Perhaps you’ve been on the pill for years, or just starting to think about contraception for the first time. For a lot of us it can be worthwhile talking to your doctor to see if what you’re taking is still the best option for you. We can talk about what options are available and how they differ:
- Condoms and diaphragms: A physical barrier contraception, it is also the only one that can help protect against STIs.
- Copper IUD: A copper device inserted into the uterus which can stay for 5-10 years.
- Combined oral contraceptive pill “The Pill”: A daily pill which contains the oestrogen and progesterone hormone. It is designed to prevent ovulation and thus pregnancy, and can help with regulating periods.
- Combined contraceptive vaginal ring: Essentially the same as “The Pill” but in a ring form that is inserted into the vagina and changed monthly.
- Progesterone only pill “The mini pill”: Another daily pill however there is no oestrogen hormone (progesterone-only), so it may be a safer option for some people.
- Depo Injections: A three monthly progesterone-only contraception administered as an injection.
- Implanon: A small, flexible bar inserted into the arm that provides progesterone-only contraception over 3 years.
- Mirena IUD: A progesterone-only device inserted into the uterus and can stay for 5 years.
Effectiveness of each contraception varies, and we can discuss how each method may fit in best with your lifestyle and family plans. Here is a link to a helpful PDF illustrating the efficacy of each method: https://www.familyplanningallianceaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/EFFICACY-OF-CONTRACEPTIVE-METHODS-2019.pdf
Some women may use contraceptives to help manage other medical issues, such as heavy periods, period pain, acne, or even premenstrual mood disturbances. Oral contraceptive pills are available with different dosages, and you may find certain brands will work better than others depending on what symptoms we are treating.
There are also some medical conditions that prevent you from taking certain contraceptives safely, for example high blood pressure, blood clotting disorders, and some types of migraines – just to name a few! A GP will do a thorough medical review to make sure the contraception method is safe and effective for you, and also go through the side effects you may expect.
This may also be a good time to discuss other issues such as pelvic discomfort, genital or urinary concerns, sexual health, and family planning, as sometimes these topics are hard to bring up with a doctor. Often it can be just a quick consult to get your pill script refilled, but we can always take some time to look at the big picture and explore your overall health and wellbeing too.