Ask Reya

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We took some of the most frequently asked questions from our community and we're bringing you the answers!

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When do birth control side effects start?

There are multiple forms of birth control with differing hormones and different levels of each hormone. What this means is that the timing of side effects can be anywhere from within 24 hours to 3 months. While the range is wide, generally within a month you will likely feel any significant side effects.

Can Plan B fail?

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Plan B can reduce your risk of getting pregnant by 50-85% if you take it within three days after unprotected sex, and the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.

 

There are some things that can make it even less effective: weight (overweight/obese); some medications and drugs such as THC/CBD, and where you are in your cycle.

 

More effective emergency contraception options to consider would be:

  • the copper IUD - which is the most effective, and has a failure rate of ~0.1% when inserted within 7 days of USI

  • Ella, also known as ullipristal acetate, which is 98-99% effective when taken within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex

How does spermicide and gel work?

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Spermicide is an over the counter chemical gel that is used in the vagina, right before intercourse. It prevents pregnancy in two ways:

  • The active ingredient (nonoxynol-9) breaks the outer lining of the sperm and immobilizes it.

  • The gel also forms a barrier in front of the cervix so that any sperm that do survive are inhibited from getting into the uterus. 

Contraceptive gel is applied similarly to spermicide - in the vagina at the time of intercourse, but is a different set of chemicals. The active ingredients are acids, which increase the acidity of the vagina and make it less hospitable for sperm to move, therefore decreasing the likelihood of the swimmers getting to the uterus. 


While effective, using spermicide or contraceptive gel is less effective than many other methods, and so combining it with condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps is best. 

Does birth control cause infertility?

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Some people believe that birth control affects fertility, but the research shows that it does not. There are lots of reasons why people have this belief: 

  • cultural or familial beliefs that have shaped how we think about birth control

  • some forms of birth control can mask menstrual irregularities that we might have and that might be uncovered once we stop using birth control, depending on the type of birth control we use

  • it may take some time for our period to come back (for example, after stopping a combined oral birth control pill, on average, a person will get their next period in 32 days, but after a depo shot, it can take several months)

  • some folks don’t use condoms if they’re on birth control, which increases their risk of getting an STI– and some untreated STIs can increase our risk of infertility.

Does birth control cause weight gain?

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Weight gain is often a concern for folks, especially those who are struggling with their weight, and the fear of weight gain is often reported as a reason folks do not initiate or continue hormonal contraception.

 

There is good evidence that use of CHCs such as pills, patches and rings, progestin-only pills, intrauterine contraception, and contraceptive implants is not associated with substantial weight gain or with people stopping to use a contraceptive due to weight gain.

 

The data around the use of Depo Provera is slightly different– some data (randomized trials) shows no significan weight gain in folks who use Depo Provera, but other data (observational studies) have reported that overweight and obese adolescents gain more weight when using this method than when using oral contraceptives or no contraception.

How to begin ovulation tracking?

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The most important part of the Fertility Awareness Method is the word awareness.

 

There are a few things about your body and period that you need to monitor for a few months before you can use it as a method. The best place to start is with a calendar, and marking when your bleeding begins and ends. Once you begin that, there are a few other things to add in, but the first is a thermometer to track daily morning temperatures.

 

You will begin to notice that you have a very small rise in temperature right before you ovulate until the day you bleed. Once you can reliably identify that, the idea is that you give your ovulation date a wide berth from intercourse, so that there is a lower chance of getting pregnant.

 

It is important to remember that changes like travel, stress, and medications can change your ovulation, so patterns aren’t enough, diligent tracking is necessary.

Do I need to be at a certain point in my cycle to get an IUD inserted?

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Nope!

There are two types of IUDs, hormonal and non-hormonal. Both can be inserted at any point in the cycle, as long as you can be sure that you’re not pregnant.

 

Copper IUDs become effective immediately, whereas hormonal IUDs do not and, so depending on when in your cycle you get the IUD inserted, you may need to use back-up birth control, such as condoms, until the hormonal IUD becomes effective.