Women have more options than ever when it comes to birth control. That's why it's critical to find a birth control method, whether hormonal or nonhormonal, that works for you, your body, and your lifestyle. A women’s health specialist is your best resource for your questions and concerns about choosing contraception.
Here at Ideal Gynecology in Atlanta, Georgia, Lillian Schapiro, MD, and our team of women’s health practitioners want women to have the information they need to choose the best form of birth control for them.
What works for one woman may not be suitable for another. Don’t worry; to help you make sense of the array of options, we’ve created this quick guide, highlighting important aspects of the most commonly available options.
Birth control pill
The birth control pill, perhaps the most well-known form of contraception, is a daily pill containing the hormones progestin and/or estrogen. The pill is typically sold in monthly pill packs, but three- and 12-month packs are also available.
To prevent pregnancy, the hormones in the pill reduce or stop ovulation, and they thicken cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg. The pill also thins the uterine lining, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach.
When taken consistently, the pill is up to 99% effective. It's most effective when you take it at the same time each day.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small, T-shaped plastic devices placed in your uterus by a healthcare professional to prevent pregnancy. Both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs are available.
Hormonal IUDs, like Mirena® and Skyla®, contain progestin and work similarly to the pill by reducing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus. Some hormonal IUDs can also completely stop your period.
The copper-wrapped, non-hormonal IUD Paragard is a natural sperm repellent.
IUDs are extremely effective, with a success rate of over 99%. Regarded as one of the most effective methods of birth control, they provide long-term protection.
Hormonal IUDs can last anywhere from three to eight years, and the copper IUD can last up to 12 years.
Ideal Gynecology now offers a new option for women who have completed having children and want lighter periods with nonhormonal contraception. You can have a Cerene endometrial ablation and then have an IUD placed a few weeks later. This will both lighten periods and prevent pregnancy.
Birth control implant
The birth control implant is another form of contraceptive. It’s a small rod inserted under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. It contains progestin, protects against pregnancy for up to three years, and is 99% effective.
Birth control patch
The patch is worn on your abdomen, arm, lower back, or buttocks, where it delivers a combination of progestin and estrogen.
You wear the patch for three weeks (using a new patch each week), and for the fourth week, you leave the patch off. This allows you to get your period. Women wanting to skip their period can wear the patch continuously.
The patch is 99% effective when worn correctly and consistently.
The birth control ring
Birth control rings are small plastic circles the size of a hairband that you insert into your vagina to prevent pregnancy. NuvaRing® and Annovera® are two types of rings.
Rings contain progestin and estrogen, which absorb through the vaginal lining and thicken the cervical mucus. You keep the ring in for three weeks, then remove it for the fourth week to have your period.
You have the option of wearing a NuvaRing continuously and skipping your period (but not with Annovera). You get a new NuvaRing every month and once a year with Annovera.
The effectiveness of the ring ranges from 93-99%.
The birth control shot
The Depo-Provera shot is a hormonal injection that is administered once every three months.
The effectiveness of the shot ranges from 96-99%. You can get a new injection anywhere between 10-15 weeks after your last shot to ensure continuous protection. If you get your first injection within seven days of the first day of your period, it will begin working immediately.
If you don't, it will take a week to take effect, during which you should use a backup birth control method.
Choosing the right form of birth control for you
Birth control options certainly vary. Consider your lifestyle, what’s convenient for you, and what’s suitable for your body. Our team will also discuss potential side effects for you to consider.
The best form of birth control is the one that you can use the most effectively. Some women prefer long-term options that they don’t have to think about, while others opt for shorter-term birth control and feel comfortable with the maintenance.
Stop into our office, and let’s discuss which option is right for you. Our team at our Atlanta office can help you get set up with an appointment with Dr. Schapiro. Call or submit a booking request online today.