When I was 13, I went on the Pill. I didn’t need it for contraceptive purposes; I just had hospital-admitting, head-splitting PMS each month. Sadly, I experienced numerous unpleasant side effects and, after about a year, decided to move on to a different one. I opted for the birth control patch which I used for a few years, but that didn’t work out too well either. I kind of teetered on and off the patch until I was 19 when I began using NuvaRing which is actually pretty snazzy with regards to side effects (for me, at least, and for now). Eventually, I would like to try the injectable birth controls, but I need to find a doctor in my new city of residence. I’ve always thought of myself as being far more experimental and indecisive than most people when it came to finding the best birth control for me, but apparently I’m not alone: nearly a third of American women have been equally flexible and varying in their birth control decisions.
According to two reports published yesterday by the National Center of Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 percent of women in the United States have tried 5 or more types of contraception. Additionally, about 11 percent of sexually experienced women between the ages of 15 and 44 have used emergency contraception with that statistic going from 4.2 percent in 2002 to 10.8 percent in 2006 to 2010. Plenty of interesting factors accompany that increase:
Most women used the emergency measure once (59%) or twice (24%) vs 17% for 3 or more times, and did so because they feared that their primary contraceptive method had failed (45%) or because they had unprotected sex (49%). Fear of failure varied with age, remaining stable from age 15 to 29 years (34%, 41%) and then increasing from age 30 to 44 years (52%).
Other factors for emergency contraceptive use included race/ethnicity (white, 53%; black, 27%; Hispanic, 33%) and education: Emergency contraception was more than twice as popular among women with a bachelor’s degree or more compared with those lacking a high school education/general equivalency degree (58% vs 26%).
Oh, and sort of good news: 99.1 percent of sexually experienced women say they have used some form of contraception in their lifetimes. Granted, that could mean they utilized a condom once and then used the rest of the box as water balloons, bur nevertheless, it’s good to see a high number for this statistic. The most popular method, of course, is the condom with 93.4 percent having used one. The Pill comes in second place with 81.9, while withdrawal has been used by 59.6 percent of women and 3-month injectable contraception by 23.2 percent.
Finding the birth control that works best for you is incredibly important, but it’s not always easy. There are plenty of questions to consider: Are you responsible with carrying pills? Are you good at remembering to take them? Are you avoiding anything with hormones? Are you okay with surgery or not? Is there a chance you’ll want kids in the semi-near future? Are you allergic to anything?
Fortunately, an OBGYN or nurse can often discuss all of these with you and help you come up with a plan that suits your needs excellently. Side note: this is yet another reason why Planned Parenthood needs to live on: it provides consideration and information to women who need help figuring out which contraceptive methods to use. Birth control, and all the care that comes with it, need to be available to all women.
Photo: teofilo / Flickr