THERE are plenty of contraception options available to women — and men, for that matter — today.
While this makes it easier to find an option that works for you, it can also cause some confusion.
Find fact from fiction with our myth buster Dr Louisa Draper, Medical Director at online doctor service, DrEd Ireland.
Myth: “The only contraception available to women is the pill”
Fact: The contraceptive pill is one of many contraception options available to women.
While popular, it is by no means the only one.
Other options for hormonal contraception include the contraceptive patch, the implant and the injection.
If you want to go on contraception, or to change the one you are already using, it’s important to consider what’s available to you and what will suit you and your lifestyle. Some methods, like the contraceptive pill, require you to remember to take your pill every day but can be stopped at any time. Others, like the contraceptive implant, requires a doctor to insert and remove it, but you don’t need to think about it every day. In addition to hormonal contraceptive methods, there are also those that use no hormones, such as the copper coil, condoms, or a diaphragm.
Myth: “The morning after pill has to be taken the following day”
Fact: The morning after pill is the name most commonly used to refer to emergency contraception. Its name is a bit misleading, however, as it is NOT only ‘the morning after’ that it is effective. The timeframe in which this form of emergency contraception is effective depends on the pill. Compare two popular pills, Levonelle and EllaOne, for example. Levonelle has to be taken within three days, or 72 hours, of sexual intercourse. However, the longer you leave it, the less likely it is to be effective at preventing a pregnancy. The window of effectiveness is longer for EllaOne at five days, or 120 hours, after sexual intercourse.
Myth: “All forms of contraception mean taking extra hormones”
Fact: Some forms of contraception do work because they contain hormones. The pill, for example, contains hormones that make you less likely to release an egg (needed to get pregnant) or that change the environment within your womb to prevent a pregnancy. There are other forms of contraception that do not contain hormones.
Condoms work by creating a physical barrier that prevents the sperm from reaching the egg and fertilising it. The copper contraceptive coil, or IUD, is another form of hormone-free contraception. It works by changing the environment in the womb to prevent pregnancy.
Myth: “The coil makes you infertile”
Fact: No, the coil does not make you infertile. It is a form of contraception, meaning it will stop you conceiving when you are using it.
Some people keep the coil in for several years, but it is reversible. It is not a form of sterilisation, which results in permanent infertility. Instead, once the coil is removed, you will be able to get pregnant.
Myth: “You can’t get pregnant if the guy pulls out before he ejaculates”
Fact: This way of trying to prevent pregnancy is commonly called ‘withdrawal’. This is not considered a reliable form of contraception, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it can be hard for a man to predict accurately when he is about to ejaculate. If he leaves it too late, then withdrawal will not be effective.
Secondly, men can also release pre-ejaculate (or pre-cum) before they orgasm. The sperm in this puts a woman at risk of pregnancy if they are not using another form of contraception.
Myth: “Only men can use condoms”
Fact: When people talk about condoms, they are typically referring to male condoms. However you can also get female condoms. These are worn by women inside the vagina and, like a male condom, create a physical barrier that separates the egg and the sperm. As well as protecting against pregnancy, male and female condoms protect against STIs.
For more about online doctor service DrEd Ireland, visit DrEd.com/ie
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