When it comes to contraception, the choices are plentiful. Today we have preservatives, the ring, the shot, the intrauterine device, the insert, natural methods, and options for men as well. Yet still whenever there is any mention of birth control, everyone nearly always immediately thinks of oral contraceptive. There is a reason for that. Creating and distributing oral contraceptive is a multibillion-dollar industry with over 100 million currently diligently taking it every day. But for the tens of millions of other people using contraception, injectables, patches, and implants are available as well.
Regardless of the type of contraception, the bottom line is: if it needs to be ingested, injected, or inserted into the body, it will contain a certain level of hormones, which can be helpful for a lot of things.
Luckily, today birth control has become less taboo than it once was and access to birth control has been made easier.
Girls as young as 12 are often prescribed oral contraceptive, not only as a means to prevent pregnancy, but also for heavy periods, acne, or hormonal imbalances. But since there are so many brands and contraceptive options out there, it can be hard to determine what will work best for one's body and lifestyle. Don't fret, here are 20 stats about birth control that many women have never even heard about, which may make choosing a birth control method that much easier.
20 LAM Is Not Just For Sheep
Lactational Amenorrhea Method or (LAM) is a form of birth control for women who have recently had a baby and decide to exclusively breastfeed. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, out of 100 women who use Lactational Amenorrhea Method LAM during the first six months following childbirth, one to two of them may become pregnant.
LAM prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries when a mother breastfeeds her child as often as the baby wants, day and night, and does not give the baby any other foods or liquids. And no, pumping breast milk is not a substitute for breastfeeding in terms of preventing ovulation.
LAM only works if you exclusively nurse your baby on demand. LAM will not work as a birth control method once solid foods are introduced to your baby.
19 Let's Talk Percentages
As far as contraception goes, the oral contraceptive is highly effective. Of 100 women who use the pill 5 to 9 will become pregnant in a year.
However, if women follow the exact instructions for taking oral birth control – meaning they take it at the same time every day no exceptions — they prevent pregnancy in 99 percent of all cases.
But lots of people don't do that. The oral birth control option only has a three-hour window where it is still okay to take and it will be as effective as if you took it at the same time. So, in real life, oral contraceptives have about a 9% failure rate.
18 A Controlled, Sterile Environment
So taking birth control can actually leave you sterile. Well, many birth controls have been linked to infertility, especially with long-term use, says the Centers for Disease Control. For the birth control shot, it can take up to 1 year for your fertility to return to normal after the injection wears off, depending for how long you use it, so it may not be suitable if you want to have a baby in the near future.
And as for oral contraceptives, it changes your cervical mucus production, which over time can cause the mucus-producing cells to degrade… which ages your cervix and narrows the cervical canal. A study conducted in 2004 found that the amount of time it would take to get pregnant following long-term oral contraceptive use was two to three times longer than after condom use.
17 Gaining in numbers
Although there’s no concrete, scientific evidence and many doctors deny that people gain weight when they start birth control, there is still a chance that birth control may make your weight fluctuate like a yo-yo.
Many women have experienced significant weight gain shortly after starting birth control, with no other obvious lifestyle changes, including diet.
"After going on the Pill, with no changes to my diet or exercise, I gained 15 pounds in 2 months! I decided shortly after to stop taking it – and let me tell you, that weight took a lot longer to lose than it did to gain," said Sarah, birth control user.
16 Head Games
Headaches, dizziness, and vertigo are all side effects of hormonal birth control according to planned parenthood. We asked some women what their experience was using the hormonal birth control pill, and though many found it relieving longer-term users felt it best to discontinue use.
“I never used to get headaches or infections. I considered myself a really healthy person, but in my first year of being on the Pill, I got thrush three times and had headaches on and off. Only after I’d stopped taking it I connected the headaches to the days when I was on the sugar pills – basically in ‘withdrawal’ mode from the Pill. I had headaches coming off it too, but they’re over now,” said Melissa, a long-time birth control user.
15 Yep, Still Susceptible
Intrauterine devices, oral contraceptives, and hormonal injections can actually increase your risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection or disease, the American Council on Health and Science reports.
Researchers found women who used Depo Provera, an injectable form of contraception, were more than three times as likely to become infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea over the course of a year than women who used nonhormonal contraceptives.
But it is not all bad, although women who use the injectable are more likely than women not practicing contraception to acquire chlamydia, they are less likely to acquire trichomoniasis or bacterial vaginosis or to be diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, according to a study.
14 Don't Discriminate
When researching birth control methods it is also important to know your rights. Because prescription contraceptives are used exclusively by women, failure to provide coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices in health plans that otherwise cover prescription drugs violates the Civil Rights Act.
Since this treats medication needed for a pregnancy-related condition less favorably, it constitutes discrimination on the basis of gender, which is illegal. Luckily, the number of women getting free birth control has quadrupled under Obamacare, recent research by Vox shows.
But for one-third of women who still pay for birth control, even after Obamacare has mandated it to be free, they are likely under older insurance. But these insurance plans are disappearing and as that figure declines, the number of women accessing no-cost contraceptives will likely continue to grow.
13 How Many Of Us Are There?
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 62 percent of women are on some form of birth control, with birth control pills being the most common form of birth control. All birth control pills are hormonal. Some contain a hormone called progestin, while others contain progestin and estrogen.
All of them work by preventing women from ovulating and causing the cervical mucus to thicken, which makes it more difficult for a sperm to penetrate and make contact with an egg if the woman is ovulating.
And as for those little "sugar" pills at the end of the pack, "women can safely skip that last week of pills and still prevent pregnancy," Vice President of Planned Parenthood's external affairs Dr.Vanessa Cullins said. "But that doesn't mean the last week's pills are just sugar pills." Some of those pills contain iron or folic acid intended to work better or aid in women's health.
12 Even For Him, It Can Take A While
Finally, something guys can do to help out with birth control. Although a number of men might shriek at the thought of anything sharp going near their private areas, vasectomies are actually the most effective form of birth control, with only a 0.15 percent failure rate. Although they do not prevent sexually transmitted infections, they still work well.
And getting one is a quick surgical procedure usually taking around 20 to 30 minutes. But, you should still wait to have any form of intercourse or at least use a backup method. According to Planned Parenthood, vasectomies can take up to 3 MONTHS to become effective.
11 Women Should Still Wait A Week
Despite the marketing that totes the simple and quick nature of the shot, you should still wait a week after your injection to make sure it actually works. The contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera, Sayana Press or Noristerat) releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.
And as for exactly when the birth control shot will start being effective depends on when you get it. If you get the birth control shot within the first seven days after the start of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy immediately. If you get it at any other point during your cycle, you’ll need to use a backup form of birth control, like condoms, for the first seven days, according to planned parenthood.
10 They Don't Protect Against Everything
Condoms are thought to be the Hoover Dam of birth control methods, but as it turns out, they may not the golden protective answer to end all sexually transmitted infections one may have thought they were.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, condoms do not protect against anything that can spread through skin to skin contact. Meaning you can still get HPV, syphilis, Herpes, Molluscum, and Public Lice while using a condom.
Take that for your trustworthy condom. The only real way to make sure you do not contract these diseases is by abstaininwg from intercourse or getting tested and staying monogamous.
9 There May Be Pain Involved
If you are thinking about hormonal birth control one thing to consider is that there may be some pain involved in the first three months as your body gets adjusted to the new dose of hormones involved.
Yeah, three months. That’s a relatively long time.
And, usually, your side effects will last for the entirety of those three months unless you find ways to cure the breast soreness, headaches, bloating, stomachaches, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse. If you take birth control on and off, it may be easier for your body to adjust the second time around.
But just remember, everybody is different so although pain with hormonal birth control is a possibility, there is no guarantee it will happen to you.
8 Pregnancy Symptoms?
Did you know that the Pill can actually render the same side effects that are symptomatic of pregnancy? Like acne, breast tenderness, bloating and nausea. Yeah, way to go.
In a way, it's like your body is acting like it's pregnant. "There is some truth to the idea that birth control pills trick your body into thinking you're pregnant," says Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood's vice president of external medical affairs.
"When you're pregnant, you don't ovulate, and the cervical mucus is thickening to prevent anything from easily getting into your uterus."
And when you think about the fact that the Pill basically creates a state of permanent pregnancy in your body, prohibiting you from getting pregnant, it’s not so surprising that women who have been on it for many years then struggle to have a baby after they stop taking the Pill.
7 Get Out Of The Mood
If your reasoning for starting birth control is to prevent pregnancy and to help put your mind at ease whenever you are intimate, keep in mind that women on the Pill are more likely to have a lower libido.
It’s been found that women on the Pill produce up to seven times more of a sex hormone-binding globulin; a protein which binds with testosterone and takes it out of circulation. Lack of testosterone leads to low libido and less fun in the bedroom.
The National Institutes of Health also state that women on the pill do not secrete couplins – a volatile fatty acid in the female reproductive organs that stimulates male interest. The best alternative? A non-hormonal or low dose hormonal IUD.
6 Take A Swing
One of the most significant stats about birth control is how it affects women emotionally. What? Did you think all those hormones only affected you physically? Two women told us how contraception changed their lives.
“I tried about 6 different contraceptive pills over 4.5 years, hoping I’d find one that worked," said Aimee. "I had horrible mood swings and long ‘low’ times on all of them, eventually gave up on the Pill and switched to a non-hormonal method. My friends said that they’d missed me and it was good to have me back again.”
“I got put on the Pill at 16 for heavy periods. It helped make them more manageable, but my emotions became a roller coaster. I was up and down so much I started to think I was losing the plot. I came off a couple of years later and felt like myself again” Stacey told us.
5 Feeling Sick
If you are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms or having nausea, some birth control may help. Women experiencing perimenopausal symptoms such as irregular bleeding, and hot flashes might find some relief in taking the Pill.
“If you’re a non-smoker, and aren’t dealing with high blood pressure or badly controlled diabetes, the Pill can be taken right up to menopause,” says obstetrician Dr. Hilda Mirosh. “It’s often helpful for irregular bleeding in your 40s, as well as some hot flashes.”
However, if you are of a certain age other birth control methods could affect your bone health. According to the National Health Service, using the shot continuously for more than two years may cause some thinning of a woman’s bones. However, normal bone growth should return when a woman stops taking the birth control shot.
4 Serious Growth
Several types of hormonal birth control, such as the intrauterine device, can cause ovarian cysts – or growths ranging from tiny millimeters to centimeters on the ovaries. Cysts are typically not painful unless they rupture but can cause hormonal imbalances, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Although recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the Pill as a carcinogenic, finding that it is associated with an increased risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer.
Roughly 12% of women using the intrauterine device will develop ovarian cysts that may require surgical removal, according to the makers of Mirena, a brand of IUD. To help reduce the incidence of ovarian cysts many doctors prescribe the Pill.
3 Forget Your Mouth
Ready for something weird? If you have an upset stomach and are worried you may toss your lunch and by default, your birth control pill, you can just insert the pills where they are meant to stop pregnancy.
That's right. You can safely insert two pills into the female reproductive organ to help prevent against pregnancy.
Gynecologist, Dr. Mirosh says using the reproductive organ to dissolve pills actually works quite well.“It seems to work quite well and the studies found that there wasn’t an elevated rate of pregnancy,” she said.
But the key is to use two Pills instead of one because the absorption isn’t as good as the digestive tract. However, this method is for short-term use only and may result in a bit of discharge. So, once your stomach has settled, take the Pill orally as it was intended.
2 Feeling Low?
You may have seen depression listed as a possible side-effect on your Pill packet.
But for many women, depression linked to hormonal birth control is a bit more serious than what that tiny warning label makes it out to be.
One study conducted by women’s mental health specialist Professor Jayashri Kulkarni surveyed a large group of women over 18 years old with no clinical history of depression and found that the women on the Pill were twice as likely to suffer from depression as other women using other forms of contraception.
Another study published in JAMA revealed that women who take the dual-hormone Pill were 23% more likely to receive a diagnosis of depression, while those who take the “mini-pill,” progestin-only, had a 34% higher risk.
1 Now You Can Turn Back Time
Most LARC is recommended for adolescents or women who have recently given birth, despite this only 20% of women around the world use LARCs, according to The United Nations Family Planning Report. The medicine in Implanon, the implant is contained in a small plastic rod that is implanted into the skin of your upper arm. The medicine dose is released slowly into the body. The rod can remain in place and provide continuous contraception for up to 3 years.
References: US Department of Health and Human Services, Planned Parenthood, National Health Service, Vox, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Centers For Disease Control, American Council on Health and Science, and The United Nations