Health Scoop

The 5-Year Birth Control Option

WITH CAREERS SIMMERING, ladies who eventually want to become parents are now choosing to postpone sleepless nights, tantrums, and food fights for just a little bit longer by investing in the 5-year birth control option, the progesterone IUD.

Yet the newest media buzz surrounding progesterone IUD’s, like the Mirena, and their link to breast cancer raised some eyebrows last week. But before you run to your gynecologist to yank out that 5-year birth control option you have in place, step back and chew on the details.

Here is what that study really tried to say: Comparisons between large groups of women who were on combined oral contraceptive pills or had a progesterone intrauterine device in place did show that there was a slight increase in their risk of breast cancer. That risk only increased significantly with age and after the use of hormone containing contraceptives for over 5 to 10 years. The bottom line is that exposing your body to any kind of extra hormones over an extended period of time is going to have an effect. Yes, the too-much-of-a-good-thing is kind of a life rule.

Moreover, family history is like, really important. Those with an increased risk of developing breast cancer with the 5-year birth control option likely already carry the genetic cancer code for breast cancer. The ‘at-risk’ cells are stimulated with hormones that turn on the cancer code with prolonged exposure to hormones in combined contraceptives or the progesterone IUD.

Why is this study important?

  • Because mostly estrogen containing contraceptives were thought to increase chances of breast cancer, not progesterone IUD’s.
  • Because this is the first study to actually show that progesterone IUD’s should not be used indefinitely.
  • Because you should weigh your options and reflect on your family history of breast cancer when investing in contraceptive effectiveness.                            
  • Because we are all living longer and some women are now using hormonal birth control methods for over ten years.

But even the experts are saying woah, there.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists emphasizes that hormonal contraceptives are for many women still the safest choice. And let’s not forget the benefits, including the reduction of chances of acquiring ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers.

The Birth Control Method Menu

Estrogen Containing

Pills (Ortho-Tricyclin, Sprintec etc.) come in estrogen-progestin and progestin only forms.

Ortho-Evra: The norelgestromin and ethinyl estradiol patch should be changed every seven days for 3 weeks. The 4th week is patch free. 

Nuva-Ring: The etonogestrel/ethinyl estradiol vaginal ring is inserted into the vagina for 3 weeks, then removed for a week.

*sidenote: DO NOT SMOKE WITH BIRTH CONTROL OPTIONS THAT CONTAIN ESTROGEN. Seriously though, it can be deadly.

Progestin Only

The Mirena IUD: Inserted through the cervical os, this levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device lasts for five years.

Depo-Provera: No daily pills to remember with this shot of medroxyprogesterone that needs to be given every 3 months, but the patient rumor has it that it can be notorious for weight gain in some. 

Nexplanon: This etonogestrel implant is a progestin only rod that can be inserted into the upper arm right in the doctor’s office. It lasts for 3 years.

Hormone free

Condoms: Those with spermicide (it is what it sounds like) increase contraceptive effectiveness.

Paraguard IUD: This hormone free copper option that lasts for ten years is a barrier method for pregnancy.

Surgery: The permanent solution. 

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  • Reply
    January 1, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Thank you very much for this research. It clarified a lot of information about the risk factors of progesterone IUDs. Cancer is difficult. I have friends who lost family members because of it.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    There has to be a better contraceptive than one that raises the risk for cancer. Although nothing has been set in stone yet, studies like the one mentioned should serve as a warning to women that they should tread with caution when using contraceptives.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 6:27 am

    I found this info really interesting. My gf and I are looking for contraception methods because we want to feel safe and comfortable. Like… we’re not ready to start a family yet. I think she may find this useful. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Claire Marie
    January 4, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Huge number of people still lack knowledge about birth control. They didn’t know that there’s a lot of option available. This is a very helpful article.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 10:20 am

    My family has a history of cancer. I guess I should carefully choose my birth control options then. Thank you for this post.

  • Reply
    katrina h.
    January 5, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Thanks for this, it had a summary of the easiest birth control methods that people can use. hopefully a lot more people think about these things.

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