With so many options in the market, are birth control pills still right for you?
Finding the most suitable type of birth control is often tricky, especially for women. For men, the common male birth control options are either condoms or a vasectomy, surgery to prevent sperm from mixing with your semen permanently.
But many females often find that they have to go through trial and error to find the best fit. Some unpleasant side effects from a particular method may occur during the process too.
Ladies, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you are considering using contraception.
This includes knowing what is available as well as the pros and cons of each method. Do they require strict compliance? Are you able to adhere to it? What about side effects?
In this article, allow me to walk through the birth control options available in Singapore.
What are the types of contraceptives available in Singapore?
Birth control in Singapore can be loosely divided into barrier methods and non-barrier methods.
Barrier methods are those that use a physical device or apparatus to prevent pregnancy. These include:
- Male and female condoms (affordable, protects against STDs, 98% effective)
- Diaphragm or cap (usually used with spermicide; the right size is critical)
Non-barrier methods usually use synthetic hormones to alter your body chemistry to prevent pregnancy. They include:
- Combination pill (uses synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone, 99% effective)
- Emergency or morning after pill (used if no protection was used or other contraception methods have failed)
- Progestin-only pill
- IUD (intrauterine device or coil – once inserted correctly can give you long term protection)
- Contraceptive patch (a sticky patch that is worn on the arm and releases hormones)
- Contraceptive injection (progesterone is injected into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy)
- Contraceptive hormonal implant/Implanon (releases progesterone slowly, convenient and 99% effective)
- Fertility awareness (this is a method where women monitor when they ovulate and refrain from sexual intercourse during this period)
So, as you can see there are quite a few options to choose from. However, let me explain why contraceptive implants or Implanon might be your choice for contraception.
What is Implanon?
Implanon is an extremely effective contraceptive implant that is implanted right under the skin in your forearm. This implant releases progestogen slowly into your system. This synthetic hormone mimics the hormone produced by your ovaries1.
It is only 4cm long.
How does Implanon work?
The implant prevents pregnancy in this way:
- It prevents our body from releasing an egg during ovulation.
- It thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
Will the implant insertion procedure hurt?
Don’t worry – you will not feel a thing when you are fitted with your Implanon contraceptive implant. It is placed in your inner upper arm. Your doctor or the trained nurse will administer a local anesthetic and the entire procedure is done in minutes.
Your doctor will put a bandage over your implant which you will be asked to wear for 24 hours. After that, the area may feel a bit sore to the touch but this soon dissipates.
What are the advantages of getting an Implanon contraceptive implant?
After you have the implant fitted, you do not have to worry about it for three years. There is no need to pop a pill every day. It can be removed any time you want to by a trained doctor. Implanon takes the hassle out of contraception.
Procedure only takes a couple of minutes.
Improvement in periods
Periods improve significantly. Some women have no vaginal bleeding or have very light periods. Most also find that their cramps disappear or are hardly noticeable.
Acne sufferers can expect clearer skin as an additional benefit.
Even for breastfeeding moms. Once the implant is removed, your fertility returns to normal and you can have another baby if you like.
Great alternative to estrogen-based birth control
It is excellent for women who have issues with the hormone estrogen.
How long are Implanon contraceptive implants effective?
Implanon is effective through 3 years without the need for additional steps in between. All you have to do is make a note in your calendar to schedule a replacement when the time comes.
It is recommended that you replace your Implanon implant after three years. It loses its efficacy after that three-year period and you should use condoms or emergency contraception if you are not able to replace your implant right away.
Are there any side effects that I should be aware of?
As mentioned before the implant area may feel sore. Some patients experience some bruising and there may be a small scar.
Other side effects include;
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Changes in period pattern that you may need to get used to
However, these symptoms usually improve with time.
When does the implant start working?
It usually takes about 7 days to start being effective, so we recommend that you use condoms or abstain from sex for this period. Where you are in your menstrual cycle may also affect when the implant becomes effective.
Who should not get Implanon Contraceptive implants?
Implanon is not recommended for the following persons:
- Those with severe liver diseases
- Those on medication that may be affected by the Implanon implant. Your doctor will be able to give you guidance in this area.
If you are wondering what type of contraception is right for you, I recommend that you discuss it with your doctor. Birth control does not have to be complicated!
- Fischer MA. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2008 May-Jun;37(3):361-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2008.00247.x. PMID: 18507609
- Bhatia P, Nangia S, Aggarwal S, Tewari C. J Obstet Gynaecol India. 2011 Aug;61(4):422-5. doi: 10.1007/s13224-011-0066-z. Epub 2011 Sep 28. PMID: 22851825
This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 27/01/21