You’ve got to be kidding. Of the 90 women aged between 25 and 40 we polled, more than half said their form of birth control was the pull-out method – which has a mere 78 per cent success rate when it comes to preventing pregnancy. “It’s the most inexpensive and easiest way”, “I’m allergic to latex condoms and don’t like the pill”, “condoms feel strange for my guy, and uncomfortable for me”, and “I thought about getting a diaphragm, but it just seems like too much work” are among the reasons we’ve heard for taking that risk. One woman even claimed that she tried the contraceptive jab but gained 7kg, which was “impossible to shed“. Still, all that’s no excuse to ditch your contraception, which is why we’ve outlined the most fuss-free options:
1. Jaydess Intrauterine System (IUS)
Success rate: 99%
What: Approved in Singapore last June, Jaydess is a 50-cent coin-sized T-shaped plastic device your gynaecologist inserts into your womb, where it slowly releases a small amount of progestogen. This hormone thickens cervical mucus so sperm cannot easily swim through the cervical canal to get to the egg. The IUS is touted by doctors as one of the most reliable forms of contraception; unlike the pill, you don’t have to worry about missed doses. According to health-care solutions company Quintiles IMS, there was an 11 per cent jump in the use of such long-acting reversible options over the past year. Don’t freak out if your period becomes lighter, shorter or even stops – these are common side effects.
Use it if: You want a break between babies or are done having kids, as the device stays in you for three to five years. See your doctor to remove it.
Don’t use it if: You have unexplained vaginal bleeding, liver inflammation or hormone dependent conditions such as breast and womb cancers.
2. Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection
Success rate: 99%
What: Depo-provera, available here since 1989, involves the injection of the hormone progestogen into muscle – usually in the buttock, leg or arm – to stop the release of eggs. Like the Jaydess IUS, “it thickens the cervical mucus to impede the passage of sperm into the uterus”, says Dr Quek Swee Chong, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist at Gleneagles Hospital. You get the jab from your doctor between the first and fifth day of your period, and it lasts three months. Common side effects include headaches, stomach aches and weight gain.
Use it if: You’re not up for the long-term commitment of an IUS.
Don’t use if: Your periods aren’t regular.
3. Ortho Evra Patch
Success Rate: 99% (when used correctly)
What: This self-adhesive birth control patch has been around since 2003. You stick it on a clean, dry and nonhairy patch of skin – think: your upper arm or lower abdomen – which will then absorb the hormones that stop the release of eggs. Stomach upsets also don’t mess with absorption. Expect side effects such as breast tenderness, spotting and migraines, which go away after you’ve been on the patch for two to three months. Dr Christopher Ng, obstetrician and gynaecologist at GynaeMD Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic, says that two per cent of women will experience skin irritation from wearing the patch. Also, in about four per cent of them, the patch could come off and they won’t notice it. You need to change the patch every week.
Use it if: You don’t want the daily hassle of the pill, yet are uncomfortable with the thought of getting a device or a vaginal ring.
Don’t use if: You already suffer severe migraines or are at an increased risk of developing blood clots.
Success rate: 98%
What: The vaginal ring releases hormones into your blood through the vaginal wall to stop ovulation. It needs to be changed every week. Launched in 2012, it works like the pill but with one big benefit: the hormones aren’t absorbed by the stomach, which means that tummy upsets won’t negate its effects. Possible side effects, however, include vaginal discomfort and nausea.
Use it if: You aren’t squeamish about inserting the ring on your own. Squeeze the ring between your thumb and finger, and use your other hand to gently spread your labia. Push the ring up into your vagina until it feels comfortable. To remove it, hook your finger through the loop and gently pull it out. Discard the used ring.
Don’t use if: You’re a smoker aged 35 and above, says Dr Susan Logan, a sexual and reproductive health care consultant at the National University Hospital Women’s Centre. This could increase the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Opt for the copper IUD or IUS instead.
5. Nova-T Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Success rate: 99%
What: Unlike an IUS, this doesn’t contain hormones. Rather, copper ions are released into your womb, which change the make-up of fluids and make it less-than-comfortable for sperm to survive.
Use it if: You’re buying time between babies or are done having kids. “It works best for women who have already had a pregnancy, partly because the cervix is open wider, making the insertion of the device easier and less painful,” says Dr Ng.
Don’t use if: You have heavy or prolonged periods – IUDs can make periods heavier, longer and more painful.
Art direction: Alice Chua
Photograhy: Tan Wei Te
This story was first published in the July 2017 issue of Her World magazine.