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What to Ask Your Doctor About Birth Control

In light of World Contraception Day, Affinity Health highlights birth control.


Did you know that 64.6% of South African women between the ages of 15 and 49 use contraception?  That number may appear high. But there is still a significant lack of knowledge about contraception. Women are still learning how to achieve social and economic empowerment.


World Contraception Day occurs annually on September 26 to promote education about sexual health. The day also increases knowledge of contraception safety and options.


Affinity Health commits to educating and raising awareness on contraception. Women can make informed decisions to improve their health and family planning.


“Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding contraception. That means that many women still need to learn to take control of their reproductive health,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


There are many birth control alternatives available. These include condoms, other barrier measures, tablets, gels, and injections.

Which is the Best Birth Control Option?

1. Is Hormonal Contraception or Non-Hormonal Contraception Better For Me?

Non-hormonal birth control is a strategy that prevents unintended pregnancy. It does not interfere with your natural hormones.

Non-hormonal birth control can include:
  • Barrier methods.
  • Behaviour changes.
  • Other non-hormonal birth control methods.
Barrier methods work by blocking the sperm from reaching the uterus, and include:
Other non-hormonal birth control methods prevent pregnancy by killing sperm. They may also make the environment of the vagina or uterus hostile toward sperm. This category includes:
Some people use behavioural changes as a type of nonhormonal birth control. This includes things like:

2. How Soon After Birth Control Use Will I Be Protected Against Pregnancy?

The rate at which your contraceptive becomes effective can vary depending on the type you use.


“During your consultation, discuss the duration of each method. That might help you choose the contraceptive that best meets your needs. It will also help you determine how long you may need to use backup contraception (if at all),” adds Hewlett.

Here is how long it takes for some contraception to become effective:

Combination tablets:

These are immediately effective if taken on the first day of your period. Otherwise, it takes about one week.

 Hormonal intrauterine devices:

Immediately effective if placed within the first seven days of your cycle. Otherwise, it takes one week.

Progesterone tablets:

They become effective 48 hours after administration.

Copper IUDs:

They are immediately effective after implantation.

3. How Long Will My Prescription Be Effective?

A healthcare provider may prescribe birth control pills for any amount of time.


Knowing the duration of your prescription can help you schedule refills in advance. That prevents you from running out of medication out of the blue. It can also estimate when your next birth control appointment should be scheduled.

4. Are There Any Drugs That Could Reduce The Effectiveness Of This Contraceptive?

No contraceptive is 100% effective. Taking some supplements or medications may diminish the effectiveness of some birth control.


Certain antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control.  But some over-the-counter medications may reduce the efficacy of various contraceptives.


Discuss all facts that render your birth control ineffective. You can implement a backup method or choose another type of contraception.

5. Are There Any Adverse Effects Associated With This Contraceptive?

Birth control is generally regarded as safe. But certain forms can carry the risk of side effects.

These include:
  • Weight increase
  • Headaches
  • Mood shifts
  • Breast tenderness
  • Erratic bleeding


Some contraceptive techniques also increase your risk for the following health conditions:

But not all birth control techniques carry the same dangers or adverse effects. Asking about risks during your appointment will help you decide which birth control method to use. That can also help you understand what signs or symptoms to look out for while beginning birth control.

6. How Soon After Stopping Birth Control May I Try To Become Pregnant?

You should be able to become pregnant immediately after discontinuing birth control, as it does not affect your fertility. 83% of women could conceive after 12 months of stopping birth control, according to research.


Keep in mind, though, that you won’t be able to conceive until you ovulate again. You may have had irregular periods before taking birth control. You will need to keep an eye out for when you’ll ovulate once you stop using it.


“It helps to understand your options, as well as their risks and benefits. That can help you feel more confident in selecting the most suitable birth control method,” concludes Hewlett.


Learn More: How to Protect Your Sexual Wellbeing

What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception refers to contraceptive treatments that prevent pregnancy following sexual activity. An example is a morning-after pill. These should be administered within five days, but they are more effective as soon as possible after sexual activity. Any woman or girl of reproductive age may need emergency contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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