I don’t know if any of my fellow Arizonans have noticed, but it’s hot. It’s been hot. And all sources tell me that it’s likely to remain hot for a couple of months yet.
There are, of course, things we can do to make the heat more manageable for ourselves, such as drinking plenty of water and relegating intense outdoor activity to the early morning or late evening hours. There are also things we can do to help our contraceptives beat the heat if necessary, such as storing condoms or birth control pills away from extreme heat.
Still, some types of contraception require more intervention during the summer than do others. So — our top eight types of heat-friendly birth control!
Quick disclaimer: I made this list based on the single criterion that these methods are unlikely to be affected by the heat of an Arizona summer. When selecting a contraceptive method, there are loads of other factors to consider. So the methods on this list are not necessarily the most effective or appropriate methods for every person needing birth control.
8 Birth Control Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: In terms of storage, it’s technically not; NuvaRing comes with the same temperature recommendations as oral contraceptive pills. However, since the ring is only inserted once per month, folks getting their rings one at a time don’t have to worry about longer-term storage.
- Cons: In addition to the same risks and side effects of estrogen-containing contraceptives, NuvaRing isn’t the heat-friendliest choice for users getting more than one month at a time.
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: As most current diaphragms are made from silicone rather than latex, they’re not as subject to temperature fluctuations.
- Cons: To fit the definition of correct use, the diaphragm does require the addition of spermicide. Most commercial spermicides do come with temperature restrictions.
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: Once the procedure has been performed (and verified, depending on the procedure), it is designed to be permanent contraception. There’s very little in terms of weather patterns that will undo it. No, not even monsoon season.
- Cons: It is, well, permanent, which may well be a deal breaker for folks who’d like to keep their future fertility options open. Additionally, some procedures are not effective immediately — so getting this done at the beginning of summer would still require some heat precautions in the interim.
5 Outercourse or Abstinence
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: As behavioral methods, they’re pretty much entirely dependent on what the participants choose to do — or not do! And used consistently and correctly, both are very effective methods.
- Cons: While penis-in-vagina is not the only sex act, for some people, removing it from the table (or bed!) entirely is a deal breaker.
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: As another behavioral method, it’s based on what actions participants do or don’t take. However, unlike abstinence or outercourse, the range of “prohibited activities” is much narrower.
- Cons: Because it requires a lot of user intervention — during every instance of penis-in-vagina sex, at a very specific part in the act — it can be a tricky method to use perfectly. Its typical use — which includes not always using the method consistently or correctly — failure rate may be high enough to be a deal breaker for some people.
3 Birth Control Shot (Depo-Provera)
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: While the shot itself is sensitive to temperature extremes, it’s typically administered by a health care provider (like a Planned Parenthood health center) that has controlled, cooled storage. Additionally, because each shot prevents pregnancy for about three months, users may only need to visit a health care provider once or twice (it is Arizona, after all) over the course of the hot weather.
- Cons: The main con with Depo-Provera is that once the injection is given, it stays in your system for those three months. It cannot be discontinued immediately, so there’s no way for a Depo user to stop any side effects that might be experienced.
2 Birth Control Implant (Implanon and Nexplanon)
- Why It’s Heat Friendly: Once the implant is inserted, it’s subject only to body temperature rather than outside temperature fluctuations. Additionally, once inserted, the implant is very effective contraception for up to three years.
- Cons: Because implants are designed to be long-term contraceptives, they may not be cost effective for folks who are looking for shorter-term contraception. Additionally, in the case of persistent, deal-breaker side effects, implants require a visit to a health care provider to remove.
- Why They’re Heat Friendly: Like implants, IUDs are inserted into the body, which means their effectiveness does not depend on a specific, controlled external temperature. Unlike implants, however, IUDs come in hormonal (progestin-only) and non-hormonal options, which may make them suitable for a wider range of users.
- Cons: The same upfront cost concerns that exist with implants may also exist with IUDs. Moreover, the IUD insertion process may be uncomfortable or painful, though this is generally short-lived.
Of course, there’s always the option of combining methods in order to minimize any heat-related issues each may have. And if you discover that you’ve had sex with a potentially compromised method of contraception (whether it’s due to heat or other factors), it’s always worth knowing about emergency contraception, available at most area pharmacies and Planned Parenthood health centers.
As for me, I’m going to hide in the air conditioning until about October! 😉
There are many contraceptive choices available to anyone who is interested in learning about family-planning methods. If you’re interested in birth control methods to prevent pregnancy, Planned Parenthood is able to help you find the best choice for you. Stop by your local Planned Parenthood health center for more information.
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