Contraception is an important and crucial part of a woman’s life. Dr Maryann Spottiswood, a GP with years of expertise in women’s contraception and family planning explains the best contraceptive options available in 2021 and how there’s a lot to consider before you make a decision.
When it comes to contraception, women have more options than ever to decide, if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.
But, more options also mean there’s a lot to consider before you make a decision. In doing so, the most important step is to weigh your options with your doctor.
Most of my patients come with concerns like, if periods will affect their contraception, or will they gain weight with oral pills, and so on.
There are myriad factors that could influence your choice. As a doctor, we need to take into consideration your health, efficacy, duration and perhaps cost when deciding what kind of contraception would best work for you.
While no contraception is 100% foolproof, some options may work absolutely fine for you, while others won’t.
This is why your doctor is the best place to start with when making birth control decisions. They can provide contraception advice and guide you to decide the best option according to your needs and health.
“You need to take into consideration your health, efficacy, duration and perhaps cost when deciding what kind of contraception would best work for you”.
Here is my list of the most effective contraception options available for women in 2021 to help you discover which method is best for you.
What are the most effective contraceptive options available in 2021?
1. Hormonal IUD (Mirena or Kyleena)
Hormonal intrauterine devices have almost 99.8% efficacy that provides a long-term solution to birth control.
How Does it Work?
Your doctor inserts a T-shaped frame into the uterus and releases the hormone progesterone to prevent pregnancy. The hormone will thicken the mucus around the cervix to prevent the entry of sperm. In this way, it provides contraception and partially suppresses ovulation.
Why choose Mirena or Kylenna?
Mirena and Kyleena provide effective and long-lasting contraception for up to 5 years. One of the other benefits is it can be removed if you want to return to normal fertility and is safe to be used by premenopausal women.
The use of IUDs can decrease the risk for endometriosis but at the same time, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t protect you against STIs. Non hormonal IUDs eg copper IUDS are also available if a non hormone containing IUD is preferred.
2. Contraceptive Implant
The implant, with a new name Nexplanon, previously Implanon, is a thin rod about the size of a matchstick that is placed in the upper arm to provide contraception.
How does it work?
The implant is inserted inside your skin and is so small that it’s hard to notice once placed. It then releases progestogen into the body over a period of three years.
Why choose a contraceptive implant?
It is a quick and safe procedure and is very effective at preventing pregnancy (even more effective than sterilisation.) An implant can last up to four years, and it can also be removed anytime by a doctor when you want.
3. The Combined Pill
The combined oral contraception pill (often just referred to as “the pill”) is a hormone tablet that contains two things – oestrogen and progesterone.
How does it work?
You consume a pill around the same time every day. If taken correctly it can be very effective. Once consumed, it releases hormones that keep the ovaries from releasing eggs.
Why choose the pill?
When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The pill is safe and convenient and can have other benefits such as making periods lighter and more regular, and sometimes reducing acne.
This is a dome-shaped silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina. In Australia, it is available as Caya.
How does it work?
A diaphragm stops sperm from entering the body. It needs to stay in for at least 6 hours after sex to prevent pregnancy.
Why choose the Diaphragm?
It is cost-effective and can be reused for up to 2 years. But remember, It is less effective than IUDs and Implanon, and it is recommended to discuss its suitability with a doctor.
5. Vaginal Ring
The vaginal ring is a small, soft plastic ring that is placed in the vagina.
How does it work?
A vaginal ring works on the same principle as a diaphragm or a pill. It contains the same hormones and is released into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.
Why choose the Ring?
This is also cost-effective and can be removed to allow you to have regular monthly menstruation. But, like the pill, 1 in 10 women can still get pregnant using a vaginal ring.
6. Contraceptive Injection
Also called the Depo Shot, it is administered as an injection into the body. After it is an injection you don’t have to worry about birth control for three months.
Why choose a Depo Shot?
It is quick and can be used when breastfeeding.
Although it is very effective it can cause side effects such as headaches and mood swings that can last up to 12 weeks.
7. Morning after pill
The “morning after pill “ can be bought at pharmacies and can be used if unprotected intercourse has occurred and there is a risk of unintended pregnancy.
Although the morning after pill is an easy contraception option, it’s effectiveness can diminish if you wait longer after intercourse. It can also cause side effects like irregular bleeding, nausea and bloating. Please speak to your GP about reliable ongoing forms of contraception.
Book an appointment to discuss your contraception options
As you can see, there a lot of options, and much to consider when choosing a contraceptive method. This is why your doctor is the best place to start with when making birth control decisions.