The birth control you chose as a younger woman might not be right for you today. As your life evolves and your relationships change, you may find that you need to change the type of contraception you use, too.
The right birth control for you depends on many factors, including how often you need it. At Mian OB/GYN & Associates, expert OB/GYN Dr. Rafiq Mian and our team help you decide among the many effective options available.
Here are a few questions that may narrow your choices.
Do you only need birth control occasionally?
If you’re not in a long-term relationship, you might not want to commit to long-term birth control, such as a hormonal implant or an IUD. Instead, you can choose an option that you can use “at will.”
Another advantage of the following types of contraception is that they’re easily portable:
- Diaphragm, 88% effective when used with spermicide
- Cervical cap with spermicide, 71-86% effective
- Birth control sponge, 78-86%
- Spermicide by itself, 79%
- Male (external) condom, 87%
- Female (internal) condom, 95%
No matter what type of intermittent birth control you choose, always carry condoms, too. Condoms are the only form of birth control that reduces your risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Do you need longer-term birth control?
Many forms of birth control are meant to be used for months or years at a time. Birth control pills, for instance, must be taken every day for as long as you wish to prevent pregnancy. Other long-term forms of birth control are not as high-maintenance as pills. You don’t have to worry about them until it’s time for a replacement.
- Hormonal birth control pills taken every day (99% effective)
- Hormonal shots every 3 months (96%)
- Hormonal patches changed weekly (93%)
- Vaginal ring changed monthly (93%)
Even with these methods, though, you must take care to stay on schedule. If you forget just one birth control pill, you could become pregnant. If you delay on follow-up appointments for shots or patches, again, you could become pregnant.
Do you want to “forget about it?”
If you’re certain you don’t want children for another few years, you might consider longer-term options. Once they’re in place, you really don’t have to think about them at all for years at a time.
Longer-term choices include:
Implants are 99% effective against unwanted pregnancy. At Mian OB/GYN & Associates, we carry the Nexplanon® implant. Nexplanon releases etonogestrel, which is a synthetic progestin.
Nexplanon prevents pregnancy in three ways:
- Stops release of egg from ovary
- Prevents sperm from reaching eggs
- Thins your uterine lining
We place Nexplanon under the skin of the inner side of your upper arm. You should replace it every three years for continued protection. If you want to become pregnant, we remove the implant in a simple procedure. Both insertion and removal are pain-free.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, flexible plastic “T” that your OB/GYN inserts into your uterus. The IUD releases either hormones or copper ions that interfere with how sperm function, so that they can’t fertilize an egg. In case a persistent sperm gets through, the IUDs also tend to thin the uterine lining so that a fertilized egg can’t implant itself or grow.
Paragard® is the brand name of an IUD wrapped with copper coils. Paragard is the only IUD that isn’t embedded with hormones. It can also be used as emergency contraception, if you have unprotected sex. All the other IUDs release hormones that affect your ovulatory cycle.
If they’re inserted within five days of your last intercourse, IUDs are 99% effective.They’re also extremely long-lasting and don’t have to be replaced for many years:
- Paragard copper — up to 12 years
- Mirena® — up to 8 years
- Liletta® — up to 8 years
- Kyleena® — up to 5 years
- Skyla ®— up to 3 years
Another advantage to an IUD is that your doctor can remove it when you’re ready to become pregnant.
Do you want to be sure you’ll never become pregnant?
If you and your partner have decided that you don’t want a family or have finished your family, you may consider sterilization. Other than abstinence, sterilization is the only contraception method that’s 100% effective, as long as you follow after-care instructions.
Men may want to undergo a vasectomy, in which their vas deferens tubes are cauterized. You might want to undergo a similar procedure, in which your fallopian tubes are cauterized. Some vasectomies may be reversible. However, female sterilization isn’t reversible, so be sure that it's what you want.
Determine the best contraception for you right now by scheduling a birth control consultation today. Contact us by phoning our office in Silver Spring, Maryland, or using our online form.