Photovoice- Birth Control

Bedsider-Birth-Control-Effectiveness-Poster01-IUDChart-final.nocrop.w710.h2147483647Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 3.21.03 PMScreen Shot 2017-07-30 at 3.25.10 PM

For this photo series I decided to discuss something that is very important to me both as a female and as a young adult in college. Sexual health is not only something very important to be educated on, but also to keep up with on a personal level. While sexual health is a natural part of our lives, it is also a large consumer market. Birth control methods are great money-makers in the modern world, but for most people, these methods are also a necessity. I took the time to do some research about what information this “market” is giving us, as well as whether the information is helpful to the consumer or not.

Choosing a birth control method can be very overwhelming today, with its myriad of options, but there is actually a ton of very simple and helpful resources that make the decision much easier. For my first photo I chose to insert a chart from Bedsider which lays out all of one’s birth control options, as well as their ranked effectiveness and how likely pregnancy is to occur. Though extremely simple, as a consumer I really appreciated how they chose to lay out the information. Although it is not a complete picture of each method, a chart like this is a great first step in showing consumers their options. I also loved their emphasis on condom use along with all forms of birth control for STI prevention. Upon using the chart, it became clear that intra-uterine devices were the most effective form of birth control on the market and decided to further research the options within this category. The second chart listed all available IUDs on the market along with the hormones they use and how much, as well as the length of time each brand is effective for. The asterisks (*) provided the information that further studies have found that some of these devices last longer than originally marketed for. I felt this chart was a great resource for consumers to decide what brand they could further research to best suite their needs, as well as a provided a platform to research levonorgestrel and its affects. I decided to look into the two most common brands, Mirena and Paraguard.

Each brand had its own website with features such as cost, who it works best for, frequently asked questions, side effects, etc. I decided to screen grab the side effects page from each brand because I felt as a consumer I would want to compare and contrast these important issues. Overall, I had a great experience in the so-called birth control market. It is rare, as a consumer, to feel that the products and the information they provide are truly after your best interest; however, it truly seemed to me that these brands wanted to provide all possible information for their consumers to make an informed decision for their sexual health. This market lays out all the choices for the consumer and provides substantial information for each one. Though it did seem that specific brands within one category may have tried to compete in price, all brands provided necessary information and made it clear that their brand may not be the best option for some people. All areas that I researched within this market also emphasized the importance of speaking to one’s healthcare provider to discuss your best options.

I thoroughly enjoyed using photos to discuss a consumer market in the world of health, or sexual health more specifically. As someone who is an active consumer in this particular marketplace, I had never actually done this much research. Sexual health is something that I believe to be extremely important and I was surprised at how much I had learned after doing research and finding these photos. Reading about all the different methods on the market and seeing birth control from a consumer’s perspective really broadened my knowledge of the options I have as well as the importance of being educated. I had never before thought to read about a hormone and the effects of each dosage of it, nor had I considered the effectiveness of different forms of prevention. In every day life, I often get frustrated by all of the different brands and options that we are given every day. Is Mr. Clean better than Scrubbing Bubbles? Is Ben and Jerry’s cheaper than Tillamook? Why can’t their just be one great brand for everything that we need? But thoroughly reviewing each IUD brand, I realized the importance of options. No two people are the same and what works for some may not work for others. I became more appreciative of the options we have today, and my faith in humanity was slightly restored as I read about brands that truly want the best for their consumers. Using these photos provided a glimpse into the great experience I had with researching this market, and I think visual displays are a great learning tool. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

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