7 Signs You Should Change Your Birth Control, According To An Expert
With several options to choose from (IUDs, the Pill, Depo-Provera injection, etc.), and options within those options, the first birth control method you try might not be the best one for you. Finding the right choice can certainly can be a a trial and error process for many women.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 62 percent of women, of reproductive age, are on some form of birth control. While the Pill remains the most commonly used method, between 1995 and 2010, the amount of women who opted for IUDs jumped from 0.8 percent to 5.6 percent. Since Trump took office, the demand for IUDs has increased as the fear that access to birth control will be threatened with his legislation.
"The cause of these side effects depends on how sensitive you are to these man-made or synthetic estrogen and progesterone hormones," Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN tells Bustle. "There are many different brands of oral contraception pills, each varying in the types and doses of these two key hormones. Some women are more sensitive to one or both of these hormones, which exacerbates these side effects."
For example, some women notice mood changes or irritability on the Pill, so they'll switch to a pill with a different hormone level or another method completely. But that's not the only reason it may be time to make a switch. Here are seven signs that you should change your birth control.
1. You're Experiencing Unpredictable Bleeding Or Spotting
"If someone is on a birth control pill daily (benefits of the birth control pill are predictable, regular periods with minimal bleeding or pain) and bleeding at other times other than the fourth week of the pill pack (the placebo or non-hormonal pill week), it's time to switch your birth control to another option," Dr. Sheila Loanzon, MD, author of Yes, I Have Herpes: A Gynecologist's Perspective In and Out of the Stirrups, tells Bustle. "You may need a different birth control pill that works well with your body and natural cycle."
According to Dr. Loanzon, it often takes some adjustments to find the right birth control pill — as many as two to three adjustments. "Often health care providers start patients on lower dosage birth control pills to ease the transition, at patient request, or to start low and see if we need to increase in the future," says Dr. Loanzon. Most patients will need to be adjusted to a higher dosage to work with the body’s natural cycle."
2. You're Forgetful
Although there are many ways you can remind yourself to take the Pill, some people and their lives just don't allow such ideal consistency. It's these women who probably want to change to an option that doesn't require remembering to take a pill every day.
"With a daily birth control pill, it is imperative to take the pill around the same time every day," says Dr. Loanzon. "If you find that you consistently forget to take the pills or are constantly making up missed days, then it is better to find something more reliable otherwise you run the risk of having irregular bleeding or spotty contraception coverage, putting yourself at risk for unwanted pregnancy."
3. You're Experiencing Uncontrolled Bleeding
"There are some birth control options (i.e. Depo-Provera injection every three months or Nexplanon rod that lasts for three to five years) that can cause heavy, irregular bleeding," says Dr. Loanzon. "This is not the case for everyone who gets these methods. However, it is often why women switch from these methods and look for other choices."
The reason for the bleeding with these methods is that the uterus can become very thin and unstable, according to Dr. Loanzon, which results in the bleeding. Although the bleeding isn't bad, per se, it can be an annoyance — and annoying enough that one might want to change their birth control.
4. You're Dealing With Pelvic Pain
"IUDs are extremely effective options for contraception, with efficacy to prevent pregnancy up to 99 percent," says Dr. Loanzon. "There are also options of IUDs to be with (Mirena IUD) or without hormones (Paragard IUD). It is a known risk of IUDs that they be become malpositioned, migrate, and can be painful, particularly in those who have not had children before."
The last thing anyone wants is pelvic pain and if you're experiencing it, then something isn't right and you definitely want to make a change.
5. Your Patch Keeps Falling Off
Ideally, the birth control patch should stay on your body for seven days, being replaced every seven days with a new patch, then removed on the fourth week for a period.
"The patch ... is a great option for people who would prefer to have combination birth control for acne control or ovarian cysts and can’t remember to take birth control pills daily," says Dr. Loanzon. "However, if your skin is particularly sensitive (rash, redness, inability to attach to your skin) or your skin has an allergy to adhesive backing, it may be best to use another option."
6. You're Experiencing Recurring Ovarian Cysts
Although ovarian cyst aren't uncommon, in women of all ages, and are relatively harmless, according to the Office of Women's Health, they can become a problem. So if you can take a birth control method that reduces the prevalence of ovarian cysts, especially if you're prone to them, then that's a better option for you.
"Ovarian cysts greater than 3cm may benefit from hormonal methods that have both estrogen and progesterone," says Dr. Loanzon. "If a person is on a progesterone-only method like the Progesterone-only pill, Depo-Provera injection, Nexplanon rod, or Mirena IUD, there can be a risk of ovarian cyst development."
Dr. Loanzon says, in these cases, switching to the Pill "may help keep the ovarian cysts quiet and prevent formation of other cysts in the future."
7. You Have Acne
"While we don’t currently have a birth control pill that is FDA-approved for acne as we have in the past, some pills may cause or improve acne for women than others," says Dr. Loanzon. "Again it is finding the right dosage that is the best for you however small adjustments in hormone types or dosage may help control acne."
Ultimately, when it comes to finding the right birth control, it's about knowing your body, recognizing when something feels off, and being open and honest with your health care provider.