At your annual exam, you may want to bring up birth control with your provider. Or, if you’re not due for your annual, you may want to make a separate appointment just for this purpose.
There are several well-established birth control methods that are safe and effective. Which method to choose depends on your lifestyle, your life stage with regard to family planning, your menstrual cycle, and other considerations. Your provider will help you decide which method suits you best.
Barrier (contraceptive sponge) birth control methods include condoms and diaphragms. Condoms are available at our office and at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Diaphragms must be fitted and provided by your provider. Both barrier methods must be used each time you have intercourse.
Oral Contraceptives (the Pill)
Oral contraceptives involve a once-daily pill. Once you are in the habit of taking the pill each day, it is fairly easy to remember. The first three weeks of pills contain a combination of estrogen and progesterone, and the fourth week’s pills are inactive. The inactive pills allow your menstrual period to begin.
There are also pill cycles that vary the active-inactive pill schedule for reduced-frequency menstruation.
The birth control patch is, like the pill, a hormonal birth control method, except the hormones are delivered transdermally (through the skin). An adhesive patch is placed inconspicuously on the skin for one week at a time, replaced on the same day each week, then removed the 4th week to allow the menstrual period to begin.
The vaginal ring is placed in the vagina near the cervix and slow-releases contraceptive hormones for three weeks at a time, then removed for one week to allow the menstrual period to begin. Vaginal rings are an excellent option for women who do not want to think about birth control very often.
A matchstick-sized implant is placed into the fleshy part of the upper arm. The implant slow-releases contraceptive hormones for up to three years, and can be removed at any time the woman chooses. The implant is one of the more low-maintenance birth control methods available.
The contraceptive injection is another hormonal birth control option. It involves one injection that lasts three months, making it another low-maintenance option.
Intra-uterine Device (IUD)
The IUD is a small, t-shaped device that is placed into the uterus and lasts from 3-12 years, depending on the brand. Women can choose between a low-dose hormonal, an even lower dose (and smaller) hormonal, and a non-hormonal IUD. Although the IUD can prevent pregnancy for years at a time, the woman is free to have the IUD removed at any time and pregnancy may happen rather quickly once it is out.
– Read more about Type of IUD’s
There are positives and negatives to each method. Your provider will evaluate your lifestyle and you menstrual history to determine the best option for you.