Many women find the use of contraception appealing for peace of mind and to enjoy a fulfilling sexuality. Here is some information on the subject.
Contraception: an important issue
History tells us that around the world and throughout the ages, women have tried a great number of contraceptive methods, many of which have proven to be highly questionable. For example, some writings tell us about the ancient use of oral potions, vaginal douches or vaginal suppositories containing substances that are dubious to say the least, and often toxic or dangerous, in order to prevent pregnancy.
Fortunately, today’s women can choose from a wide range of safe and effective options when it comes to contraception. The decision to use it is a fundamentally personal choice: a pregnancy―whether or not it is wanted―always has significant repercussions. Contraception is a topic that warrants women’s full attention, so they can make informed choices.
A wide range of options
Because the last few decades have provided a multitude of studies and discoveries, women can now choose among the following options:
- birth control pill (oral contraception)
- transdermal contraceptive patch
- vaginal ring
- injectable contraceptive
- male condom
- female condom
- cervical cap
- diaphragm, and
- intrauterine device (IUD)
Faced with so many possibilities, it can be difficult to make a choice. First, it is important to note that all of these methods are considered effective when used properly. Each one has its advantages and some drawbacks that you will have to weigh carefully, taking into account, among other things, your age, lifestyle, preferences, health and the medications you take.
It is advisable to have an in-depth discussion with an informed healthcare professional.
The right questions for the right decision
The following are some questions you should ask yourself to make an informed decision:
- Which method is more appealing to me?
- Which one best suits my routine and lifestyle?
- Do I feel able to use this method carefully, as recommended, to ensure maximum effectiveness?
- What is my personal situation (in a relationship, single, etc.)?
- Should I choose a method that also protects me against sexually transmitted infections(STIs)?
- What are the disadvantages of the method I have chosen?
- What are the side effects, if any?
- What are the instructions for use?
- If it is a hormonal contraceptive, how often is it used?
- oral contraceptive: taken daily
- contraceptive patch: changed weekly
- vaginal ring: changed every four weeks
- injectable contraceptive: an injection every three months
- How often would I like to be menstruated?
Don’t hesitate to ask many questions to the professional you are consulting.
Some important reminders
Here is some information that is good to know about the various contraceptive methods:
- For a contraceptive method to be effective, it must be used exactly as recommended. Improper use can lead to unplanned pregnancy.
- Condoms are the only method known to protect against STIs.
- Never use a condom or contraceptive medication after its expiry date.
- It is important to follow the manufacturer’s storage recommendations. Never expose a condom or medication to extreme temperatures. Do not leave them in the car, for example.
- If, for any reason, you have not followed the instructions for use, such as missing a dose of hormonal contraception, promptly speak to your pharmacist, who will tell you what to do.
Emergency contraceptive pill ("morning-after pill") is not considered a contraceptive method per se. If, however, you have omitted to use contraception or it has failed (for example, a torn condom), the morning-after pill can help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. It is most effective if used within 72 hours of intercourse. The "sooner the better" principle applies here. You must go to the pharmacy and, before prescribing and dispensing emergency oral contraception, the pharmacist will meet with you in a closed office, in complete confidentiality.
If you wish to begin hormonal contraception, be aware that the pharmacist may prescribe hormonal contraception for an initial period of up to 6 months. This can make your life easier by providing simplified access to contraception, so don't hesitate to discuss this with your pharmacist.
Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about contraception and the available methods.