Raising a child is a huge responsibility. Unless you’re prepared physically, emotionally, and financially to care for a new family member, you definitely need to use contraception to reduce your risk of getting pregnant “by accident.”
Today, there are several birth control options to help prevent conception, and about two-thirds of sexually active American women are using some form of contraception to avoid getting pregnant. At his practice in Newburgh, Indiana, which serves the Evansville area, Paul W. Morrison, M.D., offers an array of contraceptive options and helps women make informed decisions about them.
If you’re considering birth control or you’re thinking about changing your current method, this quick review will help you understand your options.
Pills are probably the most well-known type of contraceptive. They revolutionized birth control when they were first introduced more than 50 years ago. The upside is they have a long history of safe, effective use, and for many women, they drastically reduce menstrual flow or period duration (or both). The downside is you have to remember to take a pill every day, ideally at roughly the same time. Birth control pills are about 91% effective with typical use.
The birth control patch is a thin, flesh-colored, adhesive “sticker” you wear on your skin, and you change it weekly. The patch secretes hormones that are absorbed through your skin. Patches are about 91% effective with typical use.
Arm implants are tiny, slim rods that are inserted under the skin on your arm. Over time, they release a steady stream of hormones to prevent conception. The implant is inserted during a simple in-office procedure, and once it’s inserted, it remains effective for 3-5 years. You can’t see the implant under your skin, but if you press gently, you can usually feel it. Implants are more than 99% effective.
Birth control injections administer precise doses of hormones that prevent ovulation and thicken the mucus in your cervix, making it harder for sperm to pass through.
Most shots need to be given every three months or so, and if you decide you want to become pregnant in the future, you need to stop having shots for about 10 months prior to trying to conceive. Birth control injections are about 94% effective with typical use.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are the only contraceptives on this list that have a nonhormonal option, making this a good potential choice for women who want safe, effective, reliable birth control without relying on synthetic estrogen or progesterone. They’ve also been around for about as long as birth control pills, so you can feel confident about their use and effectiveness.
Copper IUDs create a toxic environment for sperm without harming the uterus or other structures. They also create a thick barrier of mucus at the cervix, preventing sperm from entering. Hormone IUDs do the same thing, but they add a dose of synthetic progesterone (progestin) for added contraceptive effects.
Many women like IUDs because they don’t require interaction beyond an office appointment to swap out the IUD every 3-12 years. They’re also more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
The options listed so far are all reversible if you decide to have a baby in the future. However, if you're absolutely sure you don’t want to start a family or add to an existing one, you might want to consider sterilization.
This minimally invasive procedure either removes your fallopian tubes (the channels that allow eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus) or closes them off with clips or other techniques (called tubal ligation). While there’s a chance that some types of sterilization can be reversed, you should always consider this a permanent type of birth control.
Birth control methods only work when you use them the way they’re supposed to be used. If you don’t like the method you’re currently using, let us help you find an option that suits your needs, your lifestyle, and your life goals.
To learn more about your birth control options or to update your current method, call 812-490-5200 or book an appointment online with the practice of Paul W. Morrison, M.D., today.