Birth Control Options while on Trail
While I may or may not have kids in this lifetime, I most certainly don’t want to be worrying about keeping my birth control consistent while on trail.
As I was searching for information about lady hygiene on trail, I noticed that there was a lack of information on birth control. There’s plenty of info about periods and what to do when you’re bleeding. So I researched some birth control methods (data source here), with a little help from my fellow AT thru-hiking ladies, before deciding which one I will use on trail.
It’s guaranteed some of you will have opinions that differ from mine. Please respect mine while I respect yours.
This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health-care provider with any questions you may have regarding the right birth control method for you.
The lowdown: 91% effective, take daily, hormones into the blood stream, $0-$50.
The pill sounds easy because it’s in a lightweight carrying case that you pop out whenever you need. But I have a hard time believing that I’ll remember to take an itty bitty pill at the same time every single day and don’t like the thought of having hormones go throughout my entire body. There’s also the issue of resupplying on trail. With a few exceptions, I’m avoiding doing resupply boxes because I don’t want to be bound by a strict schedule while hiking.
The lowdown: 91% effective, replace monthly, localized hormones, $0-$200.
My experience with the ring was great and it’s the only form of birth control that I’ve used prior. I loved it because the hormones are administered locally to your lady parts. However, like my concerns with the pill, I don’t want to stress about the schedule that comes along with it. The ring also needs to be kept in a cold place, which hinders your ability to ship in the summer.
The lowdown: 99% effective, lasts up to five years, hormones into the bloodstream, $0-$1,300.
My sister recommended that I get the Implant for the Trail. It’s put in and lasts for four years! You don’t have to worry about resupply or a schedule! All positive things. Except… the thought of having a tiny rod inserted just below the skin in my upper arm gives me the heebie-jeebies and the hormones aren’t administered locally. Getting thoroughly creeped out by feeling hers in her upper arm, I kept looking for options.
The lowdown: 99% effective, lasts three to 5 years*, localized hormones, $0-$1,300.
*My gynecologist does not perform the copper IUD insertion so this section is about the plastic one.
Last, and most certainly not least, the IUD. A little, T-shaped bit of plastic that is inserted into the uterus and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy for up five years. Fellow female AT thru-hikers told me that this is the birth control they will be using on trail and they love it so far. Ding ding ding! Something that uses localized hormones and is a long-term solution. I spoke to my doctor and he confirmed that this would be a great option for me and it’s covered by my insurance.
However, many women say that the pain of insertion is the worst pain they’ve ever felt.
I had my insertion appointment, and while it is in my top five of worst pains, it does not top the list. I even had to go through the pain twice because the doctor accidentally pulled the first one out. Ugh. For me, the cramping and pain lasted about 48 hours. Here’s hoping that it stays a positive experience.
This post is full of my personal thoughts about the four main methods of birth control. There are many more options out there. If you want to know more about any of these methods or other options available, Planned Parenthood has a very informative page here.
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