Healthy Cane Column

This is a hypothetical case:

I am in a new relationship and it’s starting to get serious. My boyfriend and I are talking about having sex but I am worried about getting pregnant. The problem is, since I have never been on birth control, I don’t know a lot about it. What is the best type?

Ah, sex! It’s fun, it’s healthy, but it can lead to babies. Now we are all in college so hopefully no one wants to take the Britney Spears route.

There are four major classes of birth control: hormonal, intrauterine devices, barrier methods and permanent birth control or sterilization.

The hormonal method includes birth control pills, the Depo-Provera shot, the hormonal skin patch, the implant and the vaginal ring. Birth control pills are the most common, and there are two basic types: a pill that combines the two hormones estrogen and progesterone and the mini-pill that contains only progesterone. The combined pill is about 99 percent effective and the mini-pill is about 98 percent effective.

The Depo-Provera shot is a hormone shot that releases progesterone slowly into the body, preventing ovulation. It lasts eight to 12 weeks, and has been reported to be 99 percent effective.

The patch is ideal if you are forgetful or don’t like to take pills. It is a progesterone supplement absorbed through the skin like a nicotine patch. There is a downside to this patch, though. Remember when you were little and you left a Band-Aid on for a while, then took it off and your skin was pruned and you had a dirt ring where the bandage was? Well that’s what is going to happen where you place the patch.

Implanon, which is an etonogesterel implant that also releases hormones into the body, is about 99 percent effective and can last for three years. says that because Implanon does not contain estrogen, your healthcare provider may recommend Implanon if you cannot use estrogen. There is a catch to this, however: Implanon is a flexible plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that is placed under the skin of your arm.

Intrauterine methods are grouped into three categories: intrauterine device (IUD), the intrauterine system (IUS) and Gynefix. All of them work in a similar ways and all have to be fitted by a gynecologist. An IUD is a T-shaped plastic device that stops the sperm from reaching the egg and preventing the egg from implanting in the uterus. IUDs can be problematic because the body can reject the device and may even increase the risk of infections. IUSs work the same way, except they contain progesterone and estrogen and release these hormones into the body. Gynefix is like IUD and IUSs except it is composed of a row of copper beads, which bend to fit inside the uterus, and has a nylon thread that attaches to the uterine wall. It also can assist in releasing heavy and painful periods and is about 99 percent effective.

Another barrier method is using condoms, which are 94 to 98 percent effective on their own. Be sure to always use them properly by reading the directions on the box. Using condoms with lubrication and spermicide makes the experience more pleasurable. Don’t be cheap and use petroleum jelly because oil-based products decrease the effectiveness of a condom by 90 percent. Female condoms are another barrier method that fits inside the vagina and prevents sperm from entering. These are less common, however, and are about 95 percent effective.

E-mail Healthy Cane questions to

February 7, 2008


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

The Miami Hurricanes, still waiting for a starting quarterback to be named, are in the top 25 again. ...

Happy first day of school for everyone out there, including the University of Miami students. We jus ...

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? 'Dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. W ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.