of finding yourself up the duff when you don’t want to be.
“Most women are on contraceptives for a long stretch of time, so choosing one that suits your personality makes a lot of sense. There’s no point relying on the Pill, for instance, if you’re the type of person who forgets your mum’s birthday!”
On a more serious note, Dr Farrell says we could even be putting our health at risk by choosing the wrong birth control. “Risk factors change as you get older, so the brand of pill you are using may be good in your early 20s but too high in oestrogen in your 40s, when your risk of breast cancer increases.”
QUICK QUIZ: Discover your birth control personality
1. When you’ve got a headache, what do you do?
A. Knock a paracetamol or three back with a glass of sav blanc
B. Make a peppermint tea and book some reiki
C. Go straight to your GP in case it’s a brain tumour
D. Check your basal temp and refer to your diary to see whether it’s due to ovulation
2. How are you about visiting your ob-gyn?
A. If he’s hot, you love it!
B. You prefer talking to your body through meditation
C. No! What if they ask you to appear on Embarrassing Bodies?
D. Fine. You think it’s good to know exactly where you’re at with your body at all times
3. How would you deal with being pregnant?
A. Never gonna happen to me!
B. When the time’s right, it will be a blessing and wondrous thing
C. I probably wouldn’t relax until the day it was born
D. I’m not going to get pregnant until I’m 33 and have been married two-and-a-half years
4. How do you feel about your period?
A. As long as it comes, you’re happy
B. You embrace it as a natural function of a woman’s body
C. You worry if it doesn’t arrive on the exact date it should
D. You use the Pill to control it so it doesn’t interfere with your life in any way
5. What’s your approach to casual sex?
A. The more the merrier, especially after a few drinks
B. You prefer to be in a monogamous relationship
C. No one would like my jelly belly, and what if they think I’m no good in bed?
D. Great, as long as you know where it’s going afterwards
Mostly As: The pleasure seeker
You’re a carefree hedonist. You’re so confident and sexy, you’d scare Russell Brand off! Contraception’s a necessary evil for you, and if you could only trust a man to do it, you’d happily have him take on the responsibility.
Mostly Bs: The purist
An aversion to toxins in your body, fear for rubber plantations in South-East Asia and a belief that sperm-have-rights-too is all well and good but it doesn’t leave many options open to stopping babies.
Mostly Cs: The worrier
Your approach to contraception is more complicated than finding Tom Cruise a new wife. Foreplay for you is putting on three condoms and a femidom, and any post-sex spooning is ruined by worrying thoughts of what ifs (the pill failed…the double condom split…)
Mostly Ds: The control freak
Your mini pill sits in a little box with the days of the week on it and you have been known to set your alarm to make sure you take it at the same time every day. You enjoy sex, as long as it’s in your bed, on your terms, and you decide what, when and how often.
Next: Breast care in your 20s
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