Health and well-being come from a balance between our physical, mental, social and sexual wellness. Sexual health is an integral part of our overall health.
You can talk about sexual and reproductive health, relationships, birth control, pregnancy plans and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) during a healthcare appointment.
Ensuring appropriate birth control is the responsible thing to do for yourself and your partner. A reliable birth control method will allow you to have more energy to enjoy life. Below you can find descriptions about a number of birth control methods, and together with a healthcare professional you and/or your partner can decide on the best option for your current situation. Condoms are the only means of birth control that protect against STDs. If you suspect an STD infection, you can get tested at your own health station.
Sexual and relationship guidance is available and worth utilising.
Birth control after childbirth
Childbirth is a huge and wonderful change to a woman, her body, her relationship with her partner and the entire family. You now have a new family member but also each other, a shared background, the present moment and the future, and these should be actively maintained.
Even if it has taken a long time to get pregnant, fertility may ultimately happen quickly for a couple who have been having trouble conceiving. With many women, the first ovulation (the release of the egg) will happen before their first period, and so the possibility of a pregnancy already exists. The parents should talk about their relationship and the type of birth control they intend to use after their baby is born, before the birth and the hectic life of a family with a newborn.
Birth control will be discussed during the follow-up examination after childbirth, and the parents will be provided with information about the various options during and after breastfeeding. You should bring up your wishes and questions concerning birth control during a visit to the maternity clinic or your health station, or by contacting the centralised birth control advice service.
Birth control options after childbirth
When used correctly, a condom is a good option to use before moving on to other methods or if there is no need for a long-term solution. Research shows that condoms offer the most effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Due to hormonal changes, the vaginal mucosa of a breastfeeding woman is thin and sensitive, and the use of a lubricant, or a vaginal oestrogen insert or gel, is recommended and safe.
Intrauterine birth control (coils)
A copper coil or a hormonal coil can be inserted after the follow-up examination. A copper device will increase the menstrual flow and may also increase the amount of menstrual pain. Women with a history of heavy, long or painful menstruation and tendency towards anaemia should carefully consider other birth control options.
A hormonal device releases progesterone into the uterus. Its strong local effect on the uterine mucosa will result in a reduction in menstrual flow. In addition to providing a form of birth control, hormonal coils are used as medical treatment for heavy or painful periods. The effect of the device in the body is weaker than that of other hormonal products, which significantly decreases the risk of adverse hormonal effects.
Combined contraceptive products contain both oestrogen and progesterone. Combined contraceptives come in the form of pills, patches and vaginal rings. The general contraindications (e.g. migraine, tendency towards thrombosis, age and smoking, excess weight) to combined contraceptives must be taken into account when planning their use. Traditionally, breastfeeding women are recommended to wait for six months after giving birth until they start using a combination contraceptive. If the woman is not breastfeeding and no contraindications to combination contraceptives exist, she may begin using them three months after giving birth.
Progesterone-only contraception (the so-called mini pill, birth control implant) is suitable for women who breastfeed or who have a contraindication to combined contraceptives. Unanticipated bleeding may occur, especially during initial use. During the follow-up examination after childbirth, the doctor may provide a prescription for mini pills.
If the woman is breastfeeding full-time (including nights), her period has not resumed, and her child is under 6 months of age, breastfeeding will provide protection that is as effective as from a condom. The acronym LAM (lactational amenorrhea method) is used for this method.
A breastfeeding mother may also use emergency contraception, if necessary. However, another form of birth control should be chosen for long-term use.
The pullout method or ‘safe days’ are not forms of birth control.
Sterilisation is intended as a permanent solution, and both women and men can undergo sterilisation. Sterilisation can be performed on a woman at the maternity hospital during childbirth, if she has made plans for it during pregnancy and delivers her baby by C-section. In all other cases, you can contact your own health station after the birth in order to apply for a sterilisation.