Birth Control: What Are the Options?
Thankfully, modern times mean a plethora of birth control options. Because our bodies are all different, finding the right birth control for you may take some trial and error, but there are some solutions more suited to some women than others. Here are a few of those options.
There are two forms of implants on the market today: Rods and IUDs. Each are inserted into the body and left for a few years. Rods, which are implanted just below the skin of the upper arm, are matchstick-sized and flexible. They prevent sperm from joining the egg but do not always keep the ovaries from releasing eggs. IUDs are “T” shaped devices inserted into the uterus. Non-hormonal IUDs are wrapped in malleable copper wire that works as a natural spermicide. Hormonal IUDs release hormones locally into a women’s uterus over time, preventing pregnancy.
Hormonal options interfere with ovulation by preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs. Additionally, they change the composition of uterine lining and cervical mucus to prevent sperm from joining the egg. There are four primary methods:
- Oral contraceptives. These are pills that a woman takes at the same time every day.
- The patch. This is a patch worn on the outer arm, lower abdomen, or buttocks. It is placed for three weeks and then removed for the fourth week each month.
- Injections. These are administered every three months. Doctors recommend only using this method for up to two years consecutively.
- Vaginal ring. This ring is a flexible, thin device which is inserted into the vagina. It is worn for three weeks out of the month and removed for the fourth.
Barrier options create a barrier between the sperm and egg. There are four primary forms:
- Contraceptive sponge. This is a soft, disk-shaped device that contains spermicide. Inserted prior to intercourse. It must be left in for six hours afterwards and must be removed within 30 hours of insertion.
- Diaphragms. A diaphragm must be fitted for you by your doctor to ensure it is the right size. It is a shallow latex cup inserted into the vagina before intercourse. It must be left in for 6-8 hours after sex. It should be removed within 24 hours and cleaned.
- Female condoms. These are made of thin manmade rubber and are single use. Women insert the condom into the vagina prior to intercourse. It should be removed immediately after sex.
- Male condoms. Perhaps the most well-known barrier method are male condoms that cover the penis and therefore block sperm. Like female condoms, they should be discarded after sex.
Once you decide on a regular birth control option that seems right for you, contact your OBGYN for more details.