As adults, we try our best to make responsible decisions. When it comes to the prevention of unplanned pregnancies, the decision can come with a whole list of both pros and cons, depending on which method one may choose.
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Now, more than ever, women have access to a multitude of options when it comes to birth control and contraceptives. With that being said, not all are aware of what those options are.
A 2017 poll of college students and their choice of birth control method found that 32% of these students rely exclusively on the withdrawal. The thought behind this method is logical, but, in practice, it should not be relied on solely.
But which method is the right one?
The truth is, there is no right option.
Everyone’s body is different, as are their needs, lifestyles, and health. Birth control is not about choosing the best option out there, but rather, the best option for you.
The pill is the most common form of birth control chosen by women today. However, it may not be perfect for everyone. It has been proven to be more than 91% effective when taken regularly, but it also is joined by a long list of side effects: nausea, weight gain, mood changes, headaches, and so on.
It is important for all women to be aware of their options, and not feel pressured into choosing what seems to be the most popular path.
While there is no method that is 100% effective, long-active reversible contraceptives (LARC methods) provide the closest thing to it. These also allow the user to discontinue when/if they do choose to have children in the future.
LARC methods include the contraceptive implant, IUD, and IUS. Unlike the pill, they do not require the daily chore of remembering to take a pill. Instead, they will last anywhere from three to ten years, and are all more than 99% effective. There are both non-hormonal and hormonal options, making them the a great choice for all women.
Other popular forms of non-permanent birth control include the injection, patch, and ring, all ranging from 91-94% effective and must be replaced anywhere from weekly to every five years. Planned Parenthood provides a detailed list on the options available, which you can check out here to learn more.
With so many options available, there is no harm in doing your own research to be sure which path may be right for you. Planned Parenthood even has an online birth control quiz, which will provide suggestions regarding which method may be right for you.
The internet today holds an abundance of information regarding birth control options for women. However, this should not diminish the importance of proper sex education within school systems.
In the US, there is no national standard on how schools must weave sex ed into their curriculum; this includes the dictation of when students are taught, what is taught, and who teaches it. In fact, only 13 states require information to even be medically accurate.
In this sense, many US schools are failing their students for a number of reasons. In relation to birth control, this allows schools to decide for themselves what methods to teach their students about, leaving many to push abstinence as the only acceptable option. Planned Parenthood reports that in 2011–2013, 43% of adolescent females and 57% of adolescent males received no information regarding birth control before having sex for the first time.
This is why it is so important we allow ourselves to be open and vocal when it comes to the conversation regarding sex and birth control. Pushing abstinence as the only acceptable choice is not only ineffective, but furthers a negative stigma regarding sexuality.
By providing students with the proper knowledge, they can make the best informed decisions in the future. In the meantime, educating ourselves on the variety of birth control options available can help us make the most smart and sensible decisions for our own bodies.
Caroline is an undergraduate student at Worcester State University. When she is not writing, she also runs a photography business specializing in portrait, wedding, and boudoir photography. She aims to use both writing and photography to empower women and encourage them to find their inner voice and confidence.