Big Birth Control News: Most Women Are Still Not Using the Best Method of All

doctor giving woman birth control pills

A new CDC study on birth control is making headlines for quite a few reasons, but one of the biggest takeaways is that clearly, women need a serious wake-up call!

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Turns out, women are using the pill over any other form of birth control -- even a way better, more effective and cost-effective form: Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), which is the fancy scientific way of saying IUD. Oh, sure, its use is on the rise ... but still seriously underpacing the pill, which makes NO sense.

Come on, ladies. We should know better! And if it seems like I'm so fired up about this, because I'm taking it personally, that's because I am. I learned firsthand just how problematic the pill can be.

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As someone with a genetic hormone imbalance that has messed with my cycle off and on my whole life, gynecologists thought I was a prime candidate for the pill since I was 16. When I first tried it, I felt off-the-wall moody and gained 20 pounds, which docs blamed on the pill's estrogen. This was before pharmaceutical companies debuted new, "low-dose" pills that contain less than 50 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol and the synthetic progestin drospirenone. Once those came around, however, I was told the most popular one, Yaz, would be perfect for me!

And it seemed like it really was -- at least the first year I took it. After more than a couple of years, though, it was a different story. I began to feel lethargic, hazy, unmotivated, blue, uninspired, FLAT. A friend of mine, also on the same pill, felt similarly, so we conspired to see if we felt better if we went off of it.

Miraculously, within only a week or so, she regained her libido, motivation to work out, could sleep better, the works! I also felt more like myself again. Hurray!

But that enthusiasm waned when I soon learned I had gallstones and other side effects that wouldn't soon, or ever, dissipate.

Around that same time, an article ran in The Independent, in which the author complained of the same side effects my friend and I experienced, writing that the pill "can have negative repercussions on mood as [women] stop ovulation, flatten natural hormone fluctuations to create a very low unchanging level, produce a deficiency in B vitamins, and meddle with the workings of the pituitary gland."

Studies were coming out that showed Yaz could triple women's risk of developing blood clots, which could lead to strokes, heart attacks, and death. A class action lawsuit followed after a lot more women and their families came forward, reporting a link between their prescription and gallbladder disease, stroke, blood clots ... even death.

And yet, five years later, more women are still turning to oral contraception over other forms of birth control? We're passing up IUDs -- like the Paragard, which is completely nonhormonal, or Mirena, which releases only the progestin levonorgestrel and is better for women who tend toward heavier periods. We're missing out on their convenience and the fact that they're particularly perfect for teens or moms who have enough on their plates and don't want to have to remember to take a pill every say. And we're saying "thanks, but no thanks!" to their failure rates, which are far lower than the pill, condom, spermicide, patch, or diaphragm.

Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe what that is to me!

Thankfully, there's promise: LARC use is doubly as common among women ages 25 to 34 than women younger or older than that age range. Clearly, that age bracket is the most sexually active and in-the-know about these things, so with hope, women who are younger and older will take note and get on the bandwagon soon, too. The future of safe, cost-effective, and low-risk birth control couldn't be more clear.

What form of birth control do you use, and why?

 

Image via iStock.com/belchonock

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