What form of birth control is right for you?

With a recent study showing how hormonal contraceptives can cause depression, what are your other options?

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  • There are benefits and drawbacks to both hormonal and non-hormonal birth control. If you and your spouse aren't planning on a having a baby soon, it's important to know what birth control option is best for you:

  • Hormonal contraceptives

  • These types of contraceptives include birth control pills, depo-provera injections, vaginal rings and contraceptive patches and are all extremely effective in reducing your chances of pregnancy.

  • Hormonal contraceptives prevent pregnancy by continuously releasing hormones such as progesterone and estrogen into your blood stream.

  • Pros

    • Extremely effective if used correctly (not missing pills, changing patches regularly, getting a depo-provera injection every 12 weeks, etc).

    • Long-term effectiveness from methods like a birth control implant: This implant is kept in your arm for up to four years. Or, the intra-uterine system can prevent pregnancy for five years.

    • May regulate your period and reduce the symptoms that accompany your monthly cycle.

    • These methods do not usually interfere with sexual intercourse.

  • Cons

    • Does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

    • Some forms like "the pill" and vaginal ring can cause weight gain.

    • The depo-provera shot has been shown to reduce bone density.

    • Changes in appetite may occur.

    • Irregular periods are a frequent side effect.

    • Increases risk for mental health such as depression and anxiety.

  • A new study has linked hormonal contraceptives to an increased risk of developing depression. According to the New York Times, Danish researchers studied women between the ages of 15 and 34 and tracked their contraceptive use from 2000 to 2013. The results? "Over all, compared with nonusers, users of hormonal contraception had a 40 percent increased risk of depression after six months of use. Some types of contraceptives carried even greater risk. Women who used progestin-only pills more than doubled their risk... while those who used the levonorgestrel IUD (brand name Mirena) tripled their risk."

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  • With results like these, it's vital to know about effective methods of birth control that don't utilize hormones if you are concerned about your mental health. Here are a few options of non-hormonal contraceptives:

  • Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD)

  • IUDs are small, T-shaped devices made in part with a copper wire. They are inserted into the uterus and can remain there for up to five years. The copper on the IUD changes the chemical makeup of the uterus to destroy sperm.

  • Pros

    • Can be used while breast-feeding.

    • Long-term method of contraception.

    • No need to remember to regularly take a birth control pill.

    • Non-permanent pregnancy prevention.

  • Cons

    • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    • Period may be heavier.

    • Irregular bleeding or spotting can occur.

    • In rare occasions, the uterus may perforate.

  • Contraceptive sponge

  • A contraceptive sponge is a disposable sponge containing spermicide that is placed in the cervix. It kills sperm before they can enter. It can be used alone or with a male condom.

  • Pros

    • Acts as a barrier to prevent conception.

    • 12-hour protection.

  • Cons

    • It should be used with another form of contraception as an extra precaution.

    • Does not protect against STDs and STIs by itself.

  • Diaphragm

  • A diaphragm, other than the organ in your chest, is a latex cap that covers the cervix and stops sperm from entering.

  • Pros

    • Privacy needed to insert the diaphragm before sex

    • Chances of conception while using are 4-8%.

  • Cons

    • Increased chance of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).

    • Does not protect against STIs.

  • Spermicide

  • Spermicide can come in multiple forms such as a chemical cream, gel, foam or suppository that kills sperm on contact.

  • Pros

    • Protects against bacterial infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.

    • Can also be used as an emergency method if another contraception method fails

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  • Cons

    • Not completely effective if used alone.

    • Can increase your risk of HIV transmission.

    • Can irritate the skin.

  • Tubal Ligation

  • Tubal ligation is the medical term for getting your tubes tied. It is a procedure in which doctors disconnect the fallopian tubes from the uterus and renders pregnancy impossible.

  • Pros

    • The most effective choice of contraceptive in women. If a woman desires no more children, the effects are permanent.
  • Cons

    • Surgical procedure

    • The effects are permanent, so some women may regret their choice.

    • No protection against STIs.

  • Condoms

  • There are two versions, a male condom and a female condom and both are used to prevent sperm from entering through the cervix.

  • Pros

    • Inexpensive.

    • Protects against STDs and STIs.

    • 97% effective against pregnancy.

  • Cons

    • Can break if handled roughly

    • Those with latex allergies should not use

  • Whatever contraceptive you choose, know the pros and cons and consider your own health and happiness. Do your research, talk to your doctor, and take the necessary precautions to keep your body and mind healthy.

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Chakell Wardleigh has a Bachelor of Arts in English. She spends her days silently (mostly) correcting others' grammar. She adores all things nerd, such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare, and anything else that whisks her away from reality. She currently works as an editor for the FamilyShare team. You can usually find her with her nose in a book, laughing too loudly, or belting out songs from Hamilton.

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