The Sexy Series: Birth Control
The Run Down
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed physician. All the information I provide will either be anecdotal (from my own experiences, or those of whom I know) or sourced from credible articles written by those who are licensed physicians or sex therapists.
Birth control is a very hard topic in Belize. Since the majority (if not all) of schools prescribe to an abstinence-only sex ed program, girls are left with little knowledge of their bodies. I remember the numerous stories about girls who didn’t know they were pregnant because they thought that if the had sex standing up, or upside down, the sperm cells wouldn’t be able to make it swimming upwards. People truly still believe that the pull out method is a viable birth control option. Or the ever pervasive rumor that red Fanta can induce abortion.
We can do better. We need to do better. The resources, are there, albeit hidden behind Belize Elementary School. BFLA has all the resources necessary to aid both young men and women in leading better, healthier sex lives.
While this article aims to offer a well rounded look at all birth control options available, it will focus specifically on options easily available to Belizeans. Sexual health should not be inaccessible to anyone.
Are! Available! Everywhere! They’re not fun. No one likes them. But they work. If you are having sex with multiple partners, they are the only way to be entirely safe. Although this article is on birth control, STD’s are still something you need to worry about, particularly in Belize where we have the highest HIV infection rate per capita in Central America. Condoms can and should be used in tandem with other birth control methods. They are the only surefire way to protect yourself from contracting STD’s. Even if you think you’re being safe, if you suspect your partner is not, a condom is necessary. Worth noting, Lambskin condoms (which.. ew) do not prevent the spread of STD’s (because they’re literally made from lambskin and are therefore a cellular membrane that viruses can pass through, where as rubber and latex condoms are not). You can get condoms for free at most family planning organizations (You know what I’m gonna say. Go to BFLA.).
Inner Arm Implants
I was on Implanon for 3 years which you can actually get at BFLA for $30. It’s a small plastic implant they put in your arm with a syringe and it prevents pregnancy up to 4 years! I took mine out recently and the nurse practitioner just made a small incision and took it out. But it costs $30 (Belize!) and lasts literally 4 years it’s a really good option if you’re bad at remembering to fill a prescription. Implanon is actually (lol) illegal in the United States, where you can only get Nexplanon, but its the same concept and acts exactly the same. After the first month you stop having your period all together, so if you’re someone who suffers from painful menstruation (I was) it’s really pleasant to be able to forgo that altogether.
An IUD, or intrauterine contraceptive device, is an implant form of birth control that is placed within the uterus itself by a physician. The IUD can be a coil, loop, triangle, or T in shape made of plastic or metal. While there are multiple kinds, both the hormonal and the copper varieties are easily available in Belize. The hormonal IUD functions much in the same way as an inner arm implant; it releases a steady dose of contraceptive hormones over the course of several years. You don’t need to think about taking a pill every day if you are using this method either. Common side effects of hormonal birth control are still a risk, but if you use the copper method, you avoid those, as all it does is force your body to expel everything during your monthly period by reading as a foreign body in the uterus. While on the hormonal IUD your period will likely stop. Using the copper IUD you will still menstruate normally. NuvaRing is a brand name, but it is another hormonal method that is placed inter-uterine. Some people say that it is more comfortable than other IUDs as it is a flexible ring that is placed rather than a rigid plastic of copper coil. I’ve also heard reports that the string that descends from the coil forms can be felt during sex but I can neither confirm nor deny that as I’ve never used any.
I don’t know if this has changed but last I entered a pharmacy in Belize you don’t actually need a prescription for birth control. I used to be on Yasmin oral contraceptive because at the time it was the lowest dose available and the high doses in things like Yaz made me nauseous. I never really had a great experience with oral contraceptives but the only way to find out if it works for you (aside from knowing if you can remember to take the pill everyday at the same time) is to try it. While you don’t need a prescription to get birth control in Belize, it’s important to have a doctor monitor you when messing with the hormone balance of your body. You don’t need to have a parent in the room with you when you speak to a doctor either, for younger readers. But you should be seeing a gyno whether or not you’re sexually active once you begin to reach your sexual maturity so wanting to see one shouldn’t be a red flag for those who still live with parents who they’re not comfortable speaking with. Try and schedule an appointment when you know your parents are busy so you don’t need to worry about feeling pressured to let them in the doctors office with you.
If there are any questions you feel haven’t been covered, or if you have any suggestions for future topics, please send me a message here. Sending anonymously is an option.
As always, click here to donate to BFLA, Belize's only non-profit dedicated to promoting equal access to sexual and reproductive health and wellness. You can also explore the services they offer here.