Contraceptives 101: Where We're At In 2021
Before you get it on, you might want to think about getting *it* on—birth control, that is. For babes not keen on pregnancy, birth control is a must. And many forms of birth control also protect against STIs, which is of huge importance!
However, with so many types of contraception methods out there, how do you know which birth control type is best? It can be super tough to work out which method is right for you, so we’re here to help.
Wondering which birth control has the least amount of side effects? Or what’s new with birth control in 2021? Here’s a rundown of everything that’s happening with contraception at the moment (though keep in mind that your doctor or local family planning clinic is always the best source of info, helping you find the best choice for your health and needs).
Perhaps the most well-known birth control method is the condom. You’re probably familiar with the male condom, which covers the penis and protects against both pregnancy and STIs, when used correctly. Condoms should be used with lubricant to avoid friction and breakage, but are definitely a no-go for anyone with latex allergies. Of course, foreplay and some self-love can always help with natural lubrication, too.
Another option is the female, or internal, condom. These are inserted into the vagina, providing a barrier. These can be tricky to insert correctly, though, so don’t rush.
There are plenty of types of hormonal contraception beyond the pill, including the implant, vaginal ring, IUD (intrauterine device), and emergency contraception, aka the morning-after pill.
These methods work to stop ovulation, but they all need to be prescribed by a doctor. They also don’t prevent STIs, so you’ll only want to use them when you’re in a committed relationship or else combine them with another contraceptive method, like condoms.
Many womxn find hormonal contraception convenient and easy to use. While the pill requires you to remember to take it daily, other methods, like the implant, provide protection for several years.
Here’s a quick overview of hormonal birth control options:
- The pill—The contraceptive pill is taken daily, with three weeks of ‘active’ pills, followed by one week of placebo pills. It’s possible to skip the placebos if you don’t want to have a period. To make life easier, most womxn on the pill get into the habit of taking it at the same time each day.
- Implant—This tiny, matchstick-sized device is placed just under the skin of your arm and can provide around five years of pregnancy protection, which is pretty impressive. It can also be removed at any time.
- IUD—This is a small, T-shaped device inserted into the uterus by a doctor or nurse. It releases a hormone called progestin, which stops pregnancy. It offers an impressive duration of 3–5 years, or even longer if you have a copper IUD. Some people do report that insertion and removal can be slightly painful.
- Birth control shot—Depo-Provera, or the birth control shot, is an injection of progestin that stops pregnancy for around three months.
- Vaginal ring—Another hormonal method is the vaginal ring, a soft and flexible device that you insert into your vagina. While the ring isn’t as popular as the pill or IUDs, it’s effective and gives you about four weeks of protection per ring.
- Morning after pill—If your primary birth control method has failed, or if you’ve experienced a sexual assault, your pharmacist can give you the morning after pill. It’s effective as a contraception method up to 120 hours afterwards.
Which birth control is the healthiest and most natural? Some would say the rhythm method—but it’s also the one with the most room for error.
The rhythm method involves tracking your menstrual cycle (and often taking your temperature daily), helping you work out exactly when you’re ovulating. Then, you simply avoid sex on those days. Some couples swear by this method, but it can be tedious and definitely isn’t for everyone.
It’s not every day that a new birth control hits the market, which is why it’s so exciting to hear about Phexxi. Approved by the FDA in 2020, it’s a prescription-only birth control gel that you apply before sex, similar to a spermicide.
It’s non-hormonal, as it works by actually lowering the pH of your vagina, which makes it hard for sperm to reach the eggs. For best results, you’ll need to follow the instructions exactly, but can also combine it with another birth control method for extra protection.
We’re psyched to see new developments in birth control space, giving the independent gals of the world more autonomy and reproductive choices. However, we’re still waiting on the male birth control pill…!
While diaphragms are no longer as popular as they once were, many womxn still use them. A diaphragm is a flexible silicone dome that fits into your vagina, sort of like a tampon, blocking your cervix. You’ll place it inside before sex then leave it in at least six hours after.
The diaphragm is an eco-friendly option, since it’s reusable and can last around two years, as long as it’s washed and dried after each use.
So, what is the best birth control in 2021?
With so many choices, how’s a gal supposed to work out which one to choose? Here’s the thing—we can’t tell you which method is best, because it all comes down to personal choice and circumstances.
We recommend doing more research on each method, then seeking advice from your doctor about which is best for your lifestyle and health. If you feel a bit funny talking to your family doctor about contraception, there are plenty of clinics, like Planned Parenthood, where you can get advice in a completely non-judgmental setting—no matter how you identify.
Reproductive choice and freedom are a huge part of feminism, so we encourage you to live your life as you want it. These days, you’re sure to find a contraception method that will match your needs!