Birth control is a safe, effective way to prevent pregnancy when you’re not ready to have children. Around 64% use some form of contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. There isn’t a single approach to pregnancy prevention that’s right for every woman. When it comes to choosing the right contraceptive, the ideal option is the one that best fits what’s important to you as a unique individual.
The team of physicians and nurses here at Ideal Gynecology are dedicated to helping women throughout all phases of life. Our OB/GYNs Lillian Schapiro, MD, and Kristan Adams, MD, along with women’s health specialist Kathryn Garren, WHNP, are here to answer your questions and help you choose the right birth control that fits your needs and lifestyle. Keep reading to learn more about your options.
Types of Birth Control
Today, women have several types of birth control to choose from. The large majority of birth control options fall into two categories: hormonal and barrier. They work by either blocking sperm from reaching an egg or by delivering hormones that disrupt the ovulation process. Without ovulation there’s no egg for sperm to fertilize.
Women who want to end their reproductive years may consider a permanent form of birth control. This method is difficult to reverse if you change your mind. Making this choice requires considerable thought and complete assurance that you no longer want to have children.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
At over 99% effectiveness, intrauterine devices (IUDs) are some of the most effective birth control options available. These small devices fit inside your uterus and prevent pregnancy for several years.
There are currently two types of IUDs available:
Hormonal: This type of IUD delivers tiny amounts of hormone into the lining of the uterus, triggering changes that block sperm from entering the cervix. Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy for different lengths of time depending on the one you choose. In general, hormonal IUDs are effective for 3 to 7 years. Many women using this type of IUD also notice lighter, less symptomatic periods.
Copper: ParaGard is a small, hormone-free IUD made of copper that prevents pregnancy in two ways: it alters cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to get through and it destroys sperm. ParaGard is FDA approved for 10 years of use, and data shows ParaGard is effective for up to 12 years, making it a very effective long-term option. At the time of this blog, ParaGard is the only FDA-approved hormone-free IUD available.
Both hormonal and copper IUDs offer long-term effectiveness for preventing pregnancy. They’re completely reversible and you can take them out at any time.
Other barrier type contraceptives include:
- Cervical caps
These types of contraceptives range in effectiveness from 76% - 82% effective.
Oral birth control
Likely the most well-known of contraceptives, oral birth control are medications that contain the hormone progestin alone or together with the hormone estrogen. Oral contraceptives prevent pregnancy by stopping your eggs from developing each month.
There’s a larger margin for error when taking oral birth control as you must take them every day, preferably at the same time for them to be effective. When used correctly they’re 93% to 97% effective on average.
Implant, patch, birth control shot
For women whose lifestyle makes it difficult to remember to take a pill each day, other options such the implant, patch or shot may be ideal.
Birth control implant
The birth control implant is a very small, thin rod that your provider injects under the skin of your upper arm that releases hormones to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Once in place, birth control implants prevent pregnancy for up to five years and is over 99% effective
Birth control patch
The birth control patch is an effective short-term option that is around 91% effective. The patch adheres to your skin and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. The patch is effective for 21 days. The fourth week you’re patch-free, which allows menstruation to occur. You wear a new patch each month.
Birth control injections
Contraceptives injections, also known as birth control shots, work for 90 days. You get a shot every three months. The injections contain hormones that stop you from getting pregnant and are over 94% effective.
Choosing the right option for you
There is no one form of birth control that is better than the other. Birth control is a personal choice and will depend on a number of factors. Here are some key things to consider when discussing birth control options with your provider:
- How soon, if ever, you will want to get pregnant
- Maintenance requirements
- Side effect tolerability
- How often you have sex
- Your overall health
Preparing questions about contraceptive options beforehand can help your appointment with your provider go smoothly.
Guidance on birth control options
The team at Ideal Gynecology is here to help you navigate the available options for birth control. When you’re ready to discuss your options in-depth, reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team by calling or booking your appointment online today.