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Langara students explore birth control options, risks and side-effects

Cover graphic of a pamphlet talking about the myths associated with the pill. Photo by Bonnie Lee La Madeleine photo

Reported by Bonnie Lee La Madeleine

With the growing range of safe and effective alternatives now available for pregnancy prevention, some college-aged women are exploring their options, but many still prefer the pill.

Last month, findings from a Danish study of birth control and depression that showed women who use the pill, or other hormone-based therapy, are more likely to also take anti-depressants.

However, the study didn’t find that using hormonal birth control plays a role in developing depression.

When it became available in the late 1960s, many women embraced the pill because they wanted the control it offered over pregnancy.

Available birth control options 

Concerns about potential long-term effects on health and fertility fuelled research into other options, including IUD’s, the NuvaRing, the shot and the patch.

Paige Kempo, a general arts student at Langara is aware of her options.

“I’m pretty knowledgeable,” said Kempo. “I tried the Nuva, and now I’m on the Evra [patch].”

Susan Kensett, a nurse at Langara Student Health Services, holds a poster showing ancient forms of birth control including sea sponges. Photo by Bonnie Lee La Madeleine photo

Student Health Services provides counselling and prescriptions for a variety of birth control methods on campus.

According to Susan Kensett, a nurse at Langara Student Health Services, the pill remains popular, but women are exploring newer methods.

“When I go through hormonal options, I mention there is a ring and a patch,” she said. These methods exist because people can easily forget to take the pill every day.

“The really nice thing about the patch or the NuvaRing is that there is a steady release of hormones rather than a cyclical, 24-hour situation with pills,” Kensett said. 

IUDs are safe, effective and inexpensive, Kensett said. “The copper IUD, which doesn’t have any hormones, is under $100 and remains in place for up to five years.”

Many women are still reluctant to use IUDs or the NuvaRing because they are uncomfortable with having something inside them, she said.

Students can talk with a health care provider at Student Health Services about the potential side effects of birth control.

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