Sex & Pancakes

Women have relied on the pill as their go-to method of birth control for decades. Today it’s still the most popular and commonly used form of birth control, aside from the condom.

But is it really the best option for everyone?

I know I’ve struggled with remembering to take that pill every day at the same time, and I’m sure others have, too. After screwing up my pills for several months in a row, I decided it was time to look into alternatives because no matter how effective the pill may be, it stops being effective when you forget four pills in a row, every week.

There are some really awesome and accessible alternatives out there that don’t get as much attention, so here’s the rundown on three other hormonal methods:

The Patch: The birth control patch (Evra) is a small beige-colored sticker that you can apply to your butt, stomach, back or upper arms. It works by releasing estrogen and progestin into your bloodstream.

The patch needs to be changed once a week, for three weeks. On the fourth week you get your period. The patch can be worn in the shower, has great staying power, and is great for someone who can’t remember something every day but can handle a weekly responsibility. Side effects are similar to the pill, but there’s also a risk of skin irritation wherever you place it, so it’s good to change where you put it from week to week.

The Ring: The ring (NuvaRing) is a flexible plastic ring you insert into your vagina for three weeks each month. It works the same way as the patch —by releasing progestin and estrogen. It takes getting used to because it is much more “hands on” than the pill or the patch since you need to insert it. But using the ring means you only need to think about your birth control once a month! It’s safe during sex, and you shouldn’t be able to feel it once inserted. Side effects are again, similar to the pill, but often more effective since people hardly forget it.

Intra-uterine system (IUS): The IUS device needs to be inserted into the vagina by a doctor. It can last up to five years, but can be taken out early if you want. It’s more than 99 per cent effective, and is basically a small “T” shaped device that releases the hormone levonorgestrel.

Many women experience lighter periods and less cramping. Some women even stop having their periods, so this is a good option if you don’t want to get your period. An IUS is completely reversible and doesn’t affect fertility.

Please note that NONE of these options protect against sexually transmitted infections, so keep that in mind. These methods are used mainly for pregnancy prevention, period regulation or to alleviate PMS symptoms.

Its also best to give any method (including the pill) two to three months before deciding if it’s right for you and, as always with medication, be sure to know potential side effects so that you can recognize them.

Many people I’ve spoken to are surprised to find out how easy these alternatives are to get because the pill is often the go-to method. Check them out if you’ve been less than satisfied with the pill and want to explore different options.

MORE INFO: CLSCs offer all of these methods and their youth clinics can advise you on each one. CLSC Metro: 1801 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. (Corner St. Mathieu)