Birth Control Management
Choosing a method of contraception is an important decision. There are numerous options available, each with pros and cons. Birth control methods have different variables, including frequency, convenience, permanence, and effectiveness. We review options and help determine which method is best suited to each patient’s health, previous experiences, and lifestyle.
Hormonal Birth Control
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills contain hormones to prevent pregnancy by stopping or reducing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering the uterus, and thinning the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg is less likely to attach.
A contraceptive implant (we offer Nexplanon) is a birth control option that goes in the arm. It is as effective as the pill without the daily hassle. It must be removed and replaced every 3 years. The implant is a flexible plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. There is a low, steady dose of a hormone that thickens cervical mucous, thins the lining of the uterus to discourage pregnancy, and suppresses ovulation.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small T-shaped piece of flexible plastic that is inserted into the uterus. Hormonal IUDs release a tiny amount of the hormone progestin in the body, preventing pregnancy by keeping sperm cells away from the eggs. They can also be helpful with painful or heavy periods. They last from 3 to 7 years, depending on the brand.
The Depo-Provera shot is an injection in the arm or buttocks that is given once every 3 months. It contains the hormone progestin, which suppresses ovulation and keeps the ovaries from releasing an egg.
The NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring placed inside the vagina. It prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones that prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Each NuvaRing lasts for up to 5 weeks. The user removes the old one and inserts a new one themselves.
A contraceptive patch is worn on certain parts of the body, e.g., belly, butt, or back. It releases hormones (estrogen, progestin) through the skin to prevent sperm from joining with an egg. It is not removed for bathing. A new patch should be applied every week. It can be worn every week to skip periods or used every 3 weeks if periods are desired.
Non-hormonal Birth Control
Natural Family Planning
Natural Family Planning is a non-hormonal contraception method that, if followed consistently, is up to 99% effective. It involves identifying the signs and symptoms of fertility during a menstrual cycle to avoid pregnancy. Signals include length of the menstrual cycle, daily reading of body temperature, and changes in cervical mucus secretions.
A non-hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) is T-shaped and made of copper to prevent pregnancy. The IUD is inserted through the vagina and into the uterus. Once inserted, a string 1-2 inches long protrudes from the cervix, but it is not noticeable. The string is there so the doctor can remove the IUD later, when pregnancy is desired.
Phexxi is a prescription vaginal gel that is non-hormonal. It prevents pregnancy by lowering the pH in the vagina when sperm is there, making it difficult for the sperm to move to fertilize the egg. It comes in pre-filled applicators and must be used every time sexual intercourse occurs.
Permanent Birth Control
Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure to prevent pregnancy. The fallopian tubes are cut, tied, or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy. The procedure does not affect the menstrual cycle. Most tubal ligation procedures cannot be reversed.