Choosing a Birth Control Method: What You Need to Know
Most women today use some form of birth control from the time they become sexually active until they go through menopause. That is a significant portion of a women’s life. That is why it’s so important to make the best birth control choice for every stage of life.
The birth control you use in your twenties might not be the best fit in your forties. Here are the options available to you, sorted by how effective they are according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
The following birth control options are the least effective causing 12-24 pregnancies in 100 women.
Condoms – There are two types of condoms available, both male and female condoms. Among all the birth control options condoms are not among the most effective however they provide a lot of flexibility and the added benefit of protection from sexually transmitted diseases. The best Chicago OBGYN will advise the use of condoms alongside another method. This is the best prevention against STD’s.
Diaphragm – A diaphragm is a latex or silicone device that fits over the cervix during sexual intercourse. It is used in conjunction with spermicide. A diaphragm cannot be obtained without a prescription because you need to be fitted for the correct size. You will need to be re-sized after childbirth. The diaphragm provides no protection against STD transmission. The failure rate is about 12%.
Cervical Cap – A cervical cap is very similar to a diaphragm except that it has a thimble shape and fits tightly on the cervix.
Spermicide alone is not a good form of birth control since it has a 28% failure rate.
The next group of birth control options have better results for preventing pregnancy with only 6-9 pregnancies out of 100 women with typical use. However when used perfectly only 1 in 100 women will become pregnant
Birth Control Pill – When the pill is used as birth control it will need to be taken every day at the same time. Menstruation will occur when the pill cycle is complete however a placebo pill is provided to maintain the daily routine. This method uses hormones that prevent pregnancy but it provides no protection against STD’s.
Vaginal Ring – This is another hormone birth control but the benefit is that it doesn’t require you to remember a daily pill. The vaginal ring is inserted monthly and sits around the cervix. The hormones are released for 21 days. Then the ring is removed for 7 days during which menstruation occurs. Then a new ring is inserted.
Skin Patch – The patch is another form of hormone birth control. In this method the hormones are released into your body through a patch that is worn against the skin for 21 days of the month. It is removed for 7 days while menstruation occurs. This was found to have a higher release of hormone than expected so this is not used much anymore.
Injection – This last option for hormone birth control is a shot. The shot is given by your obstetrics and gynecology provider every 3 months during an office visit. The failure rate is very low with this. It usually causes lack of menses but can cause irregular bleeding also.
These four hormone birth controls allow the user the most flexibility. There is no commitment when using these methods and they can be stopped at any time. Notably, none provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
The final group of birth control options are the most effective with less than 1 pregnancy in 100 women, but they also have the biggest commitment.
Implant – The implant is actually a hormone birth control however it lasts for 3 years. This method involves your gynecologist inserting a small plastic rod under the skin in your upper arm. Once in place you can count on this method to protect against pregnancy for 3 years but it provides no STD protection. There is a fair amount of breakthrough bleeding with this, so women use this when other methods are not good for them.
IUD – There are two types of IUD’s that you will need to choose between. One is made of copper (ParaGard) and is hormone free and protects against pregnancy for up to 10 years. The other option is the Mirena which is synthetic and uses hormones to protect against pregnancy. The Mirena can be used for up to 5 years. Both versions of the IUD have the same t-shape and need to be inserted during an office visit to your Chicago OBGYN.
As you can see, even the most effective forms of birth control offer no protection against STD’s. That is why it is so important to add condoms to any of these methods if you are not in a monogamous relationship or you and your partner have not yet been tested for STD’s.
At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates we want to help you make the best decision regarding your birth control options. Our providers are here to educate you and provide any guidance you need in choosing a birth control method. If you have any additional questions about the birth control options listed here contact us today. And if you’re ready to commit, set up an appointment to discuss what type of birth control is best for you!
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as medical advice. Northwestern Women’s Health Associates shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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