For women who are having sex regularly and want to decrease their chances of becoming pregnant, contraception is a must. There are many different contraception methods that women can use, and each of these methods prevents pregnancy in a different way. Some methods of birth control have a more long-term effect than others.
We understand that this is a complicated topic, and will give you all of the information that you need to make an informed decision. Some methods of birth control are more comfortable than others, and some are more convenient. Our staff can help you find the birth control or contraception method that is right for you. We are also happy to answer questions that you may have regarding the effectiveness of your birth control.
Hormonal Birth Control – “The Pill”
The birth control pill is the most common method of contraception, and has been used since the 1960s. However, there are several other methods of birth control.
The birth control pill eliminates the potential for pregnancy by stopping the ovulation process, or the release of an egg (ovum) from the ovary. The birth control pill contains two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are also involved in the medical abortion pill. When used properly, they are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, but do not protect the woman against STDs. The birth control pill is taken daily and results in regular, 28-day, pain-free periods. There are 4 weeks of pills per pack, and during the last week, the patient has her “pill period.” Some pills are packaged so that the patient gets less frequent periods, usually every three months.
Hormonal Birth Control Other Than The Pill:
1. Nuva Ring
The vaginal ring (Nuva Ring) is a polymer ring about 2 inches wide inserted into the vagina, where is remains in place for 3 weeks. The polymer is impregnated with birth control hormones, which are released and absorbed through the vagina at a steady rate. It does not interfere with intercourse. After 3 weeks, the ring is removed and the patient has her “ring” period. The ring’s advantage is that it has to be inserted only once per month.
2. Birth Control Patch
The birth control patch, like the ring, is impregnated with birth control hormones, which are absorbed through the skin. The patch is like an adhesive Band-Aid which is applied once per week. There are three patches per box, and the patient changes them weekly. The fourth week, she doesn’t use one and has her “patch period.” Like the ring, the patch’s advantage is that it doesn’t have to be used daily.
3. Birth Control Shot (Depo Provera)
The shot is a form of hormonal contraception, but it uses only one female hormone: a synthetic progesterone called medroxy-progesterone-acetate. In long-lasting or “depo” form, the hormone is given by injection and prevents pregnancy for three months. Thus, it is administered every 12 weeks, which is also its advantage. Its disadvantage is that it can cause irregular bleeding. Many patients get no period at all, but some have unpredictable spotting or staining, especially in the first 6-12 months.
The implant is a tiny polymer rod inserted under the skin of the arm. The rod is impregnated with a synthetic progesterone-like drug that is slowly released. It provides contraception for three continuous years. This is its great advantage. Like other hormonal methods, it works by preventing ovulation. Common implant brands are Implanon and Nexplanon. After three years, the implant is removed.
The intrauterine device has a storied history. For thousands of years, Arab camel herders placed a stone into a female camel’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. It worked by acting as a foreign body that either prevented implantation of the egg or affecting the way sperm move to interfere with fertilization. This is how all IUDs work. Subsequent IUDs included metal rings or coiled loops of silk. Modern IUDs (the most popular are Mirena and Para-Gard) are T-shaped pieces of plastic inserted into the uterus. Although IUDs can be removed at any time, they can last between 5-12 years if not disturbed. The Mirena’s plastic is impregnated with synthetic progesterone and may help lessen heavy periods.
6. Spermicides and The Sponge
A spermicide is a chemical that immobilizes or kills sperm. Spermicides are available in different forms, including gels, creams, foams, films, and suppositories. The sponge, which can act as a barrier, mainly works by containing a spermicide. Used alone, spermicides are around 75% effective. Used with a condom, the effectiveness is 97%.
Barrier Birth Control
A barrier, usually latex or a polymer, keeps sperm from meeting the egg. The most popular barrier is the male condom. It is important to put on the condom prior to insertion and, after withdraw, to check for leaks. Used alone, condoms are 90-95% effective. They also help prevent STDs spread through intercourse. The female condom is a pouch inserted into the vagina before intercourse. It also helps prevent STDs and is 95% effective.
1. Female Diaphragm
The female diaphragm is a round, flexible rubber or latex barrier inserted before sex that blocks the cervix. It is used with a contraceptive lubricant. It can be inserted any time before intercourse but must stay in six hours after the last sex act. It is not as effective as condoms in preventing STDs.
2. Cervical Cap
The cervical cap is a silicone cup like a mini-diaphragm. With similar advantages as the diaphragm, it is around 80% effective. It is soft, flexible, and fits over the cervix in order to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Using the cervical cap removes the hormonal effects of the pill, implant, patch, or shot.
Essure – Permanent Birth Control
In addition to assessing recommending monthly and long-term birth control solutions, we also perform permanent birth control procedures. Commonly referred to as Essure, permanent birth control is ideal for those who are absolutely certain that they no longer intend to have children. However, because it is permanent, we recommend that patients weigh this hefty decision accordingly.
During the Essure procedure, small plugs are inserted into the fallopian tube, blocking them. These plugs gradually encourage the growth of scar tissue, which forms a barrier over the fallopian tubes. This procedure is generally performed in under an hour, and is minimally invasive.
Due to the permanent nature of Essure, we recommend that patients stay in contact with physicians after the procedure to ensure that it is still effective.