It is important for students at the University Rhode Island to understand and debunk any myths and misconceptions about contraceptives, be aware of the most common methods and know how to procure them on campus.
There are many methods of birth control available, some forms work better than others and some work differently for different people so it is important for any woman considering the use of contraceptives to research and discuss the options with a healthcare professional.
While birth control is a sensitive topic not too many people are willing to delve into and share their preferences on, it is “important we discuss and weigh the options as they directly impact our health,” Emma Rohnstock, a freshmen at URI who expressed concern in educating women about their options, said.
The most commonly known method of contraception is the pill, first approved for contraceptive usage in the 1960s, it is deemed one of the most reliable contraceptives, with only a 1 percent failure rate with a majority of those failures stemming from people who admitted to occasionally forgetting to take a few doses. The pill is a tablet taken daily that contains estrogen and progestin which prevents eggs from leaving the ovaries and generates a thick cervical mucus that keeps sperm from reaching the eggs, preventing fertilization and pregnancy. While referred to as simply “the pill” there are many different types and brands each offering different dosages for what is needed. Usually two or more types are tried before a woman settles on the pill that is right for her. Often when dosages are too high or too low hormones are at an imbalance which can lead to bleeding between cycles or missing cycles completely. Some of the women polled by The Cigar, said they have experienced similar side effects.
The birth control implant is an effective and convenient method where a small rod, about the size of a matchstick, is inserted into the upper arm by a healthcare provider. The implant, much like the pill, prevents pregnancy by releasing progestin that keeps eggs from leaving the ovaries so that conception never occurs. The procedure is safe and simple, taking only a few minutes but working for up to three years. On average the cost is between $400 and $800 but is widely regarded as one of the most popular options with only a 1 percent failure rate.
“I prefer the implant better than the pill because I don’t have to remember to take the pill every day which is really convenient for a person who is really forgetful,” Shiala Williams, a freshman this year at URI who decided the implant was right for her.
Williams said the implant was painless and she would strongly recommend it. Â She has no qualms about the implantation knowing it was what she wanted from the very start.
Other methods include an IUD (Intrauterine Device) implant that lasts up to 12 years, a birth control shot taken every 12 weeks, a patch worn three weeks out of the month and then there are the self inserting methods such as the nuva ring, cervical cap, today sponge and the female condom. Self inserting methods statistically result in more failures because they tend to be situated wrong or move out of place during intercourse. While not everyone has bad experiences it should be acknowledged that while IUDs Â prevent pregnancies by affecting the uterine lining, complications sometimes occur after removing the IUD such as periods not returning even years after removal. Another rare, but occurring problem is that the IUD could puncture the uterus and result in serious health complications in what is known as “perforation”. While this is not a preemptive method of contraception it is beneficial to know that health services offers the Emergency Contraceptive Pill, available without prescription, at the pharmacy for students who are 18 and older for a fee of $30.
In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancies contraceptives containing the hormones progestin and estrogen such as: the pill, the patch, the implant, the shot and NuvaRing, provide users with serious health benefits. They regulate the menstrual cycle, alleviate cramps and pain caused by menstruation, reduce other symptoms of menstruation such as headaches, migraines, and depression, lessen or lighten the flow of periods, keep hormones in balance which can reduce acne and the risk of cysts or lumps forming in the breasts, lowers chances of cancer in the ovaries or lining of the uterus and decreases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease which often causes infertility.
It should also be understood that many of these methods have serious side effects that need to taken into account such as nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, decreased libido, depression, weight gain, blood clotting, higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Knowing the options and their benefits and side effects is not all the information, one still needs to know where to get it and for URI students a short walk to health services is all it takes.
As was explained by the nurses inside the Women’s Clinic located in the Potter Health Services Building, any female concerns such as physical exams, pap smears, laboratory testing and contraceptive options can be dealt with by appointment or walk in. When a female enters the Women’s Clinic inquiring about her choice for birth control she is sat down and it is explained to her the options available, including the corresponding benefits and side effects of each particular method. The office can then write out prescriptions and depending on what insurance one has and what method they go with a fee is worked out. The process is very structurally organized yet conversations are kept light to keep the patient feeling relaxed, according to nurses.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to contraceptive options, and hopefully the availability of resources and knowledge this campus provides will help to make decisions easier, safer and within one’s price range.