Sexual health awareness is an important health topic for any adolescent or young adult. One of the most important steps in sexual health awareness is choosing the right birth control method. Your child’s doctor can supply the correct information on the action and side effects of contraception so that you and your adolescent can feel comfortable and safe. Here are the basics behind birth control, and where you can go in Purchase, NY, for great adolescent sexual healthcare and contraception near you.
What Is Birth Control?
Birth control, or contraception, is any hormonal or nonhormonal method that helps sexually active individuals prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Common birth control methods include condoms, the pill, the “morning after pill”, the implant, and IUDs (intrauterine devices). Methods can range from one-time usage to a pill you have to remember to take every day to an IUD which can last up to 10 years. Each young patient should talk through the various choices with a trusted relative and healthcare provider to ensure effectiveness, avoid risky sexual behaviors, and preserve long-term health and wellness.
Here are some of the most frequently used birth control methods, how long and how well they work, and their possible side effects.
Barrier methods are any birth control that physically prevents sperm from getting to the egg. Common barrier methods include condoms (male condoms fit over the penis, while female condoms sit in the vagina), diaphragms, and cervical caps. The latter two are reusable and sit in the vagina to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus (and the egg).
Barrier methods prevent pregnancy 71 to 88 percent of the time when used correctly. They also have few side effects – some people may be allergic to latex in condoms, but latex-free condoms are available. If you are looking for contraception near you or one that is available over the counter, condoms are the most convenient form of birth control as they are carried in almost any drugstore.
It should be noted that condoms are the only birth control method that prevents STDs as well as pregnancy. That being said, condoms can be used with non-barrier methods to prevent STDs and add an extra layer of protection against pregnancy.
Hormonal Birth Control
Available by prescription, this contraceptive method is delivered via an oral pill, skin patch, vaginal ring, skin implant, or another method. They contain one or more types of hormones that thicken the cervical mucus uterus or suppress the body’s ability to ovulate (or produce a fertile egg) each menstrual cycle. Both processes prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg.
Hormonal birth control is 91 to 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, with daily methods on the low end of that range and the implant on the high end. Hormonal methods can have side effects, such as spotting, irregular periods, headaches, nausea, and more. In addition, the individual must be in good overall physical health to use hormonal birth control.
Emergency contraception refers to any birth control method used when an individual had unprotected sex or a birth control method was used but failed, e.g., the condom broke.
The most common type of emergency contraception is the “morning-after pill,” which needs to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex but up to 5 days after. This pill contains the same hormones as the daily birth control pill but in higher doses to suddenly delay ovulation and prevent sperm from reaching an egg. The morning-after pill is NOT the same as an abortion, as it does not harm a pregnancy if you are already pregnant. This is also a convenient form of contraception near you because it is available at a pharmacy over the counter.
The morning-after pill is about 75 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Side effects of the morning-after pill are usually minimal and only last a few days, including nausea, fatigue, breast tenderness, and cramps.
On the other hand, a copper IUD can act as emergency contraception if it is placed up to 5 days after unprotected sex, and it is up to 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. However, it is a long-acting form of birth control and should only be used as emergency contraception if long-term birth control is also desired.
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a physician. They are embedded with either copper or hormones to make the uterus inhospitable to sperm to prevent fertilization.
Most IUDs are highly effective–up to 98 percent– and can stay in place for three to 10 years, depending on the kind. Some people experience a range of side effects, such as lighter periods (more common with hormonal IUDs) or heavier periods (more common with copper IUDs).
Because these are a form of long-lasting birth control, it is important for parents and adolescents to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this method with their pediatrician.
Sexual Health Services For Adolescents in Purchase, NY
At BridgeSpan Medicine, our team of board-certified pediatricians and their support staff want adolescents and their families to feel fully informed about sexual health and know how to make the right choices for their young lives.
To learn more about birth control methods and which one may be right for your young adult, call us at (914) 698-5544 for an informative consultation with one of our doctors, or request an appointment here. We look forward to serving you and your family!