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by Michele Shackelford, staff writer
The pill is one of the more popular forms of birth control. It contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone and prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation. The pill comes in a pack of 21 or 28 pills, which are taken orally once a day. When a women stops taking the pill, she will have her period until she begins taking the pill again.

There are also pills that can be taken consecutively for 12 weeks. Then after an inactive week, the 13-week cycle starts over.

Statistics have proven that 5 to 8 percent of women taking the pill accidentally get pregnant, usually because of misuse.

The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted disease and can have side affects such as nausea, weight gain, irregular menstrual bleeding, tenderness of the breasts, blood clots, mood change, and dizziness. Still, it is an affordable, safe contraceptive for women.

Women do have other choices. A vaginal ring is a small, flexible, transparent ring that is inserted into the vagina; it stays in for three weeks and is removed for one week. While in place the ring releases the same hormones as the pill, estrogen and progesterone, but it is more convenient because women do not have to remember to take it daily.

The ring is as effective as the pill, and like the pill, does not protect from STDs. The ring has the same side effects as the pill and a higher risk of blood clots.

Intra-uterine Devices, IUDs, are also a more recent form of contraception. They are popular with older women, women who are unable to use the pill, and women who desire a long-term form of birth control. An IUD is a flexible, T-shaped structure that must be inserted into the uterus by a physician. It contains the hormone levonorgestrel, which blocks sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg, thins the lining of the uterus, and stops the release of the egg from the ovary.

This method of contraceptive lasts for one to 10 years and must be removed for one to become pregnant. IUDs are 99.9% effective, and are the best way to protect against pregnancy. Side effects can include anemia, weight gain, headaches, increased blood pressure, acne, depression, and decreased sex drive.

Women’s choice of contraceptives has expanded greatly in the past 20 years. The ability to chose which method is right for you makes it easier to use and accommodates more women.

Next issue: Plan B and the irrationality of keeping women from it.


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