Whether you’re new to birth control or need to make a change from your current birth control methods, there are several options available. There are several factors involved in choosing the best type of birth control for your needs, from your health and lifestyle to your short- and long-term family planning goals.
What types of birth control are available to me?
Everyone’s birth control needs are different, and they tend to vary over time. There are five main types of birth control:
- Hormonal contraception
- Long term contraception (hormonal and non-hormonal)
- Single-use barrier contraception
- Permanent contraception
- Emergency contraception
The first step in choosing the right birth control method is to schedule an appointment to discuss your birth control needs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until your next well woman exam to get new birth control or change your existing plan.
Hormonal birth control
The most common type of hormonal birth control (also known as oral contraceptives) is birth control pills that you refill every month and take daily. Birth control pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, or only progestin. They prevent ovulation (the release of an egg) to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Hormonal birth control can also be administered through a shot, via an intrauterine device (IUD), or a vaginal ring. With the exception of an IUD, hormonal birth control methods are typically short-term because you can stop using them any time and can usually get pregnant shortly after you stop using them.
Birth control pills are also commonly prescribed to help regulate irregular periods.
Keep in mind that while birth control pills and IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, they don’t provide adequate protection against STDs.
If you don’t want to worry about taking a birth control pill every day and are interested in a long-term (but reversible) form of birth control, an IUD may be a good option.
They work similarly to birth control pills by using hormones to block ovulation and prevent pregnancy, but the hormones are administered from a device implanted in the uterus. The average lifespan of an IUD is three to ten years, but it varies from person to person and you can opt to have it removed at any time.
Copper IUDs are a non-hormonal option that prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg or making implantation of a fertilized egg more difficult.
Long-term hormonal birth control can also be administered through a shot, such as Depo-Provera.
Single-use barrier contraception
These include condoms, diaphragms, cervical cups, and the contraceptive sponge. Barrier contraception is also highly effective in preventing pregnancy, but it must be used correctly every time you have intercourse.
Sterilization is a permanent (irreversible) form of birth control that surgically blocks the fallopian tubes so sperm cannot fertilize an egg.
Emergency contraception is a backup plan in case your regular birth control method fails. A copper IUD or hormonal birth control pill can help prevent pregnancy when administered within three to five days after intercourse.
For more information about the different types of birth control options available, contact Memorial Women’s Specialists today to schedule an appointment at our office in Houston.