THE OTHER CONTRACEPTIVES
According to a survey by the Spanish Contraception Society (SEC), the contraceptive methods most used by Spanish women are mainly condoms (36%) and the oral pill (17%). From there, there is a sharp drop in the rest of the options: the hormonal IUD is used by only 3.8%, the copper IUD by 2.9%, the vaginal ring by 1.9%, and none of the that remain – the patch, the mini-pill, the subcutaneous implant or the intramuscular injection – alone reaches 1%. Instead, more opt for definitive methods such as tubal ligation (3.8%) or vasectomy (4.7%).
These are surprising data, because they reveal that the alternatives are not well known. Probably because there is a lack of information and facilities to access them. In addition, it is a subject that is rarely consulted, especially by young women, and there are still myths and misgivings regarding the use of hormones, their side effects and their impact on fertility (if this is your case, or it is an issue that worries you, in this post you can expand the information). This also explains why Spain is, along with Portugal, the European country that uses condoms the most as a contraceptive, and the one with the lowest rate of users of the pill and other methods of modern contraception. Which confirms the results of the previous survey.
The fact that condoms are widely used in Spain is not a negative fact, on the contrary, since it is a “barrier” method that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But whether it is the reference contraceptive method for the majority of the population or the only one that is sometimes used is indeed worrisome, especially if we take into account that it is not always used as it should, that is to say: it is placed in the right, from the beginning of the relationship and without having to be « negotiated«. In addition, some women indicate that there are men who refuse to wear it, or admit that they do not always use it in their relationships. But to protect yourself against STIs and prevent an unwanted pregnancy, the ideal thing, and what experts always recommend, is to use the double method : an effective contraceptive + condom , something that only 15% of women do regularly .
In this post we summarize some of the main characteristics of the newer contraceptive methods, as well as others that are not so new but less known and used. But remember that before choosing you must inform yourself well, since not everyone can use any method. It must be adapted to each person. “In addition, in the first months of use or change, you always have to follow up to see if it is comfortable and if it is well tolerated,” says Dr. Núria Parera , gynecologist at Dexeus Mujer.
Quarterly combined pill : it is an alternative to the classic pill. It is taken for three months and then you rest for a week, so you only have your period four times a year. Advantages? In addition to being very effective (99%), it can be useful if you have premenstrual discomfort, painful periods or endometriosis.
Minipill: Contains no estrogen, just a hormone similar to natural progesterone. Its effectiveness is as high as that of combined contraceptives, but it does not include a rest period and can sometimes cause irregular bleeding. Advantages? It can be a good option during lactation, and also if you are over 35 and smoke or have estrogen contraindications.
monthly vaginal ring. It has the same composition and effectiveness as the combined pills. You have to remove it after three weeks and rest one. Advantages? It is a monthly method that avoids the problem of forgetfulness and that you can apply yourself. If you take it off, it maintains its effect for three hours. In addition, it can relieve premenstrual symptoms and reduce bleeding and pain associated with the period. Cons: Some women may need to practice a bit to get it on the right way.
Three-year subdermal implant: it is a flexible and thin rod. It is placed under the skin. It releases the hormone progesterone and lasts for three years. Pros: Insertion is quick and safe, and convenient if you want long-term contraception. It also greatly reduces menstrual flow. Cons: It can cause you to have more irregular periods.
Quarterly injections . It releases only progestin. Its effects last from 8 to 13 weeks. Advantages: it is very effective and allows you to forget about taking oral pills or to renew the contraceptive for several months. Cons: May cause menstrual irregularities.
weekly patch. It is as effective as the pill. The application is weekly: it must be used 3 consecutive weeks and leave a 4th rest, in which a bleeding similar to that of the period appears. Advantages: avoid forgetfulness. It can be useful in case of irregular bleeding, just like the pill and the ring. If it accidentally comes off, you have 12 hours to put on another one.
Hormonal IUD . It is a small T-shaped device that is placed in the uterus. It releases only progestin. It lasts from 3 to 8 years, depending on the brand. Advantages: It can help decrease the duration and amount of bleeding or even make periods lighter, shorter or stop.
copper IUD. It is a small T-shaped device that does not contain hormones. It releases copper ions, which are toxic to sperm. Advantages: can be used for 5 years. It is a very effective long-term method. It is useful when you cannot use hormonal contraceptives. Cons: it can cause more painful periods and more abundant bleeding. It must be placed and removed by a professional. At the time of placement it can bother.