In this article, we will be explaining what birth control is, the other health benefits of birth control other than pregnancy prevention and the different birth control methods available.
Birth control, otherwise known as contraception, refers to any method used to prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring. These methods can include condoms, the rhythm method, birth control pills, IUDs and tubal ligation.
If you are sexually active, it is important that you use birth control when having regular sex with your partner. In a study done by the National University Hospital (NUH) in Singapore, they found that 84% of couples who do not use any method of birth control while having regular sex will get pregnant within a year, and 92% of couples will get pregnant within 2 years.
Women also use birth control for purposes other than pregnancy prevention. Hormonal birth control can be used to regulate periods, help manage period cramps and PMS, keep hormonal acne under control as well as reducing the risk of developing uterine cancer and ovarian cysts.
The cheapest and most common method of birth control in Singapore is condoms. Condoms are widely available and can be bought from supermarkets, pharmacies and even convenience stores. However, failure rates of condoms are the highest compared to other birth control methods due to various factors like condom tearing and how the condom is put on.
Here are some other birth control methods that have higher effectiveness rates at pregnancies preventions that are available in Singapore:
Birth control pills can come in various different forms, such as combination pills like Yaz and Estrostep or progestin-only pills like Cerelle and Cerazette.
Combination pills work by using progestin and estrogen hormones to prevent you from ovulating, and by thickening the mucus found in your cervix to make it more difficult for the sperm to reach and come into contact with the egg.
As the name implies, progestin-only pills contain only progestin and do not contain estrogen.
The most significant upside of taking birth control pills is the convenience it provides. So long as you consume it at the same time everyday, it will be effective at preventing pregnancies. Birth control pills often come with a usage calendar, which makes it easy to keep track on which pill to take on what day of your cycle.
Similar to other forms of birth control, birth control patches can also cause lighter periods and minimize the severity of menstrual cramps.
Should you choose to take combination birth control pills, you might even experience improvements in your skin. In a study done by the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, these improvements were credited to the hormones present in combination birth control pills as they are able to suppress the production of androgen, which prevent acne breakouts and controls the oil production of your skin.
The biggest downside about taking birth control pills is the side effects that you might experience. These side effects include weight gain, breast tenderness, increased nausea, and increased frequencies of headaches. While most of the stated side effects are minor and tend to subside over time, there is a very small possibility that birth control pills could cause you to develop cardiovascular health issues such as blood clot and strokes.
If you are over the age of 35 and smoke regularly, it is vital that you discuss with your doctor whether this method of birth control is suitable and safe for you.
Combination birth control pills like Yaz and Estrostep can also affect your sex drive, causing either a noticeable increase or decrease.
Besides side effects, being on birth control pills can be slightly inconvenient as it requires you to take it daily and at roughly the same time. Should your job require you to wake up at different times, this method of birth control might not be the most convenient for you and you should look into other forms of birth control like birth control patches or rings.
Similar to birth control rings, birth control pills will not prevent you from getting STIs, so using condoms and getting tested regularly for STIs will still be required for safe sex.
Birth control patches are a small patch that can be stuck to either your upper arm, waist, buttocks or torso. It prevents pregnancies by slowly releasing the hormones progestin and estrogen into your body and looks very similar to a plaster or a bandage.
Similar to both birth control pills and rings, it works by preventing you from ovulating and the hormones thicken the mucus found in your cervix, making it difficult for the sperm to reach and come into contact with the egg.
The biggest upside to using a birth control patch is the convenience it provides. As the patch lasts for about a week, this means that you will only need to replace it every 7 days. You will then have to replace and wear 3 patches over the course of 3 weeks, before taking 1 week off at the end of the 4-week cycle.
Wearing a birth control patch will not require you to make changes to your lifestyle as you will be able to wear the patch while you shower, exercise and even swim.
Similar to both birth control pills and rings, birth control patches can cause lighter periods and minimize the severity of menstrual cramps. When the birth control patch is in use, it can also help lower the risks of developing ovarian cancer, and cancer of the uterus and bowels.
The most obvious downside to using a birth control patch is the fact that it is attached to your skin. Depending on where you’ve stuck the patch on, the patch might be visible through your clothing.
While it is unlikely, there is a possibility that the patch may fall off before the week is done. Should it come off, you will need to apply for a new one as soon as you can. If your birth control patch has been off for more than 24 hours, it is vital that you use another form of contraception (such as using a condom) to avoid getting pregnant.
Similar to both birth control rings and pills, birth control patches can still cause minor side effects like increased frequencies of headaches, weight gain, spotting, nausea and breast tenderness.
While the likelihood is very low, there is a possibility that birth control patches can increase your risk of experiencing blood clots, strokes and various other cardiovascular health issues. If you are over the age of 35 and regularly smoke, it is vital that you discuss with your doctor whether this method of birth control is suitable and safe for you.
One of the most significant disadvantages of the birth control patch is that it might not be fully effective if you happen to weigh more than 90kg (or 198 pounds). Should you be above this weight, it is important that you consult your doctor and discuss which birth control method is the most suitable for you.
Birth control rings, also most commonly known by the brand name NuvaRing, work by continuously releasing both progestin and estrogen hormones in your vagina. These hormones prevent you from ovulating and thickens the mucus found in your cervix, which makes it more difficult for the sperm to reach and come into contact with the egg.
The biggest upside to using birth control rings is that it is the most convenient of all the stated methods. While birth control pills require you to take them daily (and at the same time), birth control rings only need to be inserted once a month to be effective.
Once the ring has been inserted, it can be left there for up to 3 weeks and then removed for a “ring-free week”. It also does not need to be removed for sexual activities or intensive exercises.
Similar to birth control bills, birth control rings can cause lighter periods and minimize the severity of menstrual cramps. When the birth control ring is in use, it can also help lower the risks of developing iron deficiencies, cysts, ovarian and endometrial cancers and various other infections in your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The downside of using a birth control ring is that you will still be required to have it changed and reinserted every month, in order for it to be effective.
Similar to other methods of birth control, birth control rings can still cause minor side effects like increased frequencies of headaches, spotting, nausea and breast tenderness. In a study done by the University of California, researchers found that these side effects are most prominent during the first few months that you begin using the birth control ring, and will usually subside over time.
As the birth control ring contains both progestin and estrogen hormones, it could potentially increase your risk of experiencing blood clots, strokes and various other cardiovascular health issues. If you are over the age of 35, it is vital that you discuss with your doctor whether this method of birth control is suitable and safe for you.
Similar to birth control pills, birth control rings will not prevent you from getting STIs, so using condoms and getting tested regularly for STIs will still be required for safe sex.
A contraceptive implant is a hormonal birth control that comes in the form of a small, soft plastic rod. It is inserted into the upper arm by a doctor and slowly releases a hormone called etonogestrel to prevent pregnancy.
Etonogestrel is able to prevent unwanted pregnancies by blocking the egg from being released and avoiding fertilization. Etonogestrel also thickens the cervical mucus which makes it difficult for the sperm to enter the womb.
The contraceptive implant will last from 3 to 5 years and has an effectiveness rate of 99%, which makes it a great long-term contraceptive method.
Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus for pregnancy prevention. There are two types of IUD available - hormonal IUD and copper IUD.
Hormonal IUD works similar to birth control pills and implants, and slowly releases a hormone to prevent pregnancies from occurring. This hormone prevents the egg from being released from the ovaries, avoiding fertilization. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which prevents ovulation and makes it difficult for the sperm to enter the womb.
A copper-releasing IUD is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional. While it is normally used as a long-term birth control, copper IUDs (specifically Paragard) can act as a form of emergency contraception if it is inserted into the uterus within 5 days after unprotected sex has occured. You can get the copper IUD safely removed by a doctor after your next period cycle is complete, or you can choose to leave the copper IUD in as a long-term form of birth control that will last up to 10 years.
Copper IUDs prevent unwanted pregnancy by releasing copper into both the uterus and the fallopian tubes, effectively acting as a form of spermicide and preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.
While copper IUDs are generally regarded as a safe form of both birth control and emergency contraception, it does slightly raise the risk of experiencing pelvic inflammatory disease during the first 3 weeks of use. However, these risks are very low. You should consult your doctor on whether using copper-releasing IUDs is suitable for you both as a form of emergency contraception and long-term birth control.
Emergency contraception refers to methods of birth control that is used to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. It is recommended that emergency contraception be used within 72 to 120 hours after unprotected sex but the sooner they are taken, the more effective they will be at preventing pregnancy.
Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy by either killing the sperm before it reaches the egg or by delaying ovulation to stop fertilization from occuring. It is important to note that emergency contraception does not induce an abortion.
Short-term birth control methods like birth control pills, patches and rings all have similar effective rates when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies. When used perfectly, these methods have an impressive 99% effectiveness rate. When used typically, these hormonal birth control methods still have a commendable effectiveness rate of 91%.
As all the birth control methods use similar hormones to prevent pregnancies, the side effects you experience with either one of them will be roughly the same. As the main design of all three methods of birth control is to prevent pregnancies, they will not be able to prevent STIs.
Ultimately, the deciding factor on which of the three is the most effective form of birth control, is the one that you find to be most convenient and easiest to use on a daily basis..
So long as you follow the instructions provided, any of the stated forms of birth control will provide you with an effective and convenient form of contraception.
In order to get any of the stated birth control, you will need to see a doctor for a prescription for it. Additionally, you will need to be above the age of 16 in order to be prescribed any of the methods.
So how can you get short-term birth control methods (pills, patches and rings) in Singapore?
With Zoey, a digital health clinic for women in Singapore, you'll be able to get the birth control pills you need from the comfort of home. You won't have to worry about the safety or legitimacy of the birth control pills provided as Zoey is recognized by the Ministry Of Health (MOH) as a direct telemedicine service provider.
Getting started with Zoey couldn't be simpler - you just need to answer an online medical evaluation in order to see a licensed doctor at your convenience. If prescribed, your birth control pills will be discreetly delivered right to your doorstep within 4 hours at no additional cost.
If you need any further guidance on the various birth control methods available, you can speak to a doctor here at Zoey. Doctors on our platform are best equipped with the knowledge to determine which form of birth control is most suitable and safe for you.
Articles featured on Zoey are for informational purposes only and should not be constituted as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. If you're looking for a healthcare provider, click here.
Grossman Barr, Nancy. “Managing adverse effects of hormonal contraceptives.” American family physician vol. 82,12 (2010): 1499-506 (Link)
Trivedi, M K et al. “A Review of hormone-based therapies to treat adult acne vulgaris in women.” International journal of women's dermatology vol. 3,1 44-52. 30 Mar. 2017, doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.02.018 (Link)