Making a smart decision about contraception is a responsible step for your reproductive health. When used correctly, many contraceptives are extremely effective.
Before you settle on a form of birth control, think about your lifestyle, reproductive goals, and current health, and learn about the possible drawbacks for each method. After you’ve done that, make an appointment with an OB/GYN to sit down and discuss your options.
Oral birth control pills have been around for over 50 years and remain the most commonly used type of contraception. They come in two forms. The combined pill contains estrogen and progestin, and the mini-pill contains only progestin.
Because they’re hormone-based, you must take your pill each day, usually at the same time. If you have a regular routine and can remember to take your pill, this is an excellent option for many women.
Hormone-based contraceptives aren’t safe if you have a history of, or are at risk for:
- Blood clots in your legs or lungs
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Smoke and are above age 35
The patch is the same as oral pills, except the hormone is delivered through your skin. The patch is a thin, elastic patch that sticks to your skin like a bandage, and you change once a week. For women who don’t have a regular daily routine, or aren’t keen on taking a pill every day, the patch is more convenient.
Women who aren’t planning to have children in the next 2-10 years may opt for a long-term contraceptive solution such as an intrauterine device (IUD). These small, t-shaped devices go inside your uterus and stop sperm from reaching an egg. They work for up to 10 years and come in two forms -- hormone-based IUDs and copper-based IUDs without hormones. They are overall very safe and our the most common birth control method used world wide.
The implant is a contraceptive method that provides up to three years of protection. It contains progestin, the same hormone in oral pills, and gradually releases it into your body to produce the same effect as oral contraceptives. It’s inserted under your skin and removed after three years. This is a good option for women who aren’t planning a family in the next few years and prefer a long-term solution.
Contraceptive injections contain the hormone progestin. Each shot lasts about three months, and the effects cannot be reversed during that period. Pregnancy can occur if you forget to renew your shot in time.
The vaginal ring is a small, plastic device that you place in your vagina. It contains the same hormones as the contraceptive pill. You leave the ring in for three weeks and remove it during your period. After that you replace it with a new one.
Diaphragms and cervical caps are nonhormonal devices placed inside your vagina that are coated with spermicide and form a barrier that prevents sperm from getting through. You must coat the device with spermicide each time before you have sex and need to remove and clean it 24-48 hours after.
Things to consider
A few things to mull over in preparation for your appointment include whether you:
- Would rather take a pill every day
- Prefer to have a contraceptive in place and not think about it for several months or several years
- Have health conditions that prevent you from safely using hormone-based methods.
- Like the flexibility of a contraceptive that you change out weekly
- Are overweight and want a contraceptive that doesn’t cause weight gain
- Want to get pregnant in the near future and need an option where you can quickly return your fertility to normal
- Prefer the most effective options (effectiveness ranges from 76% to over 99%)
At New Beginnings OB-GYN, Dr. Singh and our team can help you navigate contraception and make the decision that’s right for you. Call the office or schedule your appointment online to receive individualized women’s health care tailored to meet your needs.