May 8-14 is National Women’s Health Week, an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and to better understand what steps they can take to improve their health.
Recommended steps include getting active, eating healthy, paying attention to mental health, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or texting while driving. The department also recommends that all women see their doctor or nurse for a well-woman visit.
For women of childbearing age, that visit should include a conversation with her health care provider about their reproductive and sexual health, and which birth control method is right for them if they plan to have sex. Women have many options these days from condoms and spermicides to birth control pills in implants. Each comes with benefits and risks.
Birth control pills are reliable, but women have to remember to take them daily in order for them to be most effective at preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills can increase the risk for blood clots. Some, like the brand name Yaz, put women at even greater risk of this side effect.
The Mirena IUD is a convenient alternative. The T-shaped device is inserted into the cervix where it prevents pregnancy for up to five years. But, the device can migrate from its intended position and puncture organs. Surgery may be needed to remove the device. In some cases, women have had to undergo hysterectomies.
Essure is the only FDA-approved non-surgical permanent birth control device on the market. In involves two nickel alloy coils that are inserted into each of the fallopian tubes to create a barrier that prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg. These devices can also migrate and perforate the fallopian tubes or uterine wall, also requiring surgery and in some cases, hysterectomies. Women have also reported allergic reactions, chronic pain and autoimmune problems while implanted with the device. The FDA recently recommended a black box warning be placed on Essure’s safety label.
Source: Women’s Health