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 The information provided on the show is for general information purposes only. If you have a health problem, medical emergency, or a general health question, you should contact a physician or other qualified health care provider for consultation, diagnosis and/or treatment. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-diagnosis or treatment based on anything you have seen on the show.

According to the Canadian Contraception survey, 44 per cent of women use hormonal pills as their choice of birth control, making it the second most popular form of contraception after condoms. But according to the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), the Intrauterine Device (IUD) is actually the most effective method. So, how do you know what method is the best option for you? Dr. Melinda Wu dropped by the Your Morning studio to break down some of the other options available to Canadians. (You can watch her interview in the video clip above!)

IUDs

An IUD is a flexible, T-shaped device that, once inserted into a woman’s uterus, helps prevent pregnancy. There are three types of IUDs available in Canada: copper IUD (non-hormonal), Mirena IUD (hormonal) and Kyleena IUD (hormonal). Hormone-releasing IUDs can last up to five years, depending on the brand. The copper IUD can stay in place and offer protection for up to 12 years. The IUD has two tiny strings that hang out the cervix into the vagina, and these strings can be used to make sure your IUD remains in place.

Pros

The IUD has a 99 per cent efficacy rate, so the risk of getting pregnant is low. Once the device is inserted, you’re good to go. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to use, or using it incorrectly. IUDs won’t affect your fertility and they’re not permanent, so you can have it removed once you’re ready to start a family. Hormonal IUDs can help women who have heavy periods and bad cramps. In fact, some women stop getting periods altogether once they’ve had an IUD inserted. The IUD is also cost effective. The hormonal IUD ranges between $300 and $350, while the copper IUD costs around $80, and both last for up to five years.

Cons

Like all other birth control options (except condoms), IUDs won’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There have also been reports of the IUD slipping out of place (or “going missing”), which happens to three to 10 per cent of patients. (You can regularly check your IUD is in place by feeling for the strings.) Some women report side effects after getting an IUD, which include: cramping or backaches, spotting between periods, irregular periods, heavier periods and worse menstrual cramps. Some women also experience cramping after the IUD has been inserted.

You can learn more about IUDs in the video clip below.

 

The patch

This birth control method can be worn on the skin of your belly, upper arm, butt, or back. A new patch is put on every week for three weeks. The patch releases hormones that help prevent pregnancy.

Pros

The patch is effective, when used correctly. It’s a great option for women who don’t want to worry about taking a pill every day. Some women experience lighter periods, less cramps and their cycle becomes easier to predict.

Cons

Some side effects include nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, spotting, and mood changes. It also doesn’t protect against STDs.

Hormone pills

Birth control pills are “a kind of medicine with hormones.”  Some pills contain both estrogen and progestin (combination pills), which are safe for breastfeeding women and those who can’t take estrogen.

Pros

The pill is 91 per cent effective, if used correctly. This means it’s really important you don’t forget to take (or miss) your pill. According to a 2015 report from Stats Canada, oral contraceptives are safe for the vast majority of healthy women. Birth control pills aren’t just for birth control—both combination and progestin-only pills reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy. The combination pill can also reduce or help prevent: acne, bone thinning, cysts in breasts and ovaries, serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus, anemia, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Cons

You have to take the pill every day, so it’s really important for you to remember to take it. There can also be some negative side effects, such as: a change in your sex drive, spotting or bleeding between periods, sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. In terms of cost, birth control pills range from $10 to $20 per pack (depending on your health coverage) and have to be re-purchased every month.

 

Hormonal injection

The birth control shot, taken every three months, contains the hormone progestin, which stops you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation.

Pros

The birth control shot has a 94 per cent effective rate and, If used correctly, you only need to think about birth control four times a year and is a great option for women who don’t want to remember to take a pill every day. The shot can also make you get your period less often. It’s also temporary, so if you want to get pregnant after you stop using it, you can.

Cons

You have to visit your doctor’s office every three months for your injection, and it only works if you get it on time, so it’s important to stay on schedule. There can also be some negative side effects: nausea, weight gain, headaches, breast tenderness, depression, and slight bruising where the shot was given. If you want to get pregnant after stopping this form of birth control, it could take up to 10 months after stopping to get pregnant.

The ring

The birth control ring (also referred to as NuvaRing) is a small, flexible ring worn inside the vagina. It prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into your body.

Pros

Like the patch, the NuvaRing is a good option for women who don’t want to worry about taking a pill every day. The NuvaRing only has to be inserted and removed once a month. The ring also has some perks and can help prevent or lessen: acne, bone thinning, cysts in breasts or ovaries, endometrial and ovarian cancers, anemia, PMS, and more. You can also still get pregnant right away once you stop using the ring.

Cons

Remembering to change your ring on time can be a challenge, and some women get side effects that include: change in sex drive, spotting or bleeding between periods, sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. It also doesn’t prevent against STDs.

Condoms

These are stretchy, thin pouches men wear on their penis during sex. Condoms provide protection for both pregnancy and STDs.

Pros

When used correctly, they have an 85 per cent effective rate. Condoms and internal condoms are the only methods of birth control that help prevent the spread of STDs, so it’s still a good idea to use them even when you’re on a different form of birth control.

Cons

For condoms to work well, they need to be used correctly every time you have sex. It might also take some time getting used to them.

Diaphragm

This is a shallow, bendable cup that gets inserted into the vagina. It covers a woman’s cervix during sex to prevent pregnancy.

Pros

When used correctly, it’s 94 per cent effective. The diaphragm is portable, reusable and hormone-free.

Cons

Diaphragms have to be used every time you have sex, and you have to use it correctly. They can be a little tricky to use correctly and can be moved out of place during sex. This method also doesn’t protect you from STDs.