The pill versus IUDs
Find the birth control that’s right for you
By Sabrina Harmata, Staff Writer
One thing is sure about most university students: on top of all the studying and the debt, the responsibilities of taking care of a child are probably the last thing on anyone’s mind. But this doesn’t stop us from having sex. Therefore, it is essential that those of you uninterested in having kids at this point in your life find a birth control that works for you.
There are many different kinds of birth control, all with their own success rates and methods of inhibiting. Given the vast amount of options, it is important to find one that fits best with your body. If you’re interested in trying something new, talk to your doctor so you can make an informed decision. But first, here are some quick facts on the most common types of birth control to help you choose.
The pill, or more accurately, the pills
People talk about “The Pill” as if there’s only one, but just like there are many types of birth control, there are also many types of birth control pills. Despite there being multiple options, they all seem to work in the same general way: stopping ovulation so the sperm cannot fertilize the egg.
For maximum effect, birth control pills should be taken every day at the same time. Because the pills have a low dose of hormones, taking it at the same time is vital since you can get pregnant once the dosage wears off. Set a recurring alarm on your phone to remind you it’s that special time of day. The pill does not need to be taken during your period, but the package usually comes with placebo pills so you don’t forget to take it when your period is done. If the pill is being taken properly, it has a 99 per cent success rate. But, since not everyone takes it properly, its actual success rate is closer to 91 per cent. To learn more about the kinds of pills and how they’re different, ask your doctor.
IUDs: Hormonal versus copper
An IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a little T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into your uterus by a doctor. It can be uncomfortable to get put in, but there are ways of lessening the pain, such as taking a painkiller right before your appointment or booking your appointment right after your period. IUDs come in two different categories: hormonal and copper, both of which over 99 per cent effective. Copper IUDs are also the most effective form of emergency contraception. They’re 99 per cent effective if you get it within 5 days, compared to Plan B, which is only 89 per cent effective.
Hormonal IUDs last anywhere from three to five years, and copper IUDs last anywhere from three to 10, depending on the type. If you decide to have kids during this time, the IUD can easily be taken out by a doctor, and you will be able to conceive as soon as the procedure is done. Hormonal IUDs prevent the sperm from entering the uterus by thickening the layer of mucus in the cervix. The sperm that do make it through are killed by the hormones in the IUD. On top of this, the lining inside the uterus is kept thin to stop a fertilized egg from implanting. Copper IUDs simply kill the sperm by making your uterus produce a fluid that is toxic to it.
Hormonal IUDs tend to reduce menstrual flow and cramps after a year of being inserted; whereas, copper IUDs increase bleeding and cramps. If your cramps are already unbearable and you’re looking into an IUD, the hormonal ones are the way to go. Hormonal IUDs are a couple hundred dollars more than copper ones, but in the long run, both options will be cheaper than the pill or condoms, depending on your insurance coverage.
Keep in mind that neither form of birth control prevents STIs — only condoms can do that. If you’re still confused about what type of birth control you want, talk to your doctor and research it on your own.