Written By: Kolby Wade, CNM It can be overwhelming to decide on a type of birth control. There are so many options that are used in many different ways and have potentially different effects. Birth control can be used for multiple reasons; the most obvious is avoiding pregnancy, but hormonal contraception can also be used to help manage bothersome menstrual cycle symptoms throughout a woman's entire life. Let's review the most common methods and see if they may be right for you.
First up, we have hormonal birth control options and, more specifically, short-acting methods.
Birth Control Pill:
There are two main types of pills: combined estrogen/progesterone pills and progesterone-only pills. You take each of these on a daily basis. There are hundreds of different pill combinations to choose from, but most providers have a set few they typically recommend.
Birth Control Patch:
This is an adhesive patch that is worn on your body. It lasts for 1 week at a time, so typical use would consist of a patch a week for 3 weeks, then a week off to have your period. There a two different dosage options to choose from.
Birth Control Ring:
This is a flexible ring that is inserted into your vagina. There are two types of ring currently, one that lasts for 3 weeks at a time and one that lasts for 1 year. With both rings, typical use is leaving it in for the 3 weeks and then removing it to have a period.
Next are the long-acting reversible contraceptives or LARCs. Dr. Powell previously wrote a more detailed blog on them, so refer to her blog post for more information.
Birth Control Shot:
This is an injection given via a needle in either your arm or bottom. There is only one type of shot currently, and it lasts for 3 months. People who use this method come into the clinic to receive the shot every 3 months.
Birth Control Implant:
Also known as the Nexplanon, this is a matchstick-sized flexible bar. There is only one version currently available and it lasts for 3 years. This bar is inserted just under the skin of your upper arm and stays there for the entirety of its use.
IUD stands for Intra-Uterine-Device, which is a small T-shaped piece of plastic. There are 3 different dosage options which last 3, 5, and 8 years. The IUD is inserted through your vagina into your uterus.
Lastly are the nonhormonal options, these methods won’t help with menstrual symptoms but still can be effective in avoiding pregnancy.
These consist of condoms(both male and female), diaphragms, caps, and sponges. Some of these require prescriptions like diaphragms and caps, while the rest can be bought over the counter. With most of these, it is recommended to also use spermicide to increase their effectiveness.
Also known as natural family planning, this consists of menstrual cycle tracking. The idea is to determine when you may be ovulating and avoiding intercourse during this time. This is often done using some form of app or calendar to track your cycles. Monitoring daily temperatures or assessing cervical mucous are used to increase the effectiveness of this method.
Non Hormonal IUD:
Typically referred to as the Copper IUD or by its brand name Paragard. This is another T-shaped plastic insert but instead of releasing hormones to work it uses the copper wrapped around it to prevent pregnancy. This IUD lasts for up to 10 years and has a similar insertion process to its hormonal counterparts.
The are multiple types of female sterilization procedures, but the most common would be laparoscopic salpingectomy. This is the procedure provided by our surgeons here at Evergreen and consists of the complete removal of your fallopian tubes. This is for people never wanting another pregnancy as it is permanent.
This has been a brief overview of the different contraceptive options available to you. If you have further questions or would like to receive any of these methods, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of us to discuss further.