Women have many choices now when it comes to controlling their reproduction. It can feel overwhelming at times with so many options available. There are many factors to consider when deciding on the right birth control method for you, and your OB/GYN in Surprise, AZ can answer any questions or concerns you may have. So what is available?
Permanent Birth Control
For women, there is the option of permanent contraception, referred to as sterilization. It is a one-time procedure in which the doctor will make a small incision through the abdomen by which the Fallopian tubes will be cut and sealed or removed. This makes it impossible for sperm and egg to meet. This is often referred to as having your “tubes tied.” It should be considered irreversible, although in rare instances it has been reversed. Successful reversal is never guaranteed, so you should be certain you’re happy with your family size.
Implantable and Intrauterine Contraception
These are highly effective, long-term options for women who may want children in the future, but want birth control they don’t have to think about for an extended period of time. There are five approved brands of Intrauterine Devices for use in the U.S. at this time. One non-hormonal copper IUD, called Paraguard, which can last more than a decade, as well as four hormonal IUDs. Two last for up to seven years, Mirena and Liletta, Kyleena works up to five years, while Skyla works up to three years. They all release low doses of the hormone progestin. They work by making it more difficult for sperm to meet egg by changing the mucous around the cervix. Hormonal IUDs also work by preventing ovulation, meaning there is no egg there to be fertilized. The copper in the non-hormonal Paraguard works by making it difficult for sperm to survive. They all make it difficult for a pregnancy to occur. They also offer effectiveness of over 99%. The implantable option is called Implanon. It is a small rod inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It releases a small amount of progestin, which helps prevent pregnancy for up to five years. Hormonal IUDs also offer the benefit of shorter, lighter periods over time for most women.
The birth control pill is a popular option. Most are a combination of an estrogen and a progestin. There are many brands of oral contraception and when taken correctly, every day, they are up to 99.7% effective. Forgetting a pill greatly increases the risk of undesired pregnancy. Some formulations will reduce heavy bleeding and cramping when used as directed, and some will also offer the benefit of clearer skin in adult women who have problems with acne. If you are breastfeeding, there is a progestin-only pill. It must be taken at the exact same time every day for best effectiveness, though it is not as effective as the combination pills, with a success rate of just under 93%. The pill can be stopped at any time should you desire to get pregnant, though it could take one or two cycles to regulate ovulation.
The FDA approved injectable contraceptive, Depo-Provera, is an option that involves a single injection every three months for longer-term birth control. It is progestin-only, but it has an effective rate of 98%. The patch, called Xulane, is placed once per week for three weeks with one week off. The ring, NuvaRing, is used for three weeks, then replaced after one week off. The former two are a combination of estrogen and progestin. There can be period changes, including increased cramping in the beginning, with heavier or lighter bleeding, which all typically level out over time.
There are other options that don’t involve hormones, including the diaphragm, condoms, and cervical cap, but these are not as effective as the other options. In any case, it is important to consider protection against STI infections unless you are in a committed and monogamous relationship. Let our gynecologist in Surprise, AZ review all of your choices and help you make the best decision for your healthcare needs.