The College Girl's Guide to Birth Control

College Girls
I'm 20, in college, and have recently become sexually active again. Before this, I had a boyfriend but we didn't have sex frequently enough that I thought that I needed birth control (I know this sounds dumb) but we just used condoms and I would just wait for my period to come every month.

My period has been honestly good to me, I've been tracking it for over 3 years on 1 app, and it comes when the app predicts it perfectly, plus or minus a day. It's honestly a pretty heavy period and lasts 6-7 days usually, with cramps on the first day and a half (1 ibuprofen usually kicks them out) and then heavy bleeding for 3 days. I don't have any mood swings or anxiety/depression (I'm just a little more emotional than usual which isn't very emotional), which is why I'm super afraid to start BC because it will mess with the regularity of my cycle and give me anxiety or depression. However, I do have a boyfriend who I am very sexually active with and it's time that I really need to get something safer than condoms.

I've been reading about copper IUD and it sounds great but I really really don't want to have heavier cramps and heavier periods! But I know hormones will mess up my cycle, so at this points, it's a lose-lose. I've been reading about ultra-low dose hormone pills but there are some that say they result in breakthrough bleeding or other complications. I also have a high libido and I really don't want that to suffer lol.

There’s no question--a high percentage of college students are sexually active, and that’s okay. In fact, one-third of college students are having sex at least once a week. With sexual activity, though, comes mounds of responsibilities, and, sometimes, people aren’t necessarily informed on how to have safe sex.

Most of us are familiar with condoms as a form of birth control and prevention of STIs. Condoms were probably the only contraceptive method taught to most students during sex education if they were taught about contraception at all. Many women seek other alternatives for pregnancy prevention rather than relying solely on condoms because of the worry about unwanted pregnancies that are caused by unsafe sex, unreliable condoms, or irresponsible sex partners.

Women most often turn to “the pill” for a personal form of contraception. Something that has been stigmatized (but also used) for decades, the pill can be an interesting conversation among girls and women. There are the lucky few who had the introduction to the pill as teens and support of their parents, but there are still girls--women--in college who are completely and entirely uneducated about this or other forms of birth control and are left with unanswered questions: Are there other birth control options? How/where do you get it? How much does it cost? What will my parents say?

Safe sex is extremely important, especially when trying to put a college career first. This is why women need to be informed about contraception in order to make a decision about whether or not it’s right for them.

Are there other birth control options?

Though the pill is the most commonly discussed method of birth control, there are actually plenty of other options for women to use! Here are some birth control methods most often used among women:

1. The Pill

The pill is just as effective as it is popular.

Pros: It can regulate your period, it prevents pregnancy (leaving women with only a 9% chance of an unexpected pregnancy) and it’s usually the cheapest form of birth control.

Cons: You have to take it every day at the same time in order for it to be fully effective and it’s infamous for making you gain weight.

2. Birth Control Implant

Birth control implants, in my opinion, are super cool (I even have one!). These are most commonly seen promoted by professional athletes because of their convenience, especially for those that are physically active.

They last for years at a time, they can essentially stop you from having a period and they are very effective (women only have about a 0.05% chance of pregnancy) at preventing pregnancy.

Cons: They can be expensive (we’ll talk about this later) and they have to be inserted and removed by a professional.

3. Birth Control Shot

Shots are also a popular form of birth control, especially among younger women. This could be a good option, especially for those of you who want something between the pill and an implant.

Pros: It lasts for a couple of months at a time and it prevents (only about 6% of women experience an unintended pregnancy) pregnancy.

Cons: You do have to return to your doctor about every three months for a new shot and it is also known to make you gain weight.

4. Intrauterine Device (IUD)

IUDs are becoming more and more popular among women that are not looking to become pregnant for a certain period of time. In fact, you probably even know someone with one.

Pros: It lasts for up to twelve years and is extremely effective (women have about 0.2-0.8% of becoming pregnant) at preventing pregnancy.

Cons: It has to be inserted and removed by a professional and women are more likely to have complications with this form of birth control.

5. Female Condoms

For those of you who don’t want to be creating a chemical shift in your body, you can always turn to female condoms. Yes, there is such a thing as a female condom! These are inserted into the vagina before having sex and it works to catch your partner’s ejaculation.

Pros: It can be inserted hours before having sex, it isn’t a medicine that has to be prescribed and it does help to prevent pregnancy.

Cons: You do have to insert it before sex and remove it afterward, so it doesn’t come with the “always protected” coverage that other forms of birth control have and it leaves the highest rate of unexpected pregnancies among women, at 21%.
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