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Is Long-Term Contraception For You?

Posted in Personal Health 05 Mar, 2015

With so many contraceptive options out there, it can be difficult to decide which one is going to work for you. The deciding factors vary from person to person and the choice you make can depend on any number of things. For example, if you're in a long-term relationship and having regular sex then you might prefer a different contraceptive to someone who will only be having sex occasionally. There's also the question of permanency. How long do you want to be protected for?

Some women may want to rule out long-term contraception as an option; if you think that you might want to become pregnant in the near future, then it's probably better to opt for short-term hormonal contraceptives. But if you know for sure that you'll require contraception for several more years, then a long-term option could be perfect for a number of reasons.

The stability of a long-term contraceptive is, obviously, one of its main draws. Knowing that you are safe for a set period of time is a relief for many women and it's also a good choice for those who feel they may forget to take or replace a short-term option such as the pill, patch or ring. Long-term contraceptives can also be desirable for women who are not in a relationship but know they will be having sex sporadically - being protected in the long-term is helpful when you cannot be sure when you will be having sex.

There are a number of choices available if you are looking for long-term contraception, and it's worth comparing all of them if you want to find the right option for you. All these methods are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Intrauterine System (IUS)

The IUS is inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional and can last up to five years, at which point it must be replaced to ensure you stay protected. It works by releasing the hormone progestogen, which causes the cervical mucous to thicken and also changes the uterus lining so that a fertilized egg is less likely to stick. The downside is that if you decide to try for a baby you will either have to wait until the end of the five years or have it removed by a doctor or nurse. However, once the IUS is removed your fertility should return to normal.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The IUD is similar to the IUS but releases copper rather than hormones. The copper stops sperm reaching and fertilising an egg. This treatment is preferable for women who cannot tolerate hormone treatments. As with the IUS contraceptive, you will have to return to a medical professional if you decide you want to have children after the contraceptive has been implanted. The IUD can also make periods longer, heavier or more painful.

Contraceptive Injection

Contraceptive injections last between 8 and 13 weeks and are an excellent choice for any woman looking for mid to long-term protection. This contraceptive is a good option for women who are taking medication, as it does not affect it, and those who think they may forget to take a daily pill. The injection contains progestogen, which stops ovulation and thicken cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. A potential downside is the need to regularly visit a medical professional to renew your contraception. In addition, it can take some time for your periods and fertility to return to normal once you stop having the injection.

Contraceptive Implant

This is a small, flexible rod, which is inserted under the skin of the arm. Like the injection, the implant releases progestrogen, preventing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus. It is effective for three years, but you can have it removed sooner. It can affect the regularity of your periods, but once it is removed, they and your fertility should return to normal. The implant will need to be taken out by a doctor or nurse, who will numb the area with a local anesthetic and make a tiny cut in order to remove it.

Choosing your contraceptive is an important factor in ensuring you can enjoy a healthy, safe and comfortable sex life. With so many existing options, you should be able to find one that suits your needs.

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