QUESTION: I’m 18-years-old and I got married 3 weeks ago. As I began birth control, I had some very bad side effects and the doctor said I might be allergic to it. I heard the ring is very dangerous and that a lot of women are suing the company that makes it. Do you have any suggestions that will help me? Thank you for your time and help.
DESTINY’S ADVICE: Despite what you may hear, the contraceptive ring is a safe and effective method of birth control. Like the pill and the patch, it contains two hormones, progestin and estrogen. So, women who use these methods may have side effects that usually go away after about three months. These include spotting, nausea, and sore breasts. Serious side effects are rare with these methods. They include blood clots, heart attack, liver tumors, and stroke. But most women can use these methods safely. They are much safer than pregnancy and childbirth for healthy women — except for women who smoke and are 35 or over.
Contraceptive implants, shots, and progestin-only pills contain only one hormone — progestin. Women who use these methods may have nausea or sore breasts for the first two or three months. They may also have headaches and irregular bleeding patterns. Other side effects are less common. You can read about them here.
Women who don’t want to use birth control with hormones can consider using the IUD. (There are two kinds. One, called Mirena, contains progestin. The other, ParaGard, has no hormones at all.) IUDs are even more effective than patches, pills, rings, or shots. The only more effective method that is not permanent is the implant. Both kinds of IUDS may cause cramping or backache for a few days after insertion. Both may cause spotting between periods. With Mirena, irregular periods may last six months. With ParaGard, periods may be heavier and cramps may be worse for some women.
There are other methods of birth control including condoms, sponges, diaphragms, caps, spermicide, and fertility awareness methods. These have fewer side effects than hormonal methods or IUDs, but they are also much less effective. But effectiveness may not be the most important concern for you. Birth control methods are not one-size-fits-all. A method that’s perfect for one woman may not be right for another.
To figure out what method may be best for you, you might want to try this online tool.
Suerte, and here’s to your continued good sexual health.
Director of Latino Engagement for Planned Parenthood Federation of America
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