Today, some 60 years after the invention of “the pill,” women have more contraceptive options than ever before. The reproductive health specialists at City Care Family Practice can help you understand your choices so you can find the method that’s best for you.
You can’t make an informed decision about contraception unless you know what your options are. Every birth control method (apart from abstinence, withdrawal, and a partner’s vasectomy) falls into one of five general categories. They are:
This form of birth control uses female reproductive hormones (estrogen and/or progestin) to prevent monthly ovulation. If you’re not ovulating, there’s no egg available for fertilization.
Combined oral contraception (the pill), the contraceptive patch, and the vaginal ring contain estrogen and progestin; progestin-only methods include the mini-pill, injectable birth control (the shot), implants, and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Apart from progestin-releasing implants and IUDs, hormonal methods are a short-acting form of birth control that requires consistent use to be fully effective.
As LARC forms of birth control, implants and IUDs are designed to stay in place and remain effective for years. They can be removed or replaced at the recommended time, or they can be removed earlier if desired.
An implant is a pliable, matchstick-sized rod that’s inserted just beneath the skin of your upper arm. It prevents ovulation by releasing progestin, and remains effective for up to five years.
An IUD is a small T-shaped device that’s placed in your uterus to keep sperm from reaching an egg. Progestin-releasing IUDs, which also prevent ovulation, can stay in place for three to five years. Copper IUDs, which are effective for up to 10 years, emit sperm-repelling copper ions.
Barrier methods are a removable form of contraception that keeps sperm out of your uterus. Condoms and diaphragms are the most common barrier methods; other forms include cervical caps, female condoms, contraceptive sponges, and spermicidal foams.
This type of birth control helps prevent an unintended pregnancy following unprotected sex or birth control failure, such as condom breakage. While a copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception, the morning-after pill is the easiest way to keep an egg and sperm from coming together after the fact.
Also known as sterilization, this is an irreversible form of contraception designed to prevent pregnancy for life. Whether it’s done surgically (tubal ligation) or with an implant, it works by blocking, cutting, tying, or sealing off your fallopian tubes.
Once you understand your options, it’s time to determine how each one meets — or doesn’t meet — your personal needs. The following factors should inform and shape your decision:
Your health is an important determining factor if you’re considering combined hormonal birth control. Depending on your medical history, methods that combine estrogen and progestin may increase your risk of developing a blood clot or high blood pressure.
Your doctor at City Care Family Practice can let you know if your health is a determining factor in your choice of birth control.
Birth control is only effective when it’s used properly, so it’s vitally important that you feel at ease with the method you choose. The pill may not be your best option, for example, if you don’t think you’ll be able to remember to take it at about the same time every day.
When you’re in a committed relationship with one person, one form of contraception — such as the pill, an IUD, or an implant — is often sufficient. If you have multiple partners, however, it’s a good idea to use condoms as well.
Besides providing increased protection against pregnancy, a condom also reduces your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
If you don’t want to start a family for several years, but you don’t want to have to think about birth control on a regular basis, LARC methods (IUDs and implants) can be an ideal solution.
Similarly, if your family is already complete or you’re certain that you don’t ever want to have children, permanent birth control may be your best option. This is the most common form of contraception for women who are done having children but haven’t yet reached menopause.
If you’d like to learn more about your birth control options or find out how well each one meets your needs, the team at City Care Family Practice can help. Call our Midtown, New York City, office today, or click online to schedule a televisit with one of our reproductive health experts any time.