Don’t just do it: do it right

By Monet Soto

Birth control is not always the first thing that comes to mind when you are “in the moment.” However, it may become the first thing that comes to mind after birth control precautions have not been taken in the heat of the moment.

Advancement in science has provided women with multiple options of birth control. In spite of this, not all women are informed of all the different birth control methods available to avoid the risk of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

ELAC’s Student Health Center and AltaMed Health Services held a birth control workshop on Tuesday, Nov 24. The workshop provided detailed information on every different types of birth control available.

A member of the Community Health Corps, Arlin Alger, led the workshop. She explained that the services that are offered at Planned Parenthood are also offered at AltaMed health clinics. All services are also offered free of cost at AltaMed clinics if patients qualify as low-income under the Family PACT program.

Alger went on to explain every form of birth control available, complete with samples of each type. The effectiveness of different types of birth control range from most effective to less effective. The most effective option (99.95 percent) is the IUD implant that lasts for up to three years.

The implant contains hormones and it is inserted under the skin in the upper arm. Local anesthesia is administered so that the implant may be inserted without discomfort.

This option is similar to the other type of intrauterine device (IUD) that is inserted into the uterus.

There are two types of IUDs available: non hormonal copper (ParaGard) and hormonal (Mirena or Skyla). The copper IUD releases copper into the uterus acting as a spermicide and kills sperm. This IUD lasts for up to 12 years. The hormonal IUD can last between three to six years and works by releasing a form of  Progestin into the uterus.

The Progestin may prevent the egg from leaving the ovary, or it may thicken cervical mucus to block sperm from joining with an egg. Alger explained that if one should choose this option, it is important to remember to check the strings of the IUD once a month to ensure it has not moved.

The second most effective is a shot which contains the hormone Progestin only. Calcium is prescribed with the shot as it may weaken the bones. To maintain effectiveness, a shot is required every three months. This method of birth control has been proven to cause weight gain. The shot, the pill, patch and Nuva Ring, all fall into the same category of being less effective.

Due to human error, these methods would be described as less effective. These methods require more effort, as one must remember to be diligent in taking a pill at the same time every day, or replacing a patch once a week.

Side effects for any type of hormonal contraception are similar but don’t affect every person the same way.  Some may have no side effects at all.

The most common side effect of the IUD implant is irregular bleeding and longer heavier bleeding during periods. The less common side effects in hormonal birth control include: change in sex drive, nausea, headaches, sore breasts and weight gain. Less common side effects of the IUD implant include: discoloring or scarring of the skin over the implant, pain at insertion sight, and the most rare would be infection or pain in the arm.

The least effective methods in pregnancy prevention are condoms, spermicide, diaphragm and withdrawal (also known as the “pull-out” method). The only form of pregnancy prevention that is 100% effective is abstinence.

If one should need emergency contraception (also known as Plan B), there are two types available and they are 86 percent effective. Plan B works for up to 72 hours or three days after unprotected sex and Ella works for up to five days after unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception only works to prevent pregnancy. It does not affect an egg that has already been fertilized. Some may confuse Plan B as an abortion pill, which it is not. Emergency contraception is now available over-the-counter at any pharmacy.

Alger concluded the workshop with a hand-out of stickers and condoms. She stated that more workshops for information on birth control will take place in the future at ELAC. She also mentioned as another option for information on birth control.

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