Contraception, also known as family planning or birth control, refers to methods used to prevent pregnancy. Many people have heard of condoms or “the pill”, but there are many options available so people can choose what works best for them and their bodies. Here is a brief overview of the most common reversible options:
· Intrauterine device (IUD): a T-shaped device that is placed in the uterus by a healthcare provider. They are very effective (>99% effective), and can stay in place up to 5-10 years depending on the type. They can either contain hormones or be hormone-free. People can have an IUD even if they have never been pregnant before, and it can be removed at any point.
· Implant: a small, thin rod that is placed just under the skin in your arm by a healthcare provider. It contains progesterone only, no estrogen. It is very effective (>99% effective), and can stay in place for up to 3 years. It can be removed at any point.
· Ring: a small, flexible ring that you insert in your vagina for 3 weeks and remove for 1 week. It contains both estrogen and progesterone. It is over 91% effective with typical use and is easily reversible.
· Shot: injected every 3 months at your provider’s office. It is progesterone only, no estrogen. It is over 94% effective with typical use.
· Pill: taken daily, can contain progesterone only or have both estrogen and progesterone. It comes in a variety of formulations, and you can work with your provider to figure out which one would work best for you and your medical history. It is over 91% effective with typical use, and is easily reversible.
· Condoms: used as needed, comes as a male or female condom. It is the only method that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and should be used with other methods to prevent transmission of STIs.
· Natural Family Planning: encompasses a variety of options that involve monitoring your menstrual cycles and symptoms associated with ovulation. This includes monitoring basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus, and other aspects of your menstrual cycle. “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler is a great resource if you are interested in this option.
For more information on these options and more, check out this CDC link: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm
Written by Avery Klepacki CNM