S.H.E table talk on reproductive health

Photo by Blake Israel

As part of Tech’s Support, Health and Education (S.H.E.)  for Women’s Love Your Body week, the organization held a women’s health panel discussion, inviting the Stamps Health Services to answer various questions the audience may have and providing useful information for all students, regardless of gender. 

This panel in particular focused on contraceptive methods such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and various forms of birth control pills.

The two doctors provided detailed information summarized below about the various forms of contraception that can be used in order of most to least effective. 

But first, a brief discussion of what goes in these forms of birth control.

The key element  in all forms of hormonal birth control is progestin. Its synthetic form is what tells the body to prepare the uterus for the egg when it is released each month in a menstrual cycle. This is what pads up the walls to  create an environment for a fertilized egg. While it is not in all forms of birth control, it is in most.

Some of the most effective forms of contraception are IUDs and birth control implants. These are 99% effective at preventing pregnancies. In terms of mechanics, there are two types of IUDs, hormonal and copper.

The copper IUD is a bit more particular about who can qualify for its use because it has pretty strict uterus size requirements. If a uterus is not the right size, the IUD is not going to be as effective at preventing pregnancies.

Additionally, the copper IUD does not address heavy blood flows during periods and in fact, may increase it. However, it is free of any hormones and for that reason, some may choose that instead of the other IUD or birth control options.

The second form of IUDs is hormonal and there are two options offered at Stamps. Both forms of IUD provide long-term protection, though the hormonal forms also can provide benefits like less heavy periods and are more accessible due to the lack of strict uterus size standards.

The next most effective birth control method that Stamps offers are the pills, including patches, shots, and rings. They are the most commonly used forms of hormonal birth control, but human error can be an issue.

While very effective at preventing pregnancy, some older forms of pills are very time sensitive and require strict schedules for doses. However, most modern pills with the newer forms of progestin have longer half-lives and the window of time in which taking the pill is still effective is longer.

Part of the reason all these forms of birth control are less effective is because they require the individual to be routine with whatever it is they choose, particularly with the pill and the ring. Both require, or at least imply, a week of no treatment with three weeks of treatment, in contrast to the IUD, which is constant and does not require taking something out or taking something everyday. 

During the panel, the patch and shot were not talked about much, but they imply much lower maintenance and reduce possible human error in comparison to the pill and ring. 

The final effective form of birth control  talked about, briefly, was condoms. A sample of female and male condoms were passed around and plastic models were used to demonstrate proper use. 

Overall this was an interesting opportunity for students to ask questions and have a forum to discuss different forms of birth control and their benefits and drawbacks. Many people in the crowd also had an opportunity to share their difficulties in finding the right birth control method for them.