And shouldn't ask your grandma.
Besider.org, a free support network for birth control users, is an excellent resource for women who want to get the basics about different contraceptive methods, guides to awkward-free sex talks, and a system of reminders so you never miss a pill or an appointment. For those of us who have taken on a birth control method based on cocktail-fueled suggestions from girlfriends or a rushed prescription from a taciturn doctor, it can be effective to have a comprehensive, even hilarious, resource that's not bogged down with medical jargon or biased promises. Dr. Colleen Krajewski, a member of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and a spokesperson for Bedsider, held a Reddit AMA to answer all of your questions about birth control, sex, and the weird shapes of our cervixes.
Using Two Methods of Birth Control is Normal and Effective
Dr. Krajewski explained that a normal woman has a 1 out of 10 failure rate with the pill, patch, or ring, so doubling up on hormonal methods and barrier methods is actually a brilliant idea. "I wish I saw it more often," the doctor added. Just make sure not to double up on condoms—the friction between them can cause tears.
IUDs Won't Lower Your Libido
For women who have complained that the pill has completely zapped the sex drive from them, they might want to consider trying an IUD. "Since the hormone levels in your blood while using an IUD are extremely low, your libido should go back to normal over time," says Dr. Krajewski. No, really, they're very low.
Your Cervix Can't Be "Too Small" or "Too Angled" For Childbirth
Even if you fear you have a miniscule cervix or a monster-sized womb that points the wrong way, it won't effect your ability to have a child. "I always say uterus and cervix position are like curly or straight hair. We're all different — you just need to use different products!"
Most Women Lose Their Periods on a Progestin IUD
Women with irregular or painful periods (think: nausea, cramping, migraines) should look to progestin IUDs. "About 2 out of 10 women lose their period by 6 months and 5 out of 10 women lose their period by 2 years," advises Dr. Krajewski. But only progestin IUDs can really help with these symptoms. "Mirena does a better job with periods than Skyla."
Plan B Can Change Your Periods
After taking Plan B, you might experience irregular periods, late periods, early periods, or very long periods. That's fairly normal. Plan B can affect your cycle immediately after taking it. However, it shouldn't have long term effects. If your period has been heavily disrupted because of Plan B months later, you need to see a physician.
Some Methods Can Last For Over a Decade
For ladies who aren't into the daily responsibility of popping a pill, IUDs might be a good alternative. "The FDA labeling is 10 years for a Paragard, but there's good data that up to 12 is still effective," says Dr. Krajewski.
The "Return to Fertility" Time is Different for Every Woman
For some methods of birth control, the day you stop taking them is the day you can get pregnant again. For some methods, like Depo Provera, it can take almost over a year for you to get your period back. Dr. Krajewski advises that if you're not trying to get pregnant, don't rely on a "return to fertility" period. Every method has a different waiting period and every woman's body reacts differently to hormones or lack thereof. Some new mothers think breastfeeding is an adequate method of birth control, but only when following a strict regimen. Always immediately use another method when you discontinue another.
There's No Right Method for Everyone
Sometimes switching from one pill to another isn't going to solve all of your issues with oral contraceptives. That's because there is no one right method for everyone. Maybe instead you should try something else entirely. Dr. Krajewski explains, "There's plenty of other methods you can try. The most effective are IUDs and subdermal implants."
Image via Bedsider.
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