Whether you call it birth control or contraception, preventing pregnancy before you’re ready to be a parent is important. At Advanced Women’s Healthcare, our experts can discuss all of the various methods of birth control with you and help you make a decision that works for your body and your life. This post should help you begin thinking about what you want from your contraception.
Not all forms of contraception protect you from STDs
If you’re sexually active and have more than one partner, you need to consider protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as from becoming pregnant. Not all forms of contraception offer that protection.
Condoms designed to be worn by men are the best protection against STDs, but are only about 82% effective in preventing pregnancy. You may want to consider combining the use of condoms with another form of contraception in order to be protected against both STDs and pregnancy.
Condoms designed to be worn by females are inexpensive, available in most pharmacies without a prescription, and can be inserted up to eight hours before having intercourse. They are only about 79% effective in preventing pregnancy and may prevent some STDs.
Diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps
These three contraceptive methods are also available without a prescription and, like condoms, use the barrier method -- that is, they work by preventing sperm from reaching an egg to fertilize it. They are much more effective when used in combination with condoms.
Long-lasting, reversible birth control
Barrier methods of contraception require you to think about them each time you have sex, and though they have some definite benefits, like being available over-the-counter, being easy-to-use, and in some instances offering protection against STDs -- they can also be a hassle. If you’re looking for birth control that will last a long time but won’t require effort each time you have intercourse, you have a few options.
You may prefer an intrauterine device, or an IUD. There are two kinds, one that releases a hormone into your uterus, and a hormone-free, copper device.
Hormonal IUDs last from three to five years, and often reduce bleeding for women who have heavy periods. Non-hormonal IUDs are effective for as long as 10 years.
In the US, you can have Nexplanon, a rod about the size of a matchstick, implanted in your upper arm. This form of contraceptive is effective for roughly three years.
Another type of contraceptive is the Depo-Provera shot, which lasts for three months. You’ll need to come to our office on a fairly precise schedule as getting the shot outside of an 11- to 13-week window makes it less effective.
Hormonal methods for the short term
Some types of contraceptives use a combined dosage of the hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg each month. The most well-known is the pill, but you can also get a patch or a vaginal ring.
If you know that you don’t ever want to become pregnant, permanent sterilization may be an option. Men can have a surgical procedure called a vasectomy, and for women there’s a procedure called tubal ligation. Additionally, an implant called the Essure® System can block the Fallopian tubes and provide permanent birth control.
Choosing a contraceptive is a highly personal decision and one that involves deep consideration of your lifestyle and medical history. We’re happy to answer your questions and help guide you in making the best choice for you.
Schedule an appointment at Advanced Women’s Healthcare by calling 309-808-3068 and begin investigating your birth control options.