College-aged women today have to make many choices. Deciding how to prevent pregnancy is just one of them.
Many women choose to remain abstinent or use condoms alone. Women who decide to seek a birth control prescription have another choice to make: Which option is best?
The most popular method used by women in their teens and 20s is the birth control pill, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Taken daily and typically about 92 percent effective, the pill uses progestin or an estrogen and progestin combination to prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm travel.
The pill works well for a lot of women, but it’s hardly the only option. There are more effective alternatives that women should be aware of.
College is crazy and hectic, and remembering to take a pill every day at a specific time is difficult. If a woman forgets to take her pill even once, or regularly takes it off-schedule, she greatly increases her chance of pregnancy without a backup method.
These alternative long-term methods provide peace of mind and ease of use.
Long-term birth control methods such as the intrauterine device, the implant and the shot last longer and require less maintenance than the pill — and they are 97-99 percent effective.
The shot, known as Depo-Provera, is a progestin-only method that works the same way as the pill. The upside is that a woman only needs one shot every three months to prevent pregnancy. It costs about $75 without insurance.
The birth control implant is a small rod inserted under the skin in the upper arm. It slowly releases hormones that prevent pregnancy for a whopping three years. The rod is around the size of a match and can be removed anytime if a woman wants to become pregnant. It costs about $600 without insurance.
Lastly, the IUD provides pregnancy protection for five to 12 years and is inserted into the uterus right above the cervix. Mirena utilizes hormones and Paragard is hormone-free. The ability to become pregnant returns quickly if someone decides to get the IUD removed early. IUDs can be expensive without insurance, but they can last years — a definite perk.
Both the birth control implant and IUDs must be inserted and removed by a physician.
While we have introduced many contraceptive options for women, talk to your healthcare provider for more information to decide what is best for you.
Having sex comes with great responsibility. Choosing a birth control option is only part of that. Know the basics and ask for details. Be aware of the longer-term options available for women today.
Natalie Chau, Brooke Sanders and Lucas Griffin are peer health educators of the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion