Contraception guide for mums
Once you’re a mum, contraception becomes a truly “family planning” issue. Maybe you want to expand your family at some stage or maybe you don’t but you’d like to keep your options open. Quite possibly you and your partner know you’ve had enough and are looking for more permanent methods of contraception.
We answer your frequently asked questions on contraception with the help of sexual and reproductive healthcare specialist, Jill Michelson from Marie Stopes International Australia.
Q. What’s the best method of contraception between babies?
There are many short-term contraceptive methods, and none more instantaneous, immediately effective and easily available than the condom. This remains a popular form of birth control for many couples between babies.
With many of the hormonal methods also, women can return to full fertility within a month or so.
Jill Michelson advises women to see the doctor to discuss:
- how soon they want to fall pregnant again
- whether they are breastfeeding
- if they prefer a hormonal or non-hormonal method of contraception
- whether they’d like a method that they don’t need to worry about remembering to take each day.
Q. Is the Pill a good long-term measure?
If you’ve been taking the pill regularly with no side effects, there’s really no need to give yourself a break from it, says Michelson.
In fact, if you stop taking the pill and then go on it again a few months later, you may experience the same side effects that you went through in your initial first few months of pill use while your body adjusts again.
Also, women who are used to a reliable method of contraception can put themselves at risk of an unplanned pregnancy during this break.
Also there seems to be quite a lot of research that suggests taking the Pill long-term does not present any major health risks or affect fertility for most women. However, women with high blood pressure and smokers are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke if they are on the Pill.
In fact some studies claim the Pill provides some health benefits including less period pain and lighter bleeding, so a lower risk of anaemia. It can also reduce the risk of ovarian cysts and problems with fibroids and help with endometriosis, bone density and acne. The Medical Journal of Australia reported a dramatic reduction in lifetime risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers for pill users, and cancer of the bowel is also slightly reduced.
Q. What about permanent contraceptive measures?
Couples should never consider the sterilisation procedures such as vasectomies (for men) and tubal ligations (for women) as anything but permanent.
Therefore, says Michelson, couples need to be 100% certain that they’ve completed their family before deciding to proceed with a permanent method of contraception.
“If they have any doubts, then they should consider an alternative method such as an IUD or IUS which can stay in place for 5 to 10 years,” she says.
While there is always lots of chatter about both vasectomies and tubal ligations being reversible, this is reliant on several factors including age and the length of time since the procedure was carried out.
A website called Vasectomy Reversal Australia suggests these success rates:
- Less than 4 years since vasectomy: 75% to 80% achieve pregnancy
- 4 to 8 years since vasectomy: 55 % to 75% achieve pregnancy
- 9 to 15 years since vasectomy: 40% to 60% achieve pregnancy
- Greater than 15 years since vasectomy: 20 to 40% achieve pregnancy
With tubal ligation it depends on what procedure was used and the woman’s age.
Related contraception articles:
- Contraception choices
- Breastfeeding and contraception
- Common contraception myths
- Finding the right birth control for you
This article was written by Fiona Baker for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best family health resource. Sources include Marie Stopes International Australia and Tube Ligation Reversal Australia.
Last revised: Wednesday, 15 September 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.