Millions of women make the decision to prevent pregnancy until they are ready to take on the responsibilities of parenting. Today, women have many effective options available to chose from based on your individual needs.
Birth Control Pills
A common choice for most women in the United States. Birth control pills work very well and must be taken daily. When used correctly, less than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant. However, typical use of the pill results in about 3 in 100 women getting pregnant. All pills contain hormones, most being a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Current doses of hormones in pills are much lower than what they used to be years ago. Common side effects can be spotting or irregular bleeding, hormonal changes, headaches, skin changes, mild weight gain
The vaginal ring combines estrogen and progesterone in a plastic ring delivered through the vaginal tissue to provide effective birth control. This option is ideal for women who may be unable to take a pill every day due to a busy schedule or inability to remember.
The Depo Provera injection is a progesterone only option delivered in the form of an injection every 3 months to provide birth control. This is an option for women who want reliable birth control but can’t take estrogen due to health reasons. It also is useful in women who have more success if they don’t have to remember to take birth control every day. After 2 years of use, Depo Provera has been shown to cause some levels of reversible bone loss in some women. All women of reproductive age should take proper calcium and vitamin D daily, but especially those women taking Depo Provera.
Birth Control Skin Patch
The birth control skin patch is a small (1.75 square inch) adhesive patch that is worn on the skin to prevent pregnancy. The patch releases estrogen and progestin, which are absorbed through the skin into the body. A health care professional must prescribe the patch, but you do not need an office visit to apply or remove the patch. The patch is less effective in women who weigh more than 198 pounds. The patch can be worn on the buttocks, chest (except the breasts), upper back or arm, or abdomen. You wear a patch for a week at a time for a total of 3 weeks in a row. During the fourth week, a patch is not worn, and you will have your period. After week 4, a new patch is applied and the cycle is repeated. You apply the patch on the same day of the week even if you still are bleeding. To use the patch as a continuous-dose form of birth control, apply a new patch every week on the same day without skipping a week.
Nexplanon is a small rod placed under the skin, contains progesterone, and lasts for 3 years. Side effects are minimal and insertion is done in the office.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
Intrauterinue devices, or IUDs, are highly effective forms of contraception. A few options are available: Mirena, Paragard, and Kyleena. The IUD is placed in the office and requires precertification from the insurance company. Mirena is a 5 year option that contains progesterone and offers a light menstrual cycle. Paraguard is a 10 year option that contains no hormones and allows women to maintain normal menstrual cycle each month. Kyleena is effective for 5 years and is recommended for women and teens who have not been pregnant before.
For women who have completed childbearing and desire no future children, sterilization offers a permanent solution. Traditional sterilization through laparoscopic surgery is available. Additionally, many men are now handling sterilization on their end through vasectomy. Talk to your provider for more information on which contraception option is best for you.