Rely on Oakwood Women’s Centre to help you understand the facts about your birth control options
From possible risks and side effects to ease of use and effectiveness, there is a lot to consider when choosing a birth control method. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and OBGYNs at Oakwood Women’s Centre can discuss these birth control options with you.
Barrier methods: One of the commonly chosen birth control options
Diaphragms, sponges, cervical caps, condoms and spermicides, considered barrier methods of birth control, prevent the sperm from traveling into a woman’s fallopian tubes and fertilizing an egg. Benefits to barrier methods of birth control include affordability and over-the-counter accessibility. They do not involve the use of hormones, and can be used while a woman is breastfeeding (at least five weeks after childbirth, when breastfeeding is well established).
Condoms (male and female) can help protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, there are also risks associated with barrier methods. For example, the sponge should not be used if you are at high risk of HIV infection. And, oil-based lubricants can increase the risk that a condom will break.
Hormonal methods include birth control pills and the birth control patch
Combined hormonal birth control uses two types of hormones – estrogen and progestin – to stop ovulation and thicken cervical mucus to prevent pregnancy. Benefits include fewer menstrual cramps and decreased acne. However, in rare cases some women experience deep vein thrombosis (DVT), heart attack and stroke.
Injections rely on the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills that contain progestin only are also available.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control implants are examples of long-acting reversible contraception. According to ACOG, LARC methods are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch or the ring.
IUDs are small devices that prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg. They are inserted into the uterus and can remain implanted anywhere from three to 10 years.
- Hormonal IUDs release progestin to stop ovulation.
- Copper IUDs contain no hormones.
Implants can remain effective for up to three years. They release the hormone progestin through a small, flexible rod that is placed under the skin in the upper arm.
Permanent birth control
If you are certain you no longer want to become pregnant, permanent birth control may be your best birth control option. Read more here about permanent birth control options.
Emergency contraception can be used if you are concerned about becoming pregnant following unprotected intercourse and missed birth control pills, condom breakage or other situations. Commonly referred to as the morning-after pill, emergency contraception does not end a pregnancy but prevents one from happening and should not be used as regular birth control. In addition to the pill form, emergency contraception is also available through the use of a copper IUD.
Natural family planning
Natural family planning relies on the timing of your menstrual cycle, cervical mucus production and basal body temperature to help you predict when you are ovulating and should avoid having intercourse. Of all of the birth control options, this is the least effective.
Using birth control is not a guarantee that you won’t become pregnant. Unless you use a condom, birth control will not protect you from contracting STDs or HIV. When evaluating your birth control options, be sure to choose one that you and your partner are comfortable with and are committed to using correctly every time you have intercourse.
If you are sexually active but do not want to become pregnant, our Round Rock OBGYNs can help you make an informed decision about birth control options. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.