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Choosing a Birth Control Method: What You Need to Know

Dr. Stanley Friedell, Northwestern Women's Health Associates S.C Providing Birth Control Method

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.

Essure Sterilization – For those that are done having children or do not wish to every have any sterilization is a good solution. At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates we offer a sterilization method called Essure. The Essure procedure involves a visit to your Chicago OBGYN’s office where two inserts are placed in the fallopian tubes. The inserts are put in vaginally which means there is no surgery involved. This cuts down on the recovery time. The female will continue to produce eggs after the Essure procedure however they will not be able to pass through the fallopian tubes so they will be reabsorbed into the body. Essure provides excellent protection against pregnancy but it should only be used by women who are absolutely certain they do not wish to have children in the future.

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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  • Northwestern Women's Health Associates
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    Dr. Regina Belmonte has been providing all the services I have needed for over 12 years. She saw me through both of my pregnancies and her expertise is vast. Even after I moved far away from the city, I still embrace and look forward to her care and services, and I refuse to switch doctors. She is worth the trip! Going through both pregnancies I had to meet with all of the Dr's. and all were wonderful. The nurses are fantastic. I have gotten 98% of what I have ever needed just talking to a nurse. So grateful for this practice and so confident with the care I receive.
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Jelly T.

    Dr. Abbie Roth is GOLD!
    I have never met a doctor who is caring and brilliant and with a great sense of humor as doctor Abbie Roth. She is very professional and has an excellent bedside manner. When I had a life threatening complication after my C-section, she and her Prentice team of doctors and nurses were such an efficient team under pressure while making sure they explain every process and steps during the situation. Dr. Abbie Roth and her team literally saved my life! I am very fortunate to have met Dr. Roth, I will never forget her and will continue to see her for my future OB/Gyne health. I highly recommend this practice and Dr. Roth!
  • Northwestern Women's Health Associates
    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Jessica

    If you are new to Chicago or are just looking for a new physician, please make an appointment with Dr. Friedell. This is the first time in my adult life, that a doctor spent an hour with me going over my medical history, asking questions and documenting my history accurately. His assessment and subsequent surgery were all done t a T! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him or his staff. I have had very positive experiences every time I've gone and I always leave feeling like I've been really seen and heard.
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Monica E.

    I was recommended to NWWH through a friend after a year of unsuccessful IUI with my partner. We were seen and cared for by Dr. Friedell. Best decision ever. You will definitely wait for the doctor for maybe 30 minutes past your appointment time but you will not regret it. His thoroughness and patience to explain everything to us in a way we understood was amazing. He was quick to start a game plan for us. We will definitely stick with Dr. Friedell as our OB/GYN.

    Apart from Dr. Friedell, the staff was quick to perform any lab work and ultrasounds with friendly conversation and compassion. This type of service really helps when we've gone through a rough time trying to get pregnant. Definitely make an appointment with Dr. Friedell.
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Jennifer H.

    I have been going to Dr. Friedell for over a year now and he has been nothing less than amazing. When I first came to him to discuss pregnancy, he was incredibly informative and understanding. He was also willing to take the time to answer all of my questions and help in any way he could. He just delivered my son in March and to say he went the extra mile during delivery would be an understatement. I had some complications and with any other doctor I would have had a c-section. Dr. Friedell worked with me and was extremely patient and because of his care and expertise I had a successful vaginal delivery. I cannot recommend him highly enough!
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Karima R.

    I have been going to this office for little over a month now due to some complications! I have been seen Dr. Friedell, he is very caring and always made sure he answers all my concerns. I am beyond impressed with my experience with Dr Friedell and his PA " Amber". Dr Friedell called me many times after hours to talk to me about my medical results and answers any concerns that I have.

    I would highly recommend Dr Friedell.
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Elizabeth T.

    I have been a patient of this practice for over 5 years now and have only positive reviews of Dr. Feldstein. He was the doctor on call and delivered my third son without any complications. He was knowledgeable, patient focused and went above and beyond to answer my questions and provide a safe and healthy delivery. I also want to note his positive bedside manner to not only my husband and I, but to the nursing staff that was working with him. He was very respectful and I am very thankful to have had him for my delivery. I would recommend this group, Dr. Feldstein in particular without reservation.
  • Northwestern Women's Health Associates
    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By LA

    I switched to Dr. Roth mid pregnancy due to health insurance reasons and it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life. She is definitely warm and funny but also extremely competent and knowledgeable. I would say what makes her stand out from other doctors is how calm and not reactive she is in even the most dire situations. My son was in serious fetal distress (unexpected and not preventable) and she was very calm and reassuring as we literally ran to the OR for my c section. With the rise of c sections today I feel Dr. Roth is one of the few remaining fabulous ob's that truly plans for normal vaginal births (your choice if you want an epi or not) and although I needed a c section I knew it was truly necessary. I could not speak more highly of her, not only did she save my sons life but she made me feel safe, secure and empowered even when decisions and actions were out of my hands.
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Dana M.

    I love Dr. Belmonte. I have been going to her since 2006! She rocks!!! She is straight to the point, I love that about her. When I leave her office after seeing her I always feel great, like a just left a good friends house or something!
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    5 Dr. Stanley Friedell, 5 Star Review By Barbara A

    I can not tell you how wonderful my experiences have been. Dr. Sharon Wise is my doctor and she is fantastic. She is straightforward and honest about treatments and procedures. I enjoy her sense of humor, and I found her bedside manner when delivering my son to be excellent.