Birth Control Requiring a Prescription
By: Lori Kremen
In order to obtain the following methods of birth control, a gynecological exam and prescription is required. As of right now, prescription birth control is only open to women, though scientists are working on a prescription birth control method for men. None of the prescription based methods of birth control prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Before using a prescription birth control method, women should take a blood test to make sure they are STD free and should also insist that their partner take an STD test as well.
The Pill; There are several varieties of the birth control pill. A quick visit to a gynecologist or your local planned parenthood can help you choose the one that is right for you. Normally, the pill must be taken every day and is more than 99% effective against pregnancy, provided you don’t forget to take it every single day, regardless of whether or not you plan on having sex. The side effects of the pill can include weight gain, water retention, irregular bleeding, and nausea. Smoking cigarettes can inflate other complications such as blood clots or stroke. There is also a risk of cancer from the increased estrogen levels in your body. Make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows you are taking the pill, when getting antibiotics. Drug interactions are possible. Some pills can be taken to regulate periods, or even clear your skin of acne. Yasmin has a different composition than that of the standard pill, and has even been said to encourage some weight loss. However, its manufacturer insists that this was not an intended result of Yasmin’s composition. Most of the weight lost in the first year was gained back over the next year.
Ortho-Evra Patch: This patch works exactly like the birth control pill, except that you only have to apply a new one once a week, as opposed to every day. These patches have a remarkable durability, remaining in place through swimming, sauna, enormous physical exertion, and showers. During the week of your period, you do not have to apply one. Side effects of the patch are exactly the same as the pill, with one exception. Using the patch as opposed to the pill increases the wearer’s chances of blood clots. Also, the patch contains almost twice the amount of estrogen the pill contains. If you have a history of cancer in your family, this may not be the option for you. Again you should consult a gynecologist before agreeing to use the patch and will need a prescription.
The Shot: There are two available birth control shots on the US market. The Birth control shot is useful for women who forget to take the pill, as it has to be administered infrequently. The first shot is called Depo-Provera. Only available via prescription, a gynecological exam is necessary in order to obtain this method. Depo-Provera must be administered by a gynecologist once every 13 weeks into either the arm or butt. The majority of women report having irregular bleeding between periods. After one year, most women also report losing their periods altogether. Side effects also include swollen breasts, bone loss (can be prevented by taking a calcium supplement in addition to daily exercise), headache, dizziness, anxiety, nausea, and weight gain (average about 3-5lbs)
The other known shot on the market is called Lunelle. This shot must be administered by a gynecologist or clinic every month, and requires a pelvic exam and pap smear for a prescription. The shot is immediately effective after administered. Side effects include skipped periods, irregular bleeding, weight gain, blood clots, stroke and heart attacks. These risks increase with smoking.
NuvaRing: Since NuvaRing came out in 2002, it has enjoyed an ever-increasing popularity. NuvaRing works very much like the birth control pill, with an effectiveness of 99%, except it only needs to be replaced once a month. NuvaRing resembles a small plastic bracelet, and is applied by placing it in the vagina, where it can remain for a period of 21 days. This method of birth control contains a smaller dose of hormones, and as such has a reduced probability of side effects, although the possibility of having side effects is not overruled. Because the drugs are administered through the vagina, they do not have to pass through the liver. Side effects include blood clots, stroke, heart attack, fluid retention and liver disease. Your gynecologist should be made aware of your family’s medical history, and you should have a full physical to determine if this is the right method of birth control for you.
Diaphragm: The diaphragm requires a prescription, but is not an internal method of birth control. The Diaphragm resembles a small sized latex bowl, which should be filled with spermicidal foam or jelly, and relies heavily on the barrier method of contraception, which literally blocks sperm from fertilizing an egg. The gynecological exam is necessary to “fit” it to a woman’s body. Once inside your body, it is effective for about six hours, and must remain in place for an additional 3 hours. The diaphragm has several advantages, including the possibility of increased spontaneity (so long as you insert it before foreplay begins). After six hours, the effectiveness of the diaphragm weans, but can be increased with an additional application of spermicide. DO NOT TAKE THE DIAPHRAGM OUT WHEN APPLYING ADDITIONAL SPERMICIDE. When acquiring this method of birth control, you should make sure you receive instructions on its proper use. DO NOT USE A DIAPHRAGM WITHOUT CONTRACEPTIVE FOAM OR JELLY.
Plan B – Emergency Contraception: Commonly known as “Morning after pill,” can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Plan B clinical studies show 85% effectiveness. One dose can cost anywhere from twenty-five to forty dollars, and the sooner you take these pills, the more effective they will be. If you are already pregnant, however, the pill will not have its desired effects. Therefore, manufacturers suggest that if in three weeks, you do not have your period; you should get a pregnancy test and consult a physician. Women over the age of 18 are able to purchase Plan B over the counter at a pharmacy, with valid identification. Women under the age of 18 can still purchase Plan B, but must have a prescription from a doctor. Also, side effects while mild can and will most likely include high amounts of discomfort and should absolutely not be your primary method of birth control.