Health - Treatments
By: - at February 18, 2013

Choosing Hormonal Birth Control

(What To Take Into Account When Choosing Hormonal Birth Control)

Choosing a Birth ControlMany women choose hormonal birth control as a reliable way to prevent pregnancies, and also to regulate the menstrual cycle.  It is highly effective as a contraceptive and helps women who have other ovarian or medical issues.  Women need to be aware about potential, painful harmful side effects.  Women have to find the type of birth control that suits their personal preference and body; although these donít always match up.

Different Options And How They Work
There are multiple types of birth control that are ultimately meant to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but are also used to regulate hormones.  There are oral contraceptives which are most often used.  They are synthetically made female hormones (estrogen and progestin) which are the hormones normally produced by the ovaries.  These pills must be taken once every day at the same time.  Another type of birth control is by hormonal injections.  These shots are distributed every three months or thirteen weeks and provide protection from pregnancy for that amount of time.  Hormonal implants are possible by implanting tiny rods the size of a matchstick under the skin.  This type of contraception lasts for three to five years, depending on the type.  There are also hormone patches and rings.  The patches are just a normal square that sit on the skin and distribute hormones.  They can be placed anywhere on the body, but must be changed every seven days and the location of the patch must also be changed weekly.  NuvaRings are rubber rings that are two inches across and are as flexible as a rubber band.  The ring is inserted into the vagina just like a tampon and once the ring is in place it remains there for three weeks at a time.

All of these types of birth control work by suppressing the pituitary gland and stopping the development and releasing of eggs in the ovaries, otherwise known as ovulation.  The progestin helps prevent the sperm from reaching the egg and changes the lining of the uterus.  The mucus of the cervix is also changed, which makes it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg.

Positive Effects of Hormonal Birth Control
Birth Control ImplantSome of the obvious positive effects are the prevention of pregnancy, predictable menstrual cycles, and lighter periods.  This also results in less painful menstrual cramps, which affect numerous teen girls and women.  If you are taking any of these hormonal contraceptives and use them correctly, they are more than 99% effective.  This means that if out of one hundred women that use birth control perfectly, one or less women will become pregnant.  However, since perfect use is very difficult for both teens and adults the actual effectiveness is given a 92%.  At this rate eight out of every one hundred women would become pregnant a year, which are still pretty low odds.  These types of contraceptives can also help other hormonal issues women may have as well.

Birth control pills help women who deal with abdominal pain from ovarian cysts and they stop their production.  Girls who have extremely heavy periods and excruciating menstrual cramps can receive some relief through a few of these methods.  Vaginal rings can be even be used to treat endometriosis, a medical condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus appear and flourish outside of the uterine cavity and symptoms become more acute with the menstrual cycle.

Negative Effects of Hormonal Birth Control
However, with all of these positive breakthroughs also come a lot of side effects and risks.  Most of them are temporary and minor, but some can be very threatening to a womanís health.  With hormonal contraceptives almost all women will become nauseated, some worse than others, until the body adjusts to the new hormone levels.  Usually the nausea will disappear, but if not another brand of birth control may be a better fit.  One of the most common side effects is called breakthrough bleeding, which is unexpected bleeding that occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle for the first four months of the use of the pill.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, birth control pills can also make a period absent.  Sometimes the uterine lining becomes so thin that menstruation can disappear completely.  Many women become uncomfortable about this because they no longer have the monthly reassurance that they are not pregnant.  For some, this is the only reason contraceptives are taken and this can be very disheartening.

Women can also experience weight gain and the production of acne, which is something very hard to deal with for teenagers and young adults.  The weight gain that some women may see is usually not that severe, but it can happen as a result of hormonal change.  Also while birth control may cause just a few temporary break outs here and there, it can be more serious than that for some people.  I have a friend that had clear skin her whole life.  She decided to get the Depo-Provera injection at the end of high school and she received it every three months for about a year and a half.  At about the one year point she started to notice that her face was breaking out more than usual.  Her mom works at a gynecologist office and told her that because of the hormone imbalance it may be causing her to break out so she stopped the shots shortly after.  She thought that because she wasnít receiving the hormone treatment anymore that her acne would instantly disappear and her complexion would clear up.  Two years later her face is still covered in acne and scars.  She has made multiple visits to the dermatologist and no expensive medicinal facial wash, cream, or pills will help clear her face.  Keep in mind this is just one incident of a negative reaction to contraceptive.

Some women will also experience headaches and mood changes.  While these side effects seem harmless and more of a simple annoyance than an actual risk, they are still painful, uncomfortable, and can interfere with daily life.  These symptoms can last for months and unless they realize it, women may not know that their birth control is what is causing the problems.

Serious Health Risks
What a lot of women donít know is that there are some very serious risks with using birth control. These risks are rare, but should still not be taken lightly.  These risks include blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, liver tumors, gallstones, and jaundice.  Blood clots in the legs can cause pain, break off and travel to the lungs where they can potentially be fatal.  Blood clots that travel to the brain can cause strokes and clots in the coronary arteries can cause heart attacks.  If blood clots go undetected they can be deadly.  NuvaRings can also cause vaginal infections and irritations.

Personal Experience
Birth Control PillsFrom a personal perspective, I currently take a pill every day that keeps me safe from an unwanted pregnancy and takes away the pain of my ovarian cysts, which is the first and foremost reason that I take this medication.  My doctor never really clarified the side effects of my birth control prescriptions.  Around the time I started to take my birth control pills I would get very sick and nauseated in the early morning.  At the time, however, I didnít know it was from my medication.  I thought that I was just excessively tired and waking up at six in the morning for school was taking a toll on me.  It progressed to the point where I would wake up and feel so dizzy the moment I stood up that I began vomiting the bile from my stomach. As time passed by though, I felt better.

My doctor and parents both thought I had vertigo because my symptoms seemed to match and it runs in my family.  I soon realized though that this was not the case. I have an awful memory and for a short period of time I just forgot to take my pills.  My stomach felt fine and I thought to myself, ďOh Iím feeling better, I donít need to keep taking these.Ē About a month passed and I started to get the severe pains again.  I started up back on my medicine and the very next morning I felt the same sickness that I had previously.  The medication was making me sick because my body wasnít used to it, and because I take it at night the effects hit me the hardest the following morning.  Even when the medication is fully in my system, missing a day and deciding to take two pills to make up for it will make me feel ill.  I become disoriented; nauseas, dizzy, hot, and then I vomit even though there is nothing in my stomach.  Itís almost like my body rejects the medicine. I have to deal with these side effects though because no other form of birth control like the shots or rings will prevent my cysts from forming.  Itís very stressful at times, but I definitely remember to keep up with my pill schedule now.

While the pros tend to outweigh the cons for hormonal contraceptives, it is still a prescription that must be well thought out.  Many tend to overlook the negative effects that thousands of women have to deal with on a daily basis.  Young girls need to really consider the risk that they are putting their bodies up against instead of just believing birth control is fool proof and that everyone should be taking it to prevent pregnancy.  Birth control is ultimately a womanís decision but it is one that should be carefully discussed with a physician.  For many teen girls, instead of turning to hormonal birth control as the first option they should really consider abstinence because of the effects that certain types of birth control may have on their bodies can be unpredictable.  Women should always discus contraceptive choices with a physician such as an OB-GYN or gynecologist.





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