Let’s chat about THE PILL
As a parent, it’s difficult watching your children grow up and make their own decisions. Your once a upon a time baby has evolved, rather quickly it seems in to a teenager and young adult and of course mother nature will take its course. We don’t always know what decisions they’re making or if they even want to confide in us as to what is happening in their lives.
With the pressures of being a teen and the never-ending technology at their fingertips, are we assuming that our teens are making the correct decisions when it comes to their sexual health and their sexual knowledge? Are parents and schools still having ‘The Talk’ or has the generation gap just become too big to address these questions. Do our teens even feel comfortable talking to us about their relationships and how serious they are?
Let’s be realistic about something – the legal age of consent in South Africa is 16 years for both boys and girls, and it is not legally criminal for children between the ages of 12 and 16 to have sex within their age group. So it’s best not to prolong educating your teens about sex. We are all familiar with the saying ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire – the same applies to sex. Where’s there’s sex, there’s contraception.
Talking to your teens about contraception
Most teens don’t come out and speak to their parents directly about sex or whether they’re sexually active or not. Instead, they’ll drop hints and hope that you’re not that dim to pick up on the cues.
Perhaps then as a parent you have been considering the pill as a convenient and easy way to introduce your teen to birth control. The Pill has been around since the 1960s and remains a steadfast choice for around 10.9% of South African women between the ages of 15 and 49.
Like most modern parents, thank goodness we can turn to Google for some insight as to what is trending in terms of female contraception nowadays.
Answering your questions:
1. Is the Pill safe?
Yes, the pill is safe. The pill has been around for more than 50 years and most people have been using it without experiencing major problems.
2. The Pill vs The Injection
Chat to your GP or gynae about which method of contraceptive is best suited to you. Bear in mind, the contraceptive that is best suited to you is dependent on issues such as age, health, the effectiveness of the method and a woman’s history of contraceptive use. Both the pill and the injection are very reliable methods of contraception when administered correctly. They both have their benefits and important factors to consider. The pill is best for women who are seeking a reliable, easy-to-use method; who are not smokers, obese or over 35. The injection is best for women who prefer not to take a daily pill but want a short-acting method.
3. How effective is the Pill?
The pill remains on the most reliable contraceptive methods around. Research found that the pill is 91.99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly, such as taking the pill every day and not missing a dose. The Pill isn’t 100% effective and there’s always the chance of a pregnancy, however, be smart about taking your pill. If you’re prone to forgetting to take your pill, use this handy birth control app.
4. How long does it take before the Pill is effective?
The only time the pill works immediately is when it is administered within 5 days of your period. But if you start the pill cycle any other time, then you need to take it for 7 days straight before it is effective. Therefore, it is advisable to use another form of contraception until you are fully protected. Most Doctors advise taking the pill for a month before stopping other forms of contraception.
5. Is the Pill free?
The pill is free at government facilities. If you are fortunate to have medical aid, the Pill will be covered by the medical aid.
6. Are there any benefits to taking the Pill?
Side effects aren’t always a bad thing, and birth control pills aren’t just for birth control. The Pill has many perks besides pregnancy prevention.
Both combination and progestin-only pills reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods, and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy.
The combination pill can also reduce or help prevent:
– bone thinning
– cysts in your breasts and ovaries
– endometrial and ovarian cancers
– serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus
– iron deficiency (anaemia)
– PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
The Pill makes your periods a breeze
Many women like the Pill because it makes their periods regular and easy to predict. The hormones in the pill can also reduce menstrual cramps and make your period lighter. It also assists with lessening the effects of migraines associated with periods.
You can also use the pill to safely skip your period, which is totally convenient for people who want a special occasion to be period-free, or just don’t want a visit from Aunt Flo every month.
7. Are there disadvantages to the Pill?
Of course, as with most scenarios in life, there’s always advantages and disadvantages to everything.
a. You have to take the pill every day
It’s really important to take your birth control pill every day, or you might not be protected from pregnancy. Using a birth control reminder app, setting an alarm, or keeping your pill pack next to things you use every day (like your toothbrush or phone charger) can help you remember to take your pills.
If you have a really busy life and think you might not remember your pill every day, chat to your Doctor about other birth control methods like IUDs or the implant that is low-maintenance and almost impossible to mess up.
b. There can be negative side effects
Like all medications, the Pill can have side effects. But most usually go away after 2 or 3 months. Many people use the pill with no problems at all.
The hormones in the pill can change your level of sexual desire. You may also notice spotting or bleeding between periods (this is more common with progestin-only pills), sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. These side effects usually go away after 2 or 3 months, and they don’t happen to everyone who takes the pill.
c. There can be some rare but serious risks
Serious problems from taking the birth control pill are very rare. People using birth control that has oestrogen, like combination pills, have a slightly higher chance of having a few rare but dangerous problems than people who don’t use birth control with hormones.
Parents, don’t be afraid to chat to your sons and daughters and assist them with these all important decisions. Contraception should not be seen as a taboo but rather as a means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and/or alleviate painful and heavy periods.