Let’s talk about birth control options because honestly there are so many! One of the best ways to stay in control of your life is to take control of your body. There are so many options for birth control these days that it can feel overwhelming. Below, I’ll outline six birth control methods that safely and effectively prevent pregnancy.
All of these birth control options (except the copper IUD) contain hormones that prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation and/or thickening the mucus on your cervix, blocking out sperm. But remember, none of these birth control options prevent STIs. So you must also use a barrier birth control method such as condoms to protect yourself and your partner.
1. The Birth Control Implant
The birth control implant, or Nexplanon, is about the size of a matchstick and inserted and removed from under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor. You can get pregnant quickly after removal. It is 99% effective and lasts up to 5 years. This birth control option is a very convenient option!
2. The IUD
The IUD (intrauterine device) is a small piece of T-shaped plastic that is inserted and removed from your uterus by a doctor. You can get pregnant right after the IUD is removed, although it can take a few months before for your uterine lining to get strong enough to carry a pregnancy (if you choose a hormonal IUD). This birth control option is sometimes only recommended to women who have already given birth to a child (mostly only because the testing of IUDs has been done on women who have already given birth). Your doctor may disagree with this, so if you haven’t had a child, it’s still a great option to consider.
Five brands are FDA approved for use in the US: Paragard is wrapped in copper instead of using hormones and prevents pregnancy for up to 12 years. It is also the most (99.9%) effective form of emergency contraception and can be used within 5 days of unprotected sex. Mirena and Liletta prevent pregnancy for up to 7 years, Kyleena for up to 5 years, and Skyla for up to 3 years.
3. The Birth Control Shot
The birth control shot (aka Depo or Depo-Provera) is usually administered by a doctor or nurse. But you may be able to get a supply of shots to administer yourself at home. You must get a new shot every three months to receive the full 94% effectiveness. You’re protected right away if you get your first shot within seven days of starting your period. Otherwise, use another form of birth control the first week after getting the shot.
4. The Vaginal Ring
The vaginal ring, or NuvaRing, is inserted in the vagina at home, removed temporarily for intercourse, and replaced monthly. You should store the rings you will use within four months at room temperature away from direct sunlight, and rings you won’t use within four months in the refrigerator. Used correctly it is a 91% effective birth control option.
5. The Birth Control Patch
The transdermal contraceptive or birth control patch releases hormones through the skin on your belly, upper arm, rear-end, or back. Xulane is the only brand available in the US. It is 91% effective and must be replaced weekly.
6. The Birth Control Pill
Birth control pills come in a pack with three weeks of hormone tablets and a week of placebos to keep you on schedule and maintaining the habit. You must take one pill every day at the same time to reach the full 91% effectiveness. Other health benefits of taking the pill can include regulating irregular periods, easing period pain, clearing acne, and more.
These six options are the most popular, safe, effective, and accessible ways a woman can prevent pregnancy and take more control over her life. Most health insurance covers some or all of these options. But if you’re not covered or can’t afford the co-pay you can visit PlannedParenthood.org for more information on how to find clinics that can offer low or no-cost options.
Everyone’s medical background and history are unique so ensure you talk to your doctor about the best birth control option for you!
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