Shortage of Contraceptives: A Guide to Know How to Act Correctly

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Colombia is Experiencing a Shortage of Contraceptives that is Worrying About the Effects it may Have on Family Planning. For this Reason, we Share a Guide that will Help you Understand how to Act and What are the Best Alternatives.

Contraceptive methods

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LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Escasez de anticonceptivos: guía para saber cómo actuar de forma correcta

In recent months, Colombia has suffered from a shortage of oral contraceptives. In fact, this was announced by the Colombian Association of Retail Pharmacist (Asocoldro). Despite the fact that in such a situation, many women have run out of their usual medications and wonder what is the best way to act without jeopardizing their contraception plan and getting pregnant without looking for it. For this reason, we spoke with the gynecologist Catalina Agudelo Restrepo to understand what the best alternatives are in case you cannot find the usual contraceptive brand or method.

How long after stopping taking contraceptives is the effect lost?

In the first place, it is important to point out that "the effect (of the contraceptive) is generally lost after the first week, which would be like the rest week. If the patient does not restart the contraceptive pills, she could present ovulation and risk of pregnancy", assures Dr. Catalina Agudelo. For this reason, it is best not to take risks and start using a barrier method, immediately stopping taking the pill. This is while medications are again obtained, or another method of family planning is chosen.

What is the protocol to restart taking the contraceptive pill?

One of the most frequent doubts in the face of the shortage of medicines is how to restart taking contraceptives once they have stopped consuming them for a few days or weeks. The answer varies according to the type of cycle of each woman. "Patients who are regular, that is, the judicious cycle comes every month, can wait until the first day of menstruation to start a new box. However, those who are irregular could start them at any time," says the specialist.

However, if you have a regular cycle, but don't want to wait until your next period, you can start the box at any time. However, Dr. Agudelo explains that this could cause an alteration in the menstrual cycle because it could move a little.

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If I can't find my brand of birth control, can I switch to another brand?

Yes. However, it must be a pill that has the same compounds, which are usually two: estrogen and progestin. "Generally, in pharmacies, the people in charge know which pills have the same hormones. However, you also have to make sure they have the same concentration, an equivalence in milligrams," says the gynecologist.

Additionally, the professional also recommends that this be done for a pill with the same compounds and milligrams, the safest option is to use a condom during the first 15 days after the change of brand.

Can I change my contraceptive method?

One of the methods that works under the same logic of releasing a small amount of hormones day by day is the vaginal ring or contraceptive ring. However, despite its certain similarity to birth control pills, it cannot be interspersed with them. "The hormonal ring is an excellent option, but it does not have equivalent pills. In other words, it cannot be alternated with birth control pills."

However, there are also other types of contraceptive methods that can be used to permanently replace birth control pills. In this case, it is best to make an evaluation of the pros and cons, review them with the gynecologist or head gynecologist and discuss it with the couple. "Another good option is to consult a gynecologist and access intrauterine devices or subdermal implants, which are long-term planning methods," says the doctor.

Finally, it should be noted that the only methods that protect against sexually transmitted diseases are barrier methods. For this reason, the use of condoms is always recommended, especially when you do not have a stable partner with whom you can be sure of protecting your sexual health. Likewise, there are some non-hormonal planning methods such as the symptothermal method. However, there is no ideal method of contraception for all people, for this reason it is necessary to consult specialists in sexual and reproductive health and make an informed decision.