MOST women of childbearing age have one thing in common – they want to have as much control as possible over their reproductive future. Of course, the safest and most effective way to achieve this is by using birth control. Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Robyn Khemlani said that knowing this is the easy part, but finding the best method for you is a process of trial and error.
“Sex is a normal part of life and talking about contraception shows you are taking responsible steps to protect yourself. There are several methods of contraception that are available, including condoms or other barrier methods; the copper T (non-hormonal intrauterine device); progestin-only methods such as the pill, injection, subdermal implant, and the levonorgestrel intrauterine device (IUD); and lastly the combined oral contraceptive pill. It is all just a matter of finding the best one for you,” Dr Khemlani said.
She pointed out that each birth control method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, when choosing the method that is best suited you will need to consider a number of things, including your desire for future fertility, your menstrual cycle in terms of heavy or painful periods, as well as things like compliance with the method, and the method that is most convenient for you. Importantly, Dr Khemlani advised that it is important before choosing and settling on a method to visit your OBGYN first so you can be counselled on all the available options.
While you are exploring birth control methods, you might find that the one you choose is not ideal for a number of reasons. Dr Khemlani shares some signs that your birth control of choice might not be right for you below.
You keep forgetting to take your pill
“If you are on the oral contraceptive pill and you are not able to remember the time to take the pill every day, then you should consider switching this method to another method,” Dr Khemlani advised. She explained that the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill requires that it be taken at the same time everyday. Therefore, if you know you are unable to be compliant, then this is not the best method for you.
All birth control methods have possible side effects and so you must always listen to your body. These side effects may vary between mild and severe. All severe side effects should be brought to the attention of your medical provider.
“One of the most common birth control methods, the oral contraceptive pill, is known to cause headaches. If you are having severe, persistent headaches because of taking the pill then you should consider switching your method of contraception,” Dr Khlemlani advised. She also said that if are also experiencing other side effects, including significant nausea even after trying to take the pill at night with a meal, it may be time to switch.
In the case of the Depo Provera injection, Dr Khemlani said that you may experience weight gain.
“If you are experiencing excessive weight gain and you are concerned and overwhelmed by the weight gain, that's a sign you should switch the method,” she advised. Another red flag is if you have persistent severe cramping and/or bleeding after you get an IUD. This should be treated with urgency.
Your libido goes through the window
Research shows that a number of women who take birth control pill realise that they simply have minimal or no desire for sex. Dr Khemlani said that if your libido has been affected, then you shouldn't feel ashamed. What you should do instead is switch to a method with more progestin, which can mimic testosterone, such as the Depo Provera injection.
Your needs have changed
The beauty of birth control is that you have options. We are humans so we are allowed to change our minds. For example, Dr Khemlani said that if you want to get pregnant in the near future, then using Depo Provera injection every three months is not the best method for you.
“This is because it may cause a delay in pregnancy even after it has been stopped. So if you do want to get pregnant in the near future, it would be better to choose a method that will not cause any delays in getting pregnant,” Dr Khemlani explained.
You are not committed to checking your device regularly
“When it comes to the IUD, the patient should check for the strings every month at the end of every period to ensure it is in the right place,” Dr Khemlani advised. She explained that if the IUD is not in the correct position then it may not be as effective and therefore the patient will get pregnant. In addition, if the strings are not felt then it could be that the IUD as expelled leaving the patient with no method of contraception. So if you know you will not be compliant in checking for the strings of the IUD, then you should consider switching methods.
Challenges with your period or breakthrough bleeding
Different methods can affect your period differently. For example, Dr Khemlani said that spotting may occur as a side effect of your method, for example, in the first few months following the use of oral contraceptive pill. However, if you are having persistent unscheduled bleeding as a result of your contraceptive method and it's interfering with your quality of life, then you may consider changing the method. You may also miss your periods when using these pills.
Dr Robyn Khemlani operates from 10A Parkington Plaza/ 129 Pro/ Westminister Medical Centre and Oxford Medical Centre in Kingston. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.