Birth Control

Other Contraceptives

Synthetic Hormones as Birth Control and Contraceptive

Depo Provera is a long-lasting birth control method that involves injection of a synthetic hormone called progestin every three months. The drug has been found to be almost 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, but is associated with a long list of possible side effects including headaches, weight gain, irregular bleeding, depression, nervousness, dark spotting of the skin, change in hair growth, and change in sex drive.

The IUD as Birth Control and Contraceptive

The Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) is a plastic object, often t-shaped, that is medically inserted into a woman's uterus. The IUD contains copper or a hormone that prevents sperm from joining with the egg. Found to be 97-99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, IUDs may cause tubal pregnancy, menstrual cramping, and infection.

Norplant as Birth Control and Contraceptive

Norplant is a long-term birth control method that involves the medical insertion of six soft capsules (about the size of a match stick) under the skin of the upper arm. The implant releases the synthetic hormone progestin into the body over a five-year period preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs. This method is over 99 percent effective but is associated with a range of side effects including irregular menstruation, weight gain, change in appetite, acne, headaches, gain or loss of facial hair, depression, nervousness, and ovarian cysts.

Finally, there are surgical procedures: vasectomy (to block the vas deferens tubes that carry sperm) in men and tubal ligation (blocking the fallopian tubes that transport eggs) in women. These are extremely effective birth control methods.

Like all surgery, there are some risks, but they are rare in both procedures. Tubal ligation is relatively expensive (over $1000); vasectomy is somewhat less expensive. Both of these procedures are surgically reversible (an expensive procedure) with relatively high success rates. Neither of these methods, however, prevents the spread of STDs or HIV.

Given the wide range of birth control methods, with varying costs and benefits, careful consideration and discussion with partners and health care providers is needed to make an appropriate decision.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute

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