A Woman’s Guide to Contraception

There are many forms of contraception available to women today, and choosing the right one can be confusing for you.

 

Women use contraception for various different reasons – the most common indications are for birth control, regulating menstrual cycles, reducing heavy or painful periods, and controlling hormonal imbalances in conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

 

Before initiating contraception, it is always advisable to have a detailed discussion with your doctor. She can help you decide which form of contraception best suits your health profile and lifestyle.

Today’s article is a quick guide to the commonest types of female contraceptives.

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1.) Combined Oral Contraceptives/Oral Contraceptive Pill

Known by most as “the Pill”, this is the most frequently prescribed form of contraception.

Administered as a daily tablet, the Pill contains 2 female hormones – estrogen and progesterone.

It works by preventing ovulation, and is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, if used consistently and correctly.

Its other advantages include:

  1. regulation of menstrual cycles
  2. reduction of excessively heavy periods
  3. relief from period related pain
  4. improvement in acne

However, some women do experience adverse effects with the Pill.

Some of the most frequently reported effects include nausea, headaches, intermittent spotting/bleeding and breast tenderness.

The Pill may also increase your risk of blood clots – particularly in women who are obese (BMI > 25), or are smokers.

 

If you have either of the above 2 conditions, a history of breast/gynaecological cancer, poorly controlled blood pressure, or a history of blood clots, it is best to let your doctor know, as she may recommend an alternative form of contraception.

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2.) Hormonal Contraceptive Patch

The patch is a useful alternative for women who find it difficult to take the Pill everyday.

It contains the same hormones as the Pill, and is also 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The patch is worn on the lower belly, upper arm, buttocks, or upper chest (away from the breast), and is changed every 7 days.

Each cycle requires the use of 3 patches over 3 weeks, followed by a patch free week, during which regular bleeding will occur.

 

If you have any of the conditions that make you unsuitable for use of the Pill, you should not use the contraceptive patch as well.

 

3.) Progesterone only Pill/ Mini-Pill

For those who cannot use the combined oral contraceptive pill, or women who are breast feeding, the progesterone-only pill might be an alternative solution.

This method is best for breastfeeding moms, as it contains no estrogen, and thus does not affect breast milk production.

 

The major disadvantage with the mini pill is that it must be taken at the same time every day.

If your dose is delayed by 3 hours or more, contraception is no longer guaranteed, and you will be advised to use additional protection for the next few days.

The mini-pill has similar side effects to the combined oral contraceptive pill, and can also cause intermittent spotting/bleeding, even with correct use.

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4.) Hormonal Injections

For some women, depot hormonal injections are a convenient alternative to daily tablets. Administered in the deltoid (upper arm) muscle once every 3 months, the injection contains synthetic progesterone that inhibits ovulation.

It is >99% effective as a contraceptive method, and is also suitable for women who are not eligible to use the combined oral contraceptive pill, and for breastfeeding moms.

However, some of its disadvantages include a longer delay in return to fertility, and irregular bleeding.

 

5.) Implanon

Like the depot injection, this is another medium-term contraceptive option.

Instead of an intramuscular injection, Implanon is a small rod-shaped implant that contains synthetic progesterone.

The implant can provide 3 years of contraception, and is 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy. Additionally, its birth control properties begin within 24 hours of insertion, if implanted within the first 5 days of mensus.

The insertion can be done easily in your doctor’s office during a regular consultation. The skin in your inner upper arm will be numbed with an injection of local anaesthetic, before the rod is implanted.

The implant can also easily be removed when necessary, and fertility usually returns quickly after removal.

Some side effects of the implant include irregular bleeding, acne, nausea and headaches.

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6.) Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

IUDs are a form of long term contraception, and are available as progesterone-releasing (Mirena), or plain copper IUDs.

Depending on the type that you choose, it can provide up to 5 – 10 years of protection.

IUDs are small T shaped frames that are inserted via the neck of the womb (the cervix), and sit inside the womb cavity, preventing ovulation and implantation of an egg in the womb lining.
Prior to insertion, your doctor may recommend a pregnancy test and STD tests, to minimise complications with your IUD.

 

If you have a known or active history of pelvic infection, cancer of the cervix or uterus, or previous ectopic pregnancy, please inform your doctor, as an IUD may not be suitable for you.

 

To read more about how the IUD is inserted, click here

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7.) Barrier Contraception

While all the of the methods listed above are extremely effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly, none of them protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Using barrier contraception, in the form of male or female condoms, can help to reduce your chances of an STD. However, condom failure rates are high.

Reasons for this include slippage with incorrect withdrawal, incorrect timing or placement of condom, breakage and inappropriate lubricant use.

Your chances of falling pregnant with condom use can be as high as 15%, making it a less effective method of contraception compared to other methods.

 

Read more on Long- Team Contraception – here

 

Choosing the right modality may seem challenging, but if you’re interested in starting contraception, come in and speak to our Women’s Health team!

Any of our dedicated female doctors can review your individual health profile, and help decide which contraceptive method would best suit your lifetsyle and needs.

Contact our Women’s Health team at these locations for all your women’s health and wellness needs.

 


Need a Female Doctors?

Our Clinics:

1.) Dr Tan and Partners @Bencoolen

Main Doctor: Dr. Rachel Ng

Address:
180 Bencoolen Street,
#02-20, The Bencoolen
Singapore 189646

Telephone:  +65 6884 4119

Operating Hours:
Monday – Friday
9.00am – 5.00pm

Sunday
9.00 am – 1.00 pm

Selected Public Holiday – Closed


2.) Dr Tan and Partners@ Robertson

Main Doctors: Dr Deepa and Dr Jonathan Ti

(Anonymous HIV Testing is available daily too)

Address:
11 Unity Street,
#02-07, Robertson Walk
Singapore 237995

Telephone:  +65 6238 7810

Operating Hours:
Monday – Friday
8.00am – 9.00pm

Saturday and Sunday
9.00 am – 2.00 pm

Public Holiday – Closed


3.) Dr Tan and Partners @Katong (East Coast)

Main Doctor: Dr. Jessherin

Address:
184 East Coast Road,
Singapore 428890

(Alongside Katong 112, next to Bank of China)

Telephone:  +65 6635 2551

Operating Hours:
Monday – Thursday
9.00am – 1.00pm and
4.30pm – 9.00pm

Friday, Saturday and Sunday
9.00 am – 1.00 pm

Selected Public Holiday – Closed


4.) Dr Tan and Partners @Scotts

Main Doctors: Dr. Elaine Loh & Dr. Justin Sii

Address:
9 Scotts Road,
#06-06 Scotts Medical Centre,
Singapore 228210

Telephone:  +65 6694 2348

Operating Hours:
Monday – Friday
9.00am – 5.00pm

Saturday
8.00 am – 1.00 pm

Sunday & Public Holiday – Closed


Other Women’s Sexual Health Articles:

  1. Vaginal Yeast Infection (Thrush)
  2. A Women Guide to Contraception
  3. STD Trichomoniasis and Green Fishy Smell Discharge
  4. STD Chlamydia Screening & Treatment
  5. STD Women’s Gonorrhoea Symptoms & Treatment
  6. STD Women’s Herpes Infection
  7. Urine Pain & Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU)
  8. Bleeding After Sex
  9. Abnormal Vaginal Discharge 
  10. Women’s STD Screening, Testing and Treatment Service

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