Choosing Your Birth Control
An essential element of family planning and for preventing unwanted pregnancy is birth control. Your gynecologist will review the available birth control methods, their pros and cons, and side effects, to help you decide which method is right for you. The most effective contraception for you will be the one you are most comfortable using and most familiar with, from prescription drugs based on hormones to devices inserted into the vagina or uterus.
- Barrier methods — condoms and spermicide, diaphragm with spermicide, and contraceptive sponge. If you choose to use a diaphragm, the doctor will measure and fit you for the right one, as size and proper fit are essential to preventing pregnancy.
- Hormonal contraception — these methods work on the endocrine system to prevent ovulation from occurring. These methods include birth control pills, which are taken every day; the vaginal contraceptive ring, which is worn for three weeks at a time with a one-week break before inserting a new one; the contraceptive patch; and hormone injections. Injections may last two or three months, depending on the substance administered.
- Long-term device insertions — these are reversible but remain in place for several years at a time and prevent implantation: the intra-uterine device, or IUD, which the doctor will place in the office (this has been shown to be effective for 5-10 years); and the Implanon three-year implant, also placed in our office.
- Permanent sterilization — such as tubal ligation (tying off your fallopian tubes), vasectomy for men (performed by a urologist). These outpatient surgical procedures are not considered reversible although this is not impossible, so they require very careful consideration. If you and your partner are considering vasectomy we can refer you to a trusted physician in the area.
- Natural/rhythm method — based on charting your menstrual cycle, and tracking your fertile days vs. those days when you are less likely to conceive. Couples may choose to abstain from sexual intercourse or use a barrier method during the fertile periods.
Confused about which type of birth control to use? We’re here to help you sort through the options and choose the contraceptive that’s right for you and your lifestyle.