The 1960s brought about the feminist movement, also known as Women’s Liberation, which effected many changes in the Western culture such as the increased awareness and activism related to women’s suffrage, domestic violence, sexual harassment, equal employment opportunities, and reproductive rights.
During those times, a new birth control method promised to revolutionize a woman’s sex life. While most women felt a new sense of control over their bodies, their careers, and future — a great number of men also welcomed the idea of the Pill as it fostered a new attitude of sexual openness.
In spite of opposition from the religious sector, there are now a lot more options for both men and women when it comes to family planning. Today, more than 40 different configurations of the pill are already available, as well as other birth control methods to effectively prevent pregnancy. Women are presented with choices as to when and how they want to get pregnant, including other aspects of the reproductive cycle, menstrual pain, bleeding patterns, and even premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Over the years, advances in contraception and birth control methods continue to take the center stage. Here’s a look at some of the newest options and how they can work for you:
Plan B also known as the Morning-After Pill, its main purpose is for emergency contraception. Recently approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use in women aged 18 and older, Plan B is used after unprotected sex has occurred, say, you forgot to take the pill, or sex happened unexpectedly, or even when a condom got broken.
Plan B can be taken even if you are currently using other hormonal birth control methods or hormone replacement therapy. Used within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, it will lower the chance of pregnancy by 89%. It does not cause abortion since Plan B will not work when you are pregnant. However, it shouldn’t be used as a regular form of birth control.
Implanon – an implanted form of progestin-only birth control method already approved by the FDA. It is a matchstick-sized rod implanted in a woman’s upper arm, where it releases a slow but steady stream of synthetic progesterone for up to three years. This means effortless, round-the-clock protection from pregnancy. A similar device called Norplant entails the use of six rods that were implanted in a woman’s arm. However, it resulted in problems including scarring and bleeding. In rare cases, major surgery and even plastic surgery became necessary to repair the damage to the skin. Norplant was eventually taken off the market.
Seasonale – the first extended-use oral contraceptive that limits menstrual cycles to four per year. Using estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation, active pills of Seasonale are used for 84 consecutive days, followed by one week of inactive pills, during which time you experience bleeding.
Lybrel – the first continuous, low-dose oral contraceptive with no breaks and no periods. It provides the same low level of hormones everyday using estrogen and progestin to keep you from having your regular monthly period. Breakthrough bleeding and spotting is likely while taking Lybrel. However, for the majority of women, these effects usually decrease over time.
Extended Hormone Oral Contraceptives provide you with more days on hormones and shorter hormone-free intervals between cycles, these pills are said to reduce menstrual-related symptoms, including the severe form of PMS known as Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
Essure similar to tubal ligation, it is an abdominal surgery that “ties” or otherwise blocks the fallopian tubes so egg and sperm cannot meet. The Essure procedure does the same thing, but without the need for an abdominal incision or general anesthesia. The process is irreversible and should never be used unless you are 100% certain you do not want to become pregnant in the future.
Though birth control methods have had opposition right from the start and even up to this time, their contribution to improve women’s lives can never be undermined.