Currently, we have access to various contraceptive methods, and effective pregnancy prevention, understood as a way to avoid conception altogether and as a family planning strategy, is an important aspect of a woman’s and couple’s life.
There are many forms of contraception to choose from: natural, hormonal, chemical, and mechanical methods. Emergency contraceptive pills are also considered a form of contraception. Each method of preventing pregnancy has its pros and cons, and the choice of a particular method should be individually tailored to the patient’s needs and possibilities.
In this article, we will present contraceptive methods excluding natural contraceptive methods and emergency contraceptive pills.
Which contraception method will be best for you?
Let’s start by emphasizing that it should always be consulted with a gynecologist, and additionally with another specialist if the patient is under such care. It should also provide you and your partner with the greatest comfort and be in line with your beliefs.
You can answer the following questions for yourself:
- Are you afraid you’ll forget to take the pills regularly?
- Are you interested in long-term pregnancy prevention, even for several years?
- Will you regulate unplanned pregnancies by using male contraception?
Contraceptive effectiveness – Pearl Index
You and your partner should be certain that the chosen contraceptive method is as effective as possible. This effectiveness is defined using a special index called the Pearl Index. It indicates the number of pregnancies in 100 women using a specific contraceptive method within one year. The Pearl Index for not using any contraceptive methods is 85. The lower the index, the greater the effectiveness.
This category includes contraceptive pills and contraceptive patches.
How do contraceptive pills work?
The action of the pill involves regular release of hormones to prevent pregnancy. As a method of contraception, pills rank second in terms of frequency of use in Poland (condoms have been in first place for years). This form is suitable for young women because it’s a hormonal contraception that can support the treatment of menstrual disorders or acne.
Contraceptive pills are divided into single-component (minipills based on progestin) and two-component (based on progestin and estrogen). You should choose the one that suits you in consultation with a gynecologist.
Two-component contraceptive pills
They contain gestagen and estrogen.
Progesterone prevents ovulation, thickens cervical mucus making it impermeable to sperm. It also changes the uterine mucosa so that it becomes unfriendly to a fertilized egg. Estrogen enhances the action of progesterone and prevents irregular bleeding.
It’s important to note that two-component contraceptive pills increase the risk of venous thrombosis.
Single-component contraceptive pills
These are minipills based on progestin.
Contraceptive pill effectiveness
The effectiveness of oral contraceptives is very high, nearly 99%. However, it’s crucial to remember that the effectiveness depends on the regularity of pill intake (especially for single-component pills, which should be taken regularly at the same time). The Pearl Index for two-component pills is 0.0-0.1, and for single-component pills, it’s 0.5.
Contraceptive patches belong to the category of modern short-term contraception. They are changed every week (7 days). This is also hormonal contraception, but different from pills in the way hormones are administered (based on the same hormones).
How do contraceptive patches work?
Once attached to the skin (usually on the arm, but can also be placed anywhere except the breasts), they start releasing hormones gradually into the bloodstream. The effectiveness of contraceptive patches according to the Pearl Index is 0.5. Because the correct amount of hormones needs to enter