Sex is an important part of any healthy relationship and contraception is perhaps one of the most thorough discussions that a couple will have, as it affects several aspects. Not only will different methods of contraception affect the pleasure of sex, but they will have a direct effect on you, as a woman.
So what are the choices when it comes to contraception? It is important to distinguish between natural and hormone-releasing contraceptives and know what risks or side effects are involved. Hormone-releasing devices, needless to say, affect the hormone balance in our bodies, and it is not uncommon at all to suffer moodiness and tiredness. It can affect cycles, periods and bleeding. Be sure to discuss in detail the pros and cons with a healthcare professional.
Intrauterine Devices have become very popular over the last decade and have proven themselves to be the most effective contraception method. But what is an intrauterine device and how does it work? There are two different types. The IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a small plastic and copper t-shaped device. It is medically inserted into the uterus by a doctor and it lasts for up to 5 years. Similar to the IUD is an IUS (Intrauterine System). The IUS is similar in shape and size and is also inserted into the uterus. It, too, lasts for up to five years. The difference is that the IUS releases hormones.
Most IUS devices release the hormone, progestogen, which is a class of steroid produced in the body. Another hormone-releasing IUS is the Mirena, which has gained increasing popularity amongst women. Different to the standard IUS, the Mirena releases a second-class synthetic version of progestogen, called levonorgestrel.
While these devices are proven to be more effective, they have been known to show side effects, some as mild as moodiness or discomfort, but some a bit more severe. Some of the side effects from the Mirena device suffered by women include:
- Devices embedded in uterine wall
- Uterine wall perforation
- Pelvic Inflammation
- Ovarian cysts
- Irregular bleeding
- Migration of the IUD into other organs
- Pregnancies and miscarriages
Mirena removal side effects have also been noted by some woman. Again, talk to your healthcare professional about the possible risks before considering the device.
The Contraceptive Implant is another hormone-releasing device. A small plastic tube, about the size of a matchstick, is inserted under the skin into the upper arm. This device also releases progestogen and typically remains effective for up to 3 years. Fertility will usually return to normal within the first cycle after the implant is removed.
Contraceptive Injections, also releasing hormones, usually last for up to 3 months. Fertility will usually return to normal within 12 to 18 months.
The Pill is a hormone-releasing contraceptive which most women would be familiar with. A very strict routine has to be adhered to as the pill has to be taken daily, in the same time window. If that time window is missed, chances that the pill might become ineffective is very high. The main advantage is that women can return to fertility much sooner than with most other methods. Fertility usually returns to normal within the first cycle after you have stopped taking the pill.
Barrier Methods are probably the best short term solution and are usually the best choice in those unexpected situations. The most popular are male condoms. Some people are allergic to latex, but latex-free condoms do exist. The most common complaint about condoms is that it affects the sensitivity of the sexual experience.
Natural Contraception is preferred by many sexual partners who do not like the idea of chemicals and synthetic hormones passing through their bodies.
Natural methods are not as effective as hormone-releasing alternatives, and it takes a bit of knowledge and discipline to get it right. You must know your body well and it is tricky for women with irregular cycles. Natural contraception requires that both partners work together. It can sound like hard work, sure, but it can be a great way to build trust, communication and understanding in a relationship.
There are many books and videos available on natural contraception and you can always speak to a specialist doctor or nurse.