If you are considering your birth control options and are unsure where to begin, this guide is for you. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the available contraceptive methods in Singapore and for whom they may be suitable.
Types of contraceptive methods
Generally, there are two types of contraceptive methods available: hormonal birth control and non-hormonal birth control.
Hormonal birth control methods contain either progestin or a combination of both progestin and estrogen. They work by releasing hormones into the body to prevent ovulation or the thickening of the cervical mucus. Examples include:
- Birth control pills
- Contraceptive implants or injections
- Contraceptive patches or rings
- IUS (Intrauterine system)
Non-hormonal birth control can involve creating a barrier between the sperm and egg, altering the chemistry in the reproductive tract or a combination of both. Examples include:
- Diaphragms and caps
- IUD (Intrauterine device)
- Sterilisation surgery
We’ll now take a closer look at each contraceptive method, and for whom they may benefit.
Birth control pills
Also known as “the pill”, birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus to keep sperms from entering the uterus.
Typically, you will need to take one pill a day for 21 days, then stop taking it for the next 4 to 7 days. You can start the pill any time in your menstrual cycle if you’re sure that you’re not pregnant. If you start taking the pill on the first day of your period or any day up to, including the fifth day of your period, you will be protected from pregnancy immediately. You will have to avoid sex or use additional birth control methods like condoms for the first seven days of being on the pill at any other point in your menstrual cycle.
If you take the pill consistently without missing a single day, it’s 99% effective in preventing pregnancies. This birth control method is suitable for healthy non-smokers who are not breastfeeding and have no medical conditions.
A contraceptive implant is a 4cm rod containing the hormone progesterone. It is inserted under the skin of the upper inner arm and is effective for three years, after which it has to be removed and replaced.
Implanon NXT is the only contraceptive implant approved for use in Singapore. It has an effectiveness of over 99% within seven days of insertion. This method is suitable for late teens and women who may be too busy to take the pill consistently.
Contraceptive injections contain the hormone progestin and have to be administered every 12 weeks to suppress ovulation, totalling about four injections per year.
These injections are about 98% effective if done regularly. They are suitable for women who want to avoid the hassle of a daily or monthly contraceptive routine and do not wish to have an implant inserted.
The contraceptive patch is small and thin, nearly 5cm x 5cm in size. When you stick it on your skin, it releases two hormones, estrogen and progestin.
Wear the patch anywhere on your skin that’s clean and dry for a week, then replace it with a new one weekly. Stay patch-free on the fourth week. It is 99% effective when used perfectly.
The contraceptive ring is a flexible, transparent ring that is placed in the vagina. Similarly, it releases two hormones, estrogen and progestin.
Replace the ring with a new one every month. It is 99% effective when used perfectly.
IUS (Intrauterine System)
An IUS is a small plastic device that is fitted into your uterus and releases the progestin hormone. The IUS can be used for 3 to 5 years, depending on the type you get.
It has an effectiveness of over 99% and is suitable for busy women who want to avoid the hassle of remembering to take or use contraception.
Male condoms are typically made of very thin latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene. It should be worn once the penis is erect and serves as a barrier to stop the sperm from reaching the egg.
Unlike all other types of birth control, condoms offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is always advisable to use a condom even if you are on other forms of birth control, especially if you are not in a committed relationship.
Diaphragms and caps
Diaphragms and caps are fit inside the vagina and cover the cervix to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. They should be used with a spermicide for maximum effectiveness of 92-96%.
This method may not be suitable for women with vaginal muscles that cannot hold a diaphragm in place, are sensitive to spermicide and have had repeated urinary infections.
IUD (Intrauterine device)
An IUD is a small, flexible plastic and copper device that is placed in the uterus. An IUD can be used for 5 to 10 years, depending on the type you get. Unlike the IUS, the IUD does not release hormones in your body. The IUD contains copper, which is damaging to sperms and helps prevent pregnancy by ensuring that the sperms do not enter your body.
If you and your partner are certain that you don’t want more children, or any children, you can consider sterilisation. Sterilisation is a permanent and irreversible method of contraception.
Male sterilisation, or vasectomy, is carried out by cutting and sealing the tubes in a man’s scrotum, blocking sperm from entering the semen.
Female sterilisation, or tubal occlusion, involves cutting, sealing and blocking the fallopian tubes such that the sperm and egg cannot meet.
The effectiveness of both surgeries is almost 100%. However, due to their irreversible nature, it is advisable to make an informed decision before proceeding with the procedures.
Speak to us if you’d like to explore birth control methods. The kind and experienced doctors at Osler Health in Singapore will be able to advise you on the most suitable contraceptive methods, as well as any other concerns related to women’s health. We have both male and female doctors, depending upon your preference.