Most women in America are on birth control. Experts say that 62% of us are using some form of birth control right now. Shocking huh? What is even more surprising is that most of us are not aware of all of the benefits.
Here’s the deal:
Birth control if used correctly prevents pregnancy. But birth control can be used for more than just baby proofing your life. Here are seven useful facts about birth control that may surprise you.
1. Sexual intercourse is not a requirement
I’ve had patients come into my office ashamed or embarrassed to ask for birth control. Gurrl, bye! Their fear that I would judge them or even presume that they are sexually active actually saddens me. The reality is many women are often introduced to birth control because shark week has them saddled with killer cramps, heavy flow or non-stop bleeding.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider about starting birth control. You don’t have to be subjected to pain and discomfort.
2. The pill is not the only method
The pill is used most frequently but it’s not the only method of birth control available. So many of my patients are convinced that they want to get on the pill. What they don’t realize is being on the pill takes real commitment. I’m talking about taking it every day at the same time! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discouraging you from this method; I’m just saying there are other options. The IUD and Nexplanon require less maintenance. May I add these methods are super effective against pregnancy, like 99% effective.
Want to know the best part?
These devices last for several years. Once in place, you don’t have to do anything else to prevent pregnancy. #issawin!
3. Avoid an untimely periods
As women we’re used to our menstrual cycle so the thought of skipping a period or not having a period at all may seem strange or even a little unnatural. But not having a period can be helpful in certain cases. Think about it… No painful cramps or heavy bleeding during your amazingly planned vacation. Plus all the money you’ll save on feminine products! What’s not to love? Please speak to your healthcare provider. Let them help you figure out the best method for you.
4. Not all the side effects are bad
Oftentimes you will hear about the negative side effects of birth control. You know them… bloating, weight gain, breast tenderness uhh! I’m convinced the lifestyle benefits of birth control haven’t been hyped enough. Those who suffer from heavy periods could end up anemic. Hormonal IUD’s can be used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. Some women will see lighter periods and shorter periods 6 months after placement. Some women even stop having periods after a year.
5. You may have to try a few methods to find the right one
My patients often ask me to recommend a birth control method.
There is no “best method.” You should choose the method that best fits your lifestyle. If you are a world traveler always crisscrossing time zones, you may want to consider a birth control that matches your life of freedom and flexibility.
6. You may need emergency contraception in your lifetime
Even the best plans fail sometimes. You get a text to come over for some “Netflix and chill.” You both agree to use a condom but the condom breaks.
Emergency contraception is a safe way to prevent pregnancy. The copper IUD can be used within 5 days after unprotected sex. It’s the most effective emergency contraception but the morning-after pill is used more often. These pills can also be taken within 5 days after having unprotected sex.
Bottom line: If you use emergency contraception correctly, it makes it much less likely that you’ll get pregnant.
7. Condoms are often overlooked
Birth control helps with a lot of things but they do not stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI). There has been a recent increase in STI rates; especially among young women. Gurrl, don’t become a victim of the untreatable super gonorrhea. Yup, that’s a real thing. Look it up.
My point is if you are sexually active use condoms…. Always. Your vagina and reproductive parts will thank you.
If you’re using birth control to prevent pregnancy, respek! Just know that thwarting a baby-bump isn’t the only reason your bestie, girlfriend or sister may have a trusty pack of blue pills in her Chanel purse.
Janelle T. King is a Registered Nurse, freelance writer and sexual health aficionado. You can follow her on Instagram at @janelletking or on Twitter @WellRNKing