Today, there are more options than ever before for safe, effective contraception. Birth control is a very personal choice that will depend on your age, health, and lifestyle. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming decision. Your gynecologist can explain the different options available, and work with you to find the best solution to prevent pregnancy.
Many women choose to use birth control for months or years before they become pregnant. If you wish to become pregnant in the future, your gynecologist will recommend a reversible method of birth control. Once you stop using the contraception, your fertility will return after a certain period of time, which varies with each method.
Hormonal birth control methods use the hormones estrogen and progestin, or progestin only, to keep you from becoming pregnant. Options include:
- The birth control pill. Many different types are available, including combination pills, containing both estrogen and progestin, or the “mini pill,” which contains only progestin. The combination pill may not be best for women who are over 35 or who smoke, due to potential side effects. The pill also has a lower compliance rate than other hormonal methods because you have to remember to take it every day.
- Injections. Your gynecologist can give you an injection of progestin every three months that is designed to prevent pregnancy.
- A contraceptive implant. A small, thin rod is placed under the skin of your upper arm, which releases progestin for up to three years, preventing pregnancy for a longer period of time than a patch or injection.
- The patch. This releases estrogen and progestin, similar to the combination pill. The patch is worn on your body for three weeks and then removed for one week, which will induce your menstrual period.
- Vaginal ring. The hormones in the vaginal ring work like the patch. You insert a small, flexible ring inside your vagina, which releases hormones for three weeks, followed by a week without the ring for your menstrual period.
- Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (hormonal IUD). This small T-shaped device is inserted into your uterus by your physician. It releases progestin for up to five years.
With any of these options, be sure to discuss your pregnancy plans with your physician. Let your gynecologist know if you plan to stop taking your contraception. He or she can let you know when you can expect your fertility to return. In some cases, such as the IUD and implant, your physician will need to remove the device.
Non-hormonal and barrier methods
A non-hormonal option may be a good choice for you if your physician has advised you not to take estrogen and/or progestin. These are also good choices if you have experienced unwanted side effects from hormonal methods. These options include:
- Barrier methods. Male condoms, female condoms, the sponge, thediaphragm or cervical cap, and spermicide are all devices that are designed to kill sperm or prevent it from entering the cervix. If you choose a diaphragm or cervical cap, your gynecologist will need to assist you with finding the proper fit, as they come in different sizes. The other methods can be purchased at drugstores. For prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), you must use a male or female condom, even if you are using another form of birth control. Condoms are the only proven ways to prevent AIDS and other STDs.
- The copper IUD. This is a small device that is inserted into your uterus by your gynecologist. It does not contain hormones. It can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years.
- Fertility awareness or natural family planning. A woman must take her temperature and/or look for other signs that she is fertile, and abstain on her fertile days if she does not wish to become pregnant.
CarePoint Health Gynecology Care
The expert gynecologists at CarePoint Health will discuss your birth control needs and help you find the best possible method until you are ready to become pregnant. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, pleasecontact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.