An Honest Conversation About Contraceptives

Posted by Javay da BAE. on

September 26th is World Contraceptive Day and though it is a “holiday” the conversations around contraceptives are not very common nor are they very honest. That is not the way things should be so I want to get into the nitty gritty of contraceptives.

First, let’s start with what are contraceptives? Contraceptives are most commonly referred to as birth control as they are made to prevent pregnancy. I would like to point out that no only women get pregnant. Gender non-conforming individuals, transgender individuals, gender fluid/queer individuals, and men can get pregnant. Gender is not the same as sex and someone’s sex assigned at birth does not mean that is their gender. Be mindful of the language you use when talking about contraceptives and pregnancy.

Now that the general is covered let’s get into more detailed pieces. There are about 14 different forms of contraception and then there are a wide variety of different brands of contraceptives so that means there are hundreds of options for people to choose from. Contraception is not one size fits all and some work better for others than another might. Below is a list of all the different forms of contraceptives:

  • Caps & Diaphragms

  • The Pill

  • Condoms (internal & external)

  • The Implant

  • The Shot (Injection)

  • The Patch

  • The IUD (Intra-Uterine Device)

  • The IUS (Intra-Unterine System)

  • Feterlity Awareness Method

  • The Progestogen Pill

  • The Vaginal Ring

  • Female Sterilizaiton

  • Vascetomy

Each contraceptive offers its own pros and cons for an individual and all options should be explored when looking to start with a contraceptive or when an individual may be wanting to switch contraceptives. Each option also has different levels of efficiency depending on proper use. The most efficient methods tend to be LARCs (long acting reversible contraceptives) which are the IUD, the implant, and vasectomies. The other contraceptive options tend to be less efficient especially if they are not used correctly, which is why a few of the options have decreased in popularity, mainly caps and diaphragms.

The history of contraceptives is a highly tumultuous one, especially for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) women. Many forms of birth control were tested on BIPOC women throughout history resulting in sterilization and birth/pregnancy complications for many. Puerto Rican women were used to test the birth control pill. African-American women were subjected to forced sterilization. The repercussions of the unethical birth control testing and sterilization is still felt in today’s generations and has impacted the way birth control is discussed in doctors’ offices today.

The medical field does a bit of gate-keeping in terms of contraceptives. Doctors have been known to pick and choose which options they present to patients based on what they think is necessary. Many individuals from lower socioeconomic status are referred to get LARCs, such as IUDs, to minimize the amount of people in poverty. Doctors also sometimes neglect to offer all of the effects of contraceptives to patients. The shot is known to cause a lot of weight gain, the pill has been noted to cause many hormonal changes that lead to mood swings and sometimes suicidal thoughts and depression.

Though the history of contraceptives has some very negative aspects, there are many positives to using contraceptives. For individuals with PCOS and endometriosis it can greatly combat symptoms and make living with both much more manageable. Birth control can help regulate abnormal menstrual cycles, balance hormones, clear up acne and so much more!

If you are starting your journey with contraceptives or looking to switch I highly recommend doing some initial research on your own and then talking with your medical provider. I also love this clip from Big Mouth on Netflix that shows the process and some pros/cons to a few contraceptive options. The search for the right contraceptive may seem daunting but I promise that with some patience, research and honest conversations you can find the perfect option for you!

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