Women want a birth control that is effective, convenient and easy-to-use with minimal side effects. Today women have many options when it comes to preventing pregnancy.
Let’s start with birth control pills. These are still a popular option because they provide effective contraception and also other noncontraceptive benefits, including regulating your periods, improving acne, menstrual cramps and PMS and even decreasing heavy bleeding. Many pills now contain lower doses of hormones and can be taken continuously to avoid a period or decrease the number of periods.
Another popular option is Nuvaring, a vaginal contraceptive ring that contains similar hormones to a birth control pill but allows the convenience of once-a-month dosing instead of taking a pill daily. The Ortho Evra Patch is a small square that sticks to the skin and is changed once a week. It also has similar hormones to a birth control pill.
Many patients are looking for a long-term option that can last months or even years. Depo Provera is a progesterone injection that is administered every three months. It’s convenient and effective and can be used by most women.
An IUD is a small device that is inserted into the uterus by your doctor. There are currently two types available. The Mirena IUD can last up to five years and contains progesterone, which provides shorter, lighter periods. Some women do not have their period with this IUD. In addition to its use as a contraceptive, it has also been approved to treat heavy periods in women. The Paragard IUD does not contain any hormones so it is a good option for women who cannot or choose not to use hormones. It can last up to 10 years.
The Nexplanon is a small device (about the size of a matchstick) that is inserted under the skin of the inner upper arm and can last for three years. It contains progesterone and is becoming a popular choice with younger women and those who need an effective, convenient alternative to an IUD.
Finally, for women who desire a more permanent birth control, there is tubal ligation or occlusion. Essure is a method of permanent birth control that can be done in your doctor’s office or in the hospital. Small inserts are placed into the fallopian tubes that over time create a barrier to prevent pregnancy. No incisions are made so recovery time is quick. It is also hormone free. A confirmation test is performed three months after the procedure.
There are many choices in birth control available today. It is important to discuss your individual needs and health history with your doctor to determine the best option for you.
Gem Ashby, MD, and Kristen Segall, MD, are part of Women’s Care of Florida and see patients at locations in Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel and the USF area. To schedule a visit, visit www.wcf.me or call 813-929-7377.