Contraception from adolescence to menopause: which is the best form at each stage?

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Contraception from adolescence to menopause: which is the best form at each stage?
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Depending on your age, your situation and your sexual activity, various types of contraception are recommended. In fact, the types of contraception recommended differ according to several criteria, and a young woman who has just become sexually active will not be recommended the same as a women approaching the menopause. It is therefore important to get advice from a specialist beforehand, but also to inform yourself as to which form of contraception would be best for you. 

In adolescence, go for double protection

Women’s fertility is highest during adolescence. There is therefore a high risk of unwanted pregnancy, if the right kind of contraception is not used. But pregnancy is not the only risk, and there is also the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This is why at this age, it is recommended that you go for double protection, in order to prevent all risks. The pill is often recommended for young women, as it is easy to take (by mouth). In addition, young women are strongly recommended to use a condom every time they have sex. In terms of other locally applied methods (spermicide, a diaphragm), they are generally not recommended for this age group, as they are less effective and more difficult to use.

In the case of unprotected sex, or if the pill was not taken correctly, it is recommended that you take emergency contraception (the morning after pill). It should be taken in the 72 hours following sex. However, it is nonetheless recommended that you take it as soon as possible, to guarantee the most effective results. This pill can be bought in pharmacies, or your doctor or family planning clinic can guide you.

Many young women are now opting for the contraceptive implant: a little bar that is inserted under the skin of the arm and which releases progesterone. This is just as effective, and means that young women don’t have to take a pill every day to be protected from unwanted pregnancy.

For young women: even more choice

For young women who are in stable relationships, contraception methods vary, and the array of options is wider. It is normal at this stage to want to stop using condoms and to go for an easier and more comfortable method of contraception. The pill can be recommended in such instances, as it easy to use and highly effective. However, there are other options, and some are more long term, such as the IUD, the implant or the contraceptive ring.

That said, in the case of short term flings, it is strongly recommended that you continue using condoms, whether you are a man or a woman, in order to prevent the risks of STDs.

After pregnancy, be extra vigilant

A few weeks after giving birth, women’s periods start to come back. However, they can start to ovulate even before their periods come back, without necessarily having any bleeding. You should therefore be very careful at this time, as there is a risk of pregnancy. This is why it is often recommended that you start using contraception again from when you give birth, such as the pill. The use of condoms each time you have sex could also be a solution.

Contraception a few years later

After a few years, and if a couple don’t want any more children, the IUD could be a good means of contraception: there is no risk of forgetting to take a pill, it doesn’t restrict you in any way and overall it is very effective. The implant or the contraceptive ring are also practical and effective solutions, as they work over longer periods of time, as opposed to the pill which needs to be taken daily. However, over time, the pill is less and less often prescribed, due to contra-indications which become increasingly frequent with age. However, it is imperative to use contraception right up to the menopause, as the risk of pregnancy is still there, even when periods start to become irregular. There are also more radical methods, such as a vasectomy for men, or tying of the tubes for women. These are however the least common methods, as they are irreversible and require surgery.

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