by Olivia Guerrieri
My birth control adventure started when I was in high school. My menstrual cramps had always been bad, but during my freshman year of high school, they were so bad that I was missing days of school each month. Luckily, my mom and I had the kind of relationship where I could talk to her about this stuff! She made me an appointment with a gynecologist, and the gynecologist prescribed hormonal birth control pills to help moderate my PMS symptoms. The pill didn’t completely fix my cramps, but it made them way more tolerable—no more missing school! I’ve been on the pill since then, so when I started having sex, I was already protected from accidental pregnancy (but of course, I still used condoms for STI prevention!)
During college, I started thinking more about whether the pill was the best birth control method for me. I knew I wanted to stay on some form of hormonal birth control, but in college, I met more people who were using methods other than the pill—the implant, IUDs, the ring, and more! I did some research, and decided the ring would be the best fit for me. Unlike the pill, I don’t have to remember something every day, but the ring is still pretty non-invasive—I put it in and take it out myself, no medical procedure necessary.
The ring can be used in a couple different ways (talk to your gyno to learn more!), but here’s generally how it works for me: Once a month, my phone alerts me that it’s time to take out the current ring, replace it in the foil pouch it came in, and throw it away. Different gynecologists will recommend different lengths of time to wait before replacing the ring, anywhere between immediately and one week later. I wait three days, and then I put in the next ring by squeezing it into a narrow shape and inserting it in my vagina.
My favorite thing about the ring is that I don’t have to think about it every day! After years of the pill, only doing something once a month is great. An added bonus: I often don’t get my period at all! This might be a downside for people who like the monthly confirmation that they aren’t pregnant, but with how bad my cramps are, I love it! For now, I think the ring is the perfect method for me, but after I’ve had children, I plan to switch to the IUD or another more long-term method.
When looking for the right birth control, the best advice I can give is research, research, research! Talk to your friends and relatives to see what they use, check out websites like Bedsider or Planned Parenthood for more information, and of course, ask your gynecologist!