Birth Control: Deciding
To choose or not to choose birth control: Your right. Your decision.
Deciding on a method of, or any birth control at all, is your choice. It's important for you to know you don't need to go to a health provider for safe, effective methods of birth control. Choosing and using birth control methods as directed can enable you to be sexually active and enjoy your sexuality and greatly reduce the likelihood that you’ll get pregnant. When you use condoms (male or female) you also reduce your risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Combining methods dramatically reduces your chance of pregnancy (sometimes called doubling up). But remember, with any form of birth control there is a risk of pregnancy.
Are all birth controls just as effective as one another?
The quick answer: Yes.
Barrier methods, spermicides or natural family planning, when used properly, are very close to being almost as effective as the Pill, the IUD or other combinations of drugs and devices. Warning: providers who favor the use of hormone-like drugs in pills and devices ignore the small difference in their “use effectiveness” and base their recommendation on the more impressive difference between the “theoretical effectiveness” of barrier methods, spermicides and natural family planning, and the more problematic drugs and devices. The manufacturers of these products employ “detail men” to hype the latest formulas and gadget designs to practitioners.
Lesbian or Gay sex partners aren't at risk for pregnancy. If you identify as LGBTQI, and you have a uterus and you have penis-vagina sex, birth control is needed if you wish to avoid pregnancy.
Your personal safety may mean your choice of birth control needs to be easy to get and to use without anyone else knowing. If you're being coerced to get pregnant and you don't want to be pregnant. If you're in a situation like that, you’re not alone. A 2011 study found that one in four young women reported that their partner had sabotaged their birth control or tried to get them pregnant when they didn’t want to be. Your partners should respect your decisions about birth control.
By knowing what your cervix looks like through your cycle you can prevent pregnancy and take control of your sexual and reproductive health. You have the choice to decide whether your future includes children at all, to delay getting pregnant until you decide the time is right, choose how many children, and how far apart they'll be born. Knowing what your cervix looks like and identifying your fertility during your cycle will help you decide what kind of birth control fits your life (and the method of birth control you use will probably change at different times in your life for many reasons).
Birth control methods impact people differently and no single method is the answer for every person. Having frank and honest conversations with partners and people you trust will help you decide what's best for your life. At times, you might decide to combine birth control methods for better effectiveness.
Taking control of your reproductive health with birth control and abortion is a decision you have the right to make for yourself. You have the right to expect government, parents, friends and partners to respect and support your decisions and anyone trying to stop, force or sabotage you when it comes to use of birth control or abortion, they're violating your human rights. Choosing or not choosing birth control: It's your right. It's your decision.
Is there an international conspiracy to control our fertility?
Yes. The foundations set up by wealthy eugenicists, usually white men, people like to fund agencies and health providers who dispense drugs and devices to young and poor women because they prefer birth control methods that are under a medical provider’s control.
Female’s reproductive behavior is a major concern to all social planners; the science of demography was developed in 18th century to study birth and death rates. Laws prohibiting abortion result in higher birth rates, producing more workers, soldiers, and laws allowing abortion result in lower birth rates. The sudden rise in the birth rate after the Second World War produced the “population bomb”, and public policymakers reversed this trend through getting states to reform abortion laws in the mid-century. Finally, the Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal throughout the United States. Today, so many females are using birth control and deciding to not have families, that the birth rate is so low that American females are not having enough children to replace the former generation.
While claiming to be morally against abortion, our state and federal legislators are trying to raise the birth rate by outlawing abortion, at least in some states. Religious leaders are organizing grass-roots protests in front of clinics attempting to coerce females to carry their pregnancy. The irony of the current situation is that females (often with the cooperation of their male partners) have historically regulated how many children they have according to their ability to give them a good life. They have not needed the state to interfere by passing laws to force them to produce more or fewer children. If the cost of giving birth and providing housing, child care and education were not prohibitively high, many females today would have a child.
Our position on chemical birth control: We don't support or recommend chemical birth control (hormone-like manufactured drugs) because of the proven severe risks to women's health they cause, and the yet undiscovered harm to women's bodies. Besides being in the control of the physician, drugs and devices are not as safe as the methods of birth control that we can obtain over the counter. The drug and device manufacturers lie with statistics by comparing the risk of complications, including death, from drugs and devices, to the risk of complications and deaths in giving birth. The term "bioidentical" is intended to mean manufactured but similar to our hormones. That's false advertising. Birth is dangerous, so almost any method of birth control is far safer than birth. But, they do not directly compare the safety of drugs and devices to the alternative methods.
If you're not safe or are being coerced or pressured to get pregnant when you don't want to, we support you fully in having all choices available and knowledge to control your reproductive freedom and keep yourself safe.
"As Feminists, we know it's tough to be critical of hormonal contraceptives when they have given us a quality and freedom, but as documentary film makers, we want to empower women to be able to make informed decisions when it comes to their contraceptive." ~ Ricki Lake in the documentary Sweetening the Pill, based on the book by Holly Grigg-Spall. Find out about the documentary. Go to our library to order Holly's book.
Some information on this page is curated from Birth Control Comparison a Cedar River Clinics and Feminist Women's Health Center supported website.
Dangers Of Chemical Birth Control
"According to the Western model, pregnancy is a disease, menopause is a disease, and even getting pregnant is a disease. Dangerous drugs and devices are given to women, but not to men - just for birth control. I've reached the conclusion that to many doctors Being A Woman Is A Disease." ~ Barbara Seaman co-founded the National Women’s Health Network, a watch-dog for women’s health issues and the FDA. Barbara’s advocacy for women about the adverse effects of ERT drugs was vindicated, along with other women’s health activist groups (such as the National Women’s Health Network and the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers) by a 2002 National Institute of Health study which found that ERT drugs did not protect women from heart disease, but in fact caused an increase in breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. Further studies since have indicated that some of these risks continue even after women stop ERT. Quoted from the Women's Health Specialists website.
Hormone-like drugs have many very serious risks which rare; they have serious risks which are uncommon and some very concerning risks that are fairly common. Mild depression has been found to be fairly common.
Understanding Your Body
Knowing When You're Fertile Or Pregnant
When you know what your cervix looks like throughout your cycle, you’ll know how to recognize when you’re fertile and when you’re pregnant. Fertility changes take place within one or two weeks of conception. Typically, you’ll ovulate in the midpoint of your menstrual cycle, and if sperm and egg meet up, you can tell by the time you’d expect your regular period, whether your cervical os is more closed or open with some reddening. You can be the first to know when you’re fertile or when you’re pregnant.
Your uterus size will also give you an idea of where you are in a pregnancy. You can have a friend or your partner help you check your uterus size at home, which will help you detect pregnancy by size, shape and texture of your uterus. Typically, a uterus is the size of a large unshelled walnut or plum when you’re not pregnant. A woman who is about seven weeks pregnant has a uterus about the size of a lemon. Nine weeks, an orange. Twelve weeks, a grapefruit.
Knowing when you're pregnant and understanding your choices once you know you are pregnant helps you manage your reproductive health and will help you decide whether you want to give birth, arrange adoption, or get an abortion. Visit How To Do A Self Exam and How The Cervix Changes to get help on how to understand your own body.
Birth Control Methods & Effectiveness
Women's Health In Women's Hands advocates for your choice, your right to choose the method of birth control you use if and when you use it. The effectiveness claims of a birth control method measure pregnancy avoidance. What that means is, over one year of use if the claim is a 99.5% effectiveness, out of 1000 women using that method 995 avoided pregnancy and 5 got pregnant. When you see a range, the higher number is how well the method worked when used perfectly every time. The lower number is based upon typical use. So for example as a comparison, if no birth control is used, 85% of sexually active women will get pregnant in one year.
A note about HIV/AIDS & Sexually Transmitted Infections
Despite having multiple choices for birth control, the only way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS or Sexually Transmitted Infections is to prevent blood, semen or vaginal secretions from passing from one partner to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The best ways to prevent transmission are for partners to use female or male condoms, dental dams or plastic wrap, and cover shared sex toys.
Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)
FAM or the Fertility Awareness Method of birth control lets you track your cycle and involves understanding your body and how your cervix looks, including whether or not your mucus is fertile mucus by feeling its consistency what cervical mucus looks like, feeling the consistency of your mucus to tell whether you're fertile, what your cervical mucus looks like. Noting the appearance of the cervix and the cervical os throughout your cycle helps you to calculate where you are in your fertility cycle.
To be sure that no sperm makes it through the cervix when you’re fertile, it’s important to use a barrier method for about a week each month during your fertile days.
Go to the Cedar River FAM page for more information.
Barrier methods of birth control stop sperm from entering the uterus and reaching your egg. Barrier birth control do not have the side effects of hormone-like drugs or IUDs. In general, barrier methods are less effective but have fewer side effects than hormonal methods or IUDs.
Barrier birth control methods include male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, spermicides, and contraceptive sponges.
Hormone-like birth control drugs prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. They work by thickening your cervical mucus which deters sperm from entering your uterus, and they thin the lining of your uterus which prevents your eggs from implanting. Hormonal birth control includes the pill, the patch, vaginal rings, and shots (like Depo-Provera).
Visit the Cedar River Clinic's birth control comparison chart or Bedsiders clinic finder for details and information on hormone-like birth control and access.
Long term Methods
Long term birth control includes hormonal implants, progesterone IUDs, copper IUDs which are often referred to as LARCs (long acting reversible contraceptives). LARCs are effective for 3, 5, and 10 years depending on method.
Sterilization (tubal ligation for women or vasectomy for men) is typically used as a permanent birth control method. Both can be reversed depending on how much damage to fallopian tubes or vas deferens has occurred. Both tend to be lengthy, difficult and expensive processes.
Visit the Cedar River Clinic's birth control comparison chart or Bedsiders clinic finder for details and information on hormonal birth control and access.
Emergency Birth Control
Emergency contraception has been around for over 30 years and is effective for avoiding pregnancy up to 5 days after having unprotected sex or when other forms of birth control have failed. You may have heard this method of birth control called the morning after pill but there are other EC options than pill form.
The method you decide to use depends on a few things like which is easiest for you to access, when you had unprotected sex, whether you've used the pill, a patch or ring in the last 5 days, your height and weight, and if you're breastfeeding.
Para Guard Copper IUD: inserted by your care provider within 5 days of unprotected sex reduces the risk of pregnancy up to 99.4%.
Find out about Para Guard at Birth Control Comparison
Non Prescription methods (aka the morning after pill): A pill or combination of pills you take after unprotected sex to avoid pregnancy and is available over the counter to women 17 and older. This is a method you can keep on hand.These work by giving your body a large dose of synthetic progestin hormone that interrupts your hormones in different ways depending on where you are in your cycle. They're effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but most effective within 24 hours. Options are Plan B, Plan B One Step. Find out more about over the counter emergency birth control at Birth Control Comparison
Prescription method: Ella is a one pill method with 30 mg of ulipristal acetate, a progesterone receptor modulator. It is effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex and requires a prescription. Find out where to get Ella and how you can have an online medical consultation to get your prescription. Find out more about Ella at Birth Control Comparison
Where To Get Birth Control
Access: Where to get birth control
Depending on your state, you can call your local County Public Health department or family planning clinic, or talk to your care provider to find out where to get prescription birth control, or, you can arrange delivery depending on where you're located.
Use BedSider's finder tool to find a health center using your zip code. Their database has a very wide variety of care providers listed from midwifery practices to hospitals, including sources for emergency birth control.
The current administration is a clear threat to women's right to choose their reproductive health. Federally, abortion is legal in the United States. But anti choice lawmakers state by state are chipping away at women's right to choose how, when, where and with whom they will or will not have children. You can visit the Guttmacher Institute website where you'll find a map that has up to date information about the laws and anti choice movement in your state.