What is the most important thing to remember when choosing a birth control method? It’s that your plan should be personalized to you: accommodating your lifestyle, your schedule, and your individual needs. The world of women’s health has grown tremendously, and there are now a whole host of contraceptive options for patients to choose from - so much so that the options can be overwhelming. How can you develop your plan if you don’t have the full story?
Dr. Waltrip and the team at Genesis Women’s Health and Gynecology want to help. Here’s a list and rundown of some of the most popular birth control methods available at women’s health centers today:
Birth Control Pills
As an affordable, safe and effective method, “the pill” is one of the most common forms of birth control trusted by women today. There are many different types of birth control pills, and since they all contain estrogen hormones, they may have additional positive effects aside from contraception. The pill can help lighten your period, reduce menstrual cramps, and even curb pesky acne. The downside? The pill only works correctly if taken strictly at the same time every day, and deviating from the schedule can cause a number of birth control side effects (including failure to prevent pregnancy). If you keep odd hours or have trouble remembering, you may want to try a different option.
Another tried-and-true method is the tiny, T-shaped intrauterine device, more commonly known as the IUD. IUD insertion is simple: taking only a few minutes, your doctor will use a special tool to place the flexible plastic inside your uterus. The IUD is a long-lasting, reversible solution that requires little attention - some types are made to last up to twelve years - and IUD side effects are rarely serious. You can even choose between an IUD that releases regulatory hormones and an IUD that is made out of copper. However, some side-effects can occur up to three months after insertion, and adjustment will always require a little more effort than other contraceptives. If you’re comfortable preparing effectively with your doctor and undergoing the procedure, this may be the perfect option for you!
Birth Control Patch
Although the mode of delivery is very different, the birth control patch is actually similar to the pill - it’s a daily dose of hormones that help regulate your cycle and prevent pregnancy. The biggest difference, apart from being applied to the skin instead of taken orally, is that the patch only needs to be replaced once a week. If the effects of the pill meet your needs but taking them daily is a struggle, you may want to talk to your doctor about starting the patch.
Birth Control Shot
Unlike the pill and the patch, a birth control shot delivers hormones directly and only needs to be administered once every three months. The shot can be performed by a women’s health specialist, or, if you’re comfortable, you can ask your doctor to supply what you need to do it yourself at home. If you have easy access to a women’s health clinic and no problem with needles, this option might be right for you. Like the pill, however, the shot needs to be taken on a strict schedule to avoid side effects or an unplanned pregnancy.
If you like the “set-it-and-forget-it” concept of the IUD but its long-term nature or procedural insertion doesn’t work for you, you may want to try a vaginal ring. The ring is a small piece of plastic that you yourself place in your vagina. Once inserted, it delivers regulatory hormones similarly to the pill and the patch. The ring is replaced once a month, making it easier to remove than the IUD but less regimented than the pill or patch.
Birth Control Implant
You may have heard the brand name Nexplanon in connection to women’s health care. Nexplanon is the most common brand of birth control implant. It’s a tiny rod your doctor can insert in your upper arm to deliver the pregnancy-preventing hormone progestin. The implant is another impermanent but long-term option, lasting five years without regular maintenance.
While these are some of the most common and trusted birth control methods recommended by our women’s health specialists, additional options exist, including permanent contraceptive procedures and lifestyle practices. This list is just a starting point to begin working with your doctor to develop the perfect birth control plan for you!
If you have questions about any of these birth control methods, or you’re ready to begin developing your plan, Genesis Women’s Health is here to help! To meet with Dr. Waltrip and our team, either as a new or existing patient, please request an appointment at (724) 488-4963, or via our practice’s Patient Portal.