Empowerment and Control – privileges of a modern woman who has a plethora of Birth Control options available to her. Contraceptive Empowerment has transformed many lives.
We know the struggle was real for the sisters who came before us, when the earliest forms of birth control dates to 1850 BC in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. We have come a long way from the honey, acacia leaves, and lint, indeed.
Are you considering birth control? Well, you can choose between: Natural methods, Devices, Injections, Pharmaceutical types, and Permanent Contraception. These options are detailed well in Medical News Today along with how effective each method is.
Pills (oral contraceptives) - A pill is taken daily and contains a cocktail of two hormones: estrogen and progestin. These hormones combine to prevent the release of an egg and make the uterus lining thinner with 91% - 95% effectiveness.
Patch – A patch of synthetic estrogen and progestin but is applied to your skin (lower abdomen or buttocks), worn each week for 3 weeks with a break on the fourth for menstruation. Effectivity 91%.
Ring – Functions like a patch, releasing low doses of estrogen and progestin, but worn inside the vagina. Worn for three weeks, removed during the fourth for menstruation. It’s said to be 99% effective but 91% with allowance for human error.
The Shot – Progestin only, long-acting and reversible. Administered at the doctor’s office every 3 months, 94% Effective.
IUD’s – Intrauterine devices, some release hormones (progestin) while others are non-hormonal with copper, which acts as a spermicide. Inserted by a doctor into the uterus, it stays in place as long as a pregnancy is not desired. Depending on the type, it will last for 3, 5, or 10 years. Over 99% effective.
Implant – A tiny rod with a core of progestin on a slow-release, is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. Last up to four years, can be removed at any time, and is 99% effective.
Morning After – Emergency contraception which may prevent pregnancy after intercourse. It prevents ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of an embryo. It can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. 95% effective during the first 24 hours, falling to 60% by 72 hours.
While the above methods are effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies, they do not prevent the transmission of STDs.
The science behind hormonal contraceptives is simple. Higher than normal levels of estrogen and progestin stops the ovary from releasing an egg. Without an egg, sperm have nothing to fertilize.
There are many positive side effects associated with birth control: menstrual relief with lighter, less cramping periods, reduced acne, possible protection for certain cancers, and hair growth reduction, to name a few!
However, there are some side effects which could affect sexual function according to Psychology Today:
Loss of libido: Pill-induced androgen suppression can diminish or destroy erotic feelings.
Less vaginal lubrication: Vaginal dryness can make having sex less comfortable and enjoyable. Lubricants usually take care of it, but not always.
Vulvar pain: Pill use for more than a year or two increases the risk of pain during and/or after intercourse.
Thinning of the inner vaginal lips and vaginal entrance: Erosion of this tissue can make genital play uncomfortable.
Frequent yeast infections: It is believed that estrogen in birth control pills, patches, and rings can cause the vagina to produce more sugars, which feed the already plentiful yeast living in the vagina causing the overgrowth. Causing dryness, irritation and itching.
Vaginal dryness is a very real side effect for many. It can often be a side effect of hormonal birth control, as these are designed to control levels of testosterone production leading to vaginal dryness. Estrogen too helps keep the vaginal tissues lubricated, so less estrogen translates to less blood flow to the tissue, and dryness of the vagina and vulva. Symptoms commonly associated with vaginal dryness include vaginal itching, burning, irritation, and intercourse pain. These vaginal changes make it easier for infections to occur. Read our blog Vulva or Vaginal dryness - understanding the difference, for more.
Can’t bear it – try these…
Non-hormonal birth control methods such as the copper IUD, or mini-pill, are unlikely to lead to vaginal dryness, unlike other hormonal methods of birth control. So, if you are experiencing vaginal dryness it is worth considering a switch, but this should be done after a consultation with your doctor.
Maintaining a diet which includes healthy fats like avocado, hummus, and peanuts could enhance vaginal lubrication while cutting out the dehydrating caffeine and drinking plenty of water.
It is also super easy to adopt an intimate area self-care routine. As you step out of the shower, moisturize your vulva with a specially formulated product like Rejuvenate. This will help you maintain the moisture and elasticity of your vulva and may provide the secondary benefit of an increased libido.