Birth Control Methods
With dating apps making it easier to meet people, it’s important to keep ourselves safe in order to maintain our mojo. Although most of my friends have had some form of sex education in school, many were left clueless as to how to properly use contraception. We understand that premarital abstinence is ideal, but if you choose to be sexually active, you should know how to keep yourself safe.
It’s important to note that only barrier methods ensure protection from STDs, while others protect from unwanted pregnancies. Clueless about the options out there, many opt to use the pull-out method* or condoms.
Girl code states that we must always look out for our sisters, so here’s a simple guide to the different birth control methods available in Singapore.
*Pull-out Method: Withdrawal of the penis before ejaculation.
These methods are best for people who have various or irregular sexual partners, as it protects from both STDs and unwanted pregnancies. STDs are no joke—you never know which trunk that junk’s been in.
The go-to contraceptive for most people, it’s simple and effective when used correctly. Rolled over the tip of the penis, it prevents the sperm from entering the vagina, and keeps STDs at bay. When used correctly, it’s about 98% effective. However, it’s probably not as safe when used during a drunk fumble in the dark—imperfect use reduces effectiveness to 82%.
The common complaint regarding condoms is that it reduces sensitivity, and some guys find it tight and uncomfortable. However, with a wide variety of condoms out there, there’s never an excuse to not use one.
Plus, you can get it in any supermarket or convenience store.
The name itself is quite self-explanatory: it caps your cervix, which prevents sperm from entering the uterus. It can stay in the uterus for up to 48 hours, and is effective throughout. An essential thing to note is that the cervical cap needs to be used in conjunction with spermicide, which kills sperm. However, the error margin is quite high—for women who haven’t given birth, it’s about 91% effective, but for those who have, the effectiveness plummets to 74%.
The cervical cap isn’t the best if you’re spontaneous, as it takes discipline and planning for it to be as effective as possible.
Get it here.
If you thought condoms were only for men, think again. Female condoms are an alternative to male condoms, and work almost the same way. It’s a sheath placed inside the female before sex, and is secured by a ring outside the vagina. They can only be used once, and like male condoms, protects against STDs and prevent sperm from entering the female’s vagina.. Strangely enough, it’s not as effective as the male condom; 95% effectiveness vs 98% effectiveness.
For girls who want more control over their sexual safety, and don’t want to commit to a long-term or hormonal solution, this is for you!
Get it here.
It’s important to note that these methods don’t protect against STDs, but they’re generally more effective at preventing pregnancies—most have an effectiveness rate of over 99%. Because of this, they’re best for those in monogamous relationships.
Oral Contraceptive Pill (otherwise known as “The Pill”)
Due to its convenience and flexibility, the pill is the most commonly used hormonal contraceptive. However, to maintain the 99% effectiveness level, you have to be incredibly disciplined in taking your pill at the same time every day. There are two different types of pills—a combination of progestin and estrogen, and the “mini-pill” that only contains progestin.
The pill is best for girls who not just want protection from pregnancy, but also want to control when shark week’s coming to town. Standard oral contraceptive pills work on a 28 day cycle, hence you should take the pill for three weeks, before you stop for a week. During this one week, your period should come as normal.
Hormonal methods generally come with side effects, but not all are bad! For the lucky girls, birth control increases chest size, clears up acne, and eases up period cramps. For the unlucky ones, weight gain and a decreased libido* can occur—ironic, right?
Contrary to popular belief, birth control pills don’t have to be expensive. Singaporean citizens can get six months supply of birth control pills (microgynon 30) at any polyclinic for ~$30. This includes consultation fees.
*Libido: sex drive
The hormone patch resembles a skin-coloured band-aid placed on your skin, and only needs to be changed once a week. It releases hormones which prevents ovulation, and thus prevents pregnancy. Similar to the pill, it regulates periods—use the patch for three weeks, take a week’s break, and during this time you should get your period.
Side effects may include nausea, a change in libido, and irritation where the patch is placed. However, the simplicity combined with a greater than 99% effectiveness rate makes the patch an attractive option for women.
You can get the patch at approx $38/month here.
For forgetful girls who don’t want to commit to a long-term birth control method, contraceptive injections are for you. A shot gives you three months worth of protection at one go, and it’s more than 99% effective. However, it’s not the best method if you’re afraid of needles, and it may take some time to reverse the effects to regain fertility. Hence, it’s not the best option for people who plan on getting pregnant shortly after getting off birth control.
You can get contraceptive injections done at polyclinics at a subsidised cost.
Intrauterine Device (IUD, which can be both hormonal and non-hormonal)
IUDs are little T-shaped devices inserted into the uterus to provide protection against pregnancy from three to twelve years. They come in two types—hormonal and non-hormonal. The hormonal ones are made of plastic and release small amounts of progestin that thicken the cervical mucus and prevent sperm from reaching the egg. These types last up to six years. On the other hand, non-hormonal IUDs are made of copper, which inhibits the sperm from ever reaching the egg by killing it.
Because it’s so long-lasting, IUDs are great for women who don’t want to be bothered with periodic visits to their gynaecologist. The non-hormonal IUDs are even better, as it doesn’t change the level of hormones in your body Thus, you’ll be less prone to adverse side effects. However, it may increase your period flow.
You can get a non-hormonal IUD inserted at any polyclinic in Singapore for approx. $70.
Birth Control Implant
Perfect for the busy go-getter who has no time to fuss over birth control, the implant prevents pregnancy for four years. The implant releases progestin into your body, which prevents the release of the egg. Inserted into your arm, it’s almost unnoticeable once it’s in. The downside of the implant is the extensive list of possible side effects: irregular bleeding, appetite changes, fluctuations in libido, acne, depression, and nausea, to name a few.
You can get the implant at approx. $480 here.
Yet another short-term birth control method, the ring is exactly what it sounds like—a ring. It’s inserted into your vagina for three weeks, and removed for one week where you’ll get your period as per normal. Like other methods, hormones are released into your body, which prevents ovulation. The thickened uterus lining also prevents sperm from reaching the egg.
It’s relatively fuss-free, although your partner may be able to feel the ring during sex. But there’s a solution to that—you can actually take the ring out for up to three hours at a time. So happily go forth and bump uglies!
Note that, removal can only be done once every 24 hours.
Side effects are similar to other hormonal methods. You can get it here.
The Morning-After Pill
This is not a proper birth control method. The morning-after pill should only be used if contraception was not used during sex itself. Ones found in Singapore are usually Levonorgestrel-based pills—basically birth control pills at a higher dosage. It works up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but its effectiveness is drastically reduced as time goes by. Levonorgestrel-based pills come in a set of two, the first has to be taken as soon as possible, and the second, taken 12 hours after. If taken within the first 24 hours of unprotected sex, you’re about 95% protected against pregnancy.
It’s important to note that emergency contraception works by delaying ovulation, so chances of it working if you’ve already ovulated are quite low. After taking emergency contraception, you may experience nausea, bloating, and vomiting.
You can get the morning-after pill from most pharmacies, but you need a prescription to do so. It’s easiest to go to a GP to get a prescription, so make it snappy.
Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies
There are tons of options when it comes to preventing pregnancies. Instead of grumbling about how condoms ruin the heat of the moment, choose a birth control method that’s best suited for you. It’s also important to remember that only some methods include protection against STDs. So if you’re sexually active with different people, you need to include barrier methods as well.
At the end of the day, a romp is best when you don’t have to worry about the possible repercussions coming back to haunt you. Keep yourselves protected, ladies!