Do you hate the pill? Non-hormonal birth control, while effective, also has side effects

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Alice Queen used oral contraceptives for years, but they kept causing her “severe pain and swollen breasts,” she says. Eventually she switched to non-hormonal contraceptives.

Hormonal contraception like oral contraceptives, the NuvaRing (a vaginal ring) and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD) work to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation and changing the cervical and uterine lining to make them less hospitable to a fertilized egg. Unfortunately, these treatments can work with a wide variety of Side effects. You may consider non-hormonal options if you have “a history of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis), migraines with aura. to have [or] increased blood pressure or when you feel uncomfortable with hormones, “says Christine Greves, MD, OB-GYN, at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

Contraception isn’t the only reason people use hormonal birth control. It can be prescribed to aid treatment polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), early menopause symptoms or acne, for example. In these cases, the hormones are key to the effectiveness of the treatment. [Listen to our Power to the Patient podcast about one woman’s journey treating her PCOS with and without birth control.]

If your goal is to avoid pregnancy, there are non-hormonal options. IUDs with copper instead of hormones have been around since the 1980s. In 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaginal gel Phexxi for birth control. Even without hormones, these options can have side effects. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Copper spiral

How they work: Copper affects the ability of the sperm to swim to an egg. The copper IUD retains its ability to prevent pregnancy for more than a decade, but it can be removed at any time if you change birth control methods or decide to become pregnant.

Possible side effects: When inserting the device, you may feel cramps and pain immediately. To manage pain, you can use over-the-counter treatments like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil or acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ask your doctor to prescribe stronger pain relievers. In rare cases, the IUD can damage the wall of the uterus and you will need to have the device surgically removed.

After the initial pain subsides, you may experience more bleeding or pain during the first three to six months of your period. This, too, should decrease over time.

Queen says she was bedridden for two days after the IUD was inserted. “Strong pain medication and determination helped me, but I’m not going to lie, I was very tempted to have it removed,” she says. After two days the pain subsided, although her next two periods were stronger and more painful than usual.

“As the pain subsided, I was able to manage heavier periods. And the fact that I didn’t have sore and swollen breasts was a positive compromise, ”she says. In addition to heavy periods, some patients experience breakthrough bleeding between periods.

It is also possible that the IUD will usually become infected within the first month. This can lead to symptoms such as stomach pain, foul smelling discharge, and fever. @Wealthyoptimist explains that she had to have hers removed after a severe infection spread to her blood.

@wealthyoptimist⚠️My TERRIBLE Copper IUD Experience! (Full story now on my TikTok) ⚠️ #copper #experience #fyp #GoBoldColorista #Sepsis #Birth control #nhs♬ Original sound – Sarah Hall

@wealthyoptimistCopper spiral horror story UPDATE‼ ️ #copper #experience #iudentfernung # Pelvic inflammatory disease #ovariance stawarness #fyp♬ Original sound – Sarah Hall

Although the copper IUD is more than 99% effective, a small number of women can become pregnant while using it. These women are at a higher risk a to experience dangerous ectopic pregnancyin which the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus.

distance: If you want to stop taking oral contraceptives, just stop taking them. However, to stop using an IUD, you will need to have it removed by your doctor. Once it is out of your body, your periods and fertility will immediately return to normal. The extraction process should be very quick as a doctor or nurse will grab the threads of the device and gently pull it out.

@jennifersharkReply to @allietee IUD out! #iud #iudentfernung #larc #paragard #mirena #Midwife #happy life #MakeMomEpic #mirena #liletta #Birth control #Contraception

♬ Monkeys Turning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod

When the IUD came out, some patients on Twitter described extremely painful experiences with no anesthesia and little or no other pain relief. Some said the cramps and pain persisted after the removal.

However, others, like Harmony Major, who had worn her IUD for 15 years, said they “barely felt” the distance. Queen had a similarly uneventful extraction. She was given general anesthesia and said the removal was “a breeze. . . It really gave me the idea that the insertion should have been under some kind of anesthesia – I can hardly believe that this option is not offered more often! “

Phexxi

Phexxi is a gel that you apply with a tampon-like applicator up to an hour before sex. It is 86 to 93% effective on its own, but it can also be used with other birth control methods such as condoms and oral contraceptives.

How it works: Sperm increases the pH of the vagina, making it less acidic and more inviting to sperm. Phexxi lowers the pH back to its normal acidity, which makes it harder for sperm to swim towards an egg. “Sperm cannot thrive in an acidic pH environment,” says Aparna Sridhar, MD, Gynecologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “This is a completely non-hormonal option.”

Possible side effects:

The most common side effects are vaginal itching, yeast infection, urinary tract infection, vaginal discomfort, vaginal discharge, bacterial vaginosis, and vaginal burning. In addition, the male partner may experience itching, pain, or burning sensation in the genital area, ”says Greves.

Alternatives

There are several other options that can be used in conjunction with or in place of the above procedure.

Barrier methods

You can use barrier methods like condoms, and diaphragms Birth control spongesthat physically prevent sperm from staying in your body and finding an egg for fertilization. These can be used along with hormonal contraceptives, Phexxi, spermicides, and IUDs. Pay attention to the materials that make up the devices. Some people are allergic to latex, the plastic that most condoms are made of, and some have lubricants or other coatings that can irritate your skin.

surgery

For those looking for a long-term or even permanent form of birth control, there are surgical procedures for both men and women. Men can have a vasectomy, a procedure that cuts the tubes that carry semen out of the scrotum so that semen cannot leave the body. Women can have a fallopian tube ligation, in which the fallopian tubes are separated from the uterus, making it impossible for an egg to get from the ovaries to the uterus to be fertilized. These are minor surgical interventions, but they come with the usual risks such as negative reactions to the anesthesia.

Breastfeeding

If you have recently given birth and are regularly breastfeeding every four to six hours, your body will not release an egg. If an egg is not released, it cannot be fertilized. As with oral contraceptives, this strategy is about 98% effective. Note that this method will only work for six months and only if you are on a strict diet for your baby Breast milk. That is, not a formula.

Spermicide

Similar to Phexxi, you apply spermicide with your fingers or an applicator before having sex. The chemical makes it difficult for sperm to move, and the gel itself can act as a barrier to your cervix.



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