Other types of birth control methods
Other types include:
- birth control implants;
- intrauterine devices (IUDs);
- birth control patches; and
- vaginal rings.
All such types of birth control methods are alternative and safe options to oral contraceptives (birth control pills). IUDs and birth control implants are recommended as “first-line” birth control methods for teenage girls by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Caution: none of these birth control methods protect against sexually transmitted diseases. This means that to safeguard against STDs or STIs, protection such as condoms must be used.
Birth control implants (Implanon)
The distinct advantage of birth control implants is that it is a very convenient and inexpensive birth control method that can be used for a teenager. It acts as a long term solution to prevent pregnancy. Birth control implants can be removed anytime a girl requires it to be removed. Implants however alter the menstruation cycle of the girl and may cause irregular periods and spotting.
Implanon works by releasing progesterone (female hormone) into the bloodstream. When released, progesterone:
- prevents ovulation;
- thins the lining of the womb to prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to the womb; and
- thickens cervix discharges to prevent sperm from entering the womb.
Implanon is attached to the girl via a small plastic rod that is inserted under the skin on the inside of the upper arm. Implanon lasts for 3 years and is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
Intrauterine devices or IUDs (Mirena)
Mirena is a new form of intrauterine device or IUD that is inserted into the womb. It is made of flexible plastic and is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Mirena lasts for 5 years although studies have shown that it may last slightly longer, up to 7 years.
Mirena works by releasing levonorgestrel (a synthetic progesterone hormone) which creates a “hostile uterine environment” in the womb in order to prevent pregnancy.
The side effects of using Mirena include:
- irregular menstrual cycle;
- increase in bleeding and spotting in the first 3-6 months; and
- over time, periods may become shorter or lighter.
Once removed, 8 out of 10 women succeed in becoming pregnant.
Mirena is not recommended for girls who are prone to infections.
Birth control patches (Ortho Evra)
A birth control patch is a direct alternative to an oral contraceptive pill. Birth control patches are worn on the upper arm, belly or bottom. The birth control patch comes as a square, flesh-colored patch.
Birth control patches work in the same way as oral contraceptive pills with each patch lasting for 7 days. It releases estrogen through the skin.
Some studies, however, show a higher risk of getting complications from wearing birth control patches – for example, increased risk of blot clots in legs and lungs in women wearing birth control patches in comparison to women who were on oral contraceptive pills.
Side effects of using birth control patches include:
- irregular menstrual cycle;
- nausea, headaches, and dizziness;
- mood changes;
- blood clots;
- skin sensitivity to the adhesive on the patch;
- contact lens problems.
Birth control rings (NuvaRing)
Birth control rings is inserted into the vagina. It works in the same way as oral contraceptive pills and birth control implants, except that it is placed in the vagina instead of a patch being placed on the skin or consuming a pill orally.