Many birth control methods are available today. Women who believe they may want to become pregnant in the future should consider non-permanent birth control in order to avoid pregnancy. Non-permanent birth control includes barrier methods, hormonal contraception, long-acting reversible contraception, or fertility awareness-based methods.
- With barrier methods, sperm is blocked from reaching the egg either by the use of condoms, contraceptive sponges, a cervical cap, or a diaphragm. Both the cervical cap and diaphragm are custom-fitted by your doctor, who will also provide you with instructions for its use and a timetable for replacement.
- Hormonal methods release estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) into the body, preventing ovulation. Hormonal methods may also thicken cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter it, and thin the lining of the uterus, making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach to it. Hormonal methods include oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills, the birth control patch, and vaginal birth control ring.
- Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) includes the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. Shoemaker Gynecology uses the Mirena IUD, a small device that is placed into the uterus through the cervix and releases a type of progestin which hinders ovulation, thins the uterine lining and thickens cervical mucus. The birth control implant is a small rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin in the upper arm. It works by releasing progestin into the body, preventing ovulation, and lasts for up to three years.
- Fertility awareness methods (FAM) involve understanding and recognizing when a woman is most fertile during her menstrual cycle and choosing to either avoid sexual intercourse or use a barrier method during the fertile period (FAM can also be used to encourage pregnancy). Fertility awareness methods may be an option for women who have religious concerns about contraception or prefer to avoid medications or devices.
For women who are certain they do not want to become pregnant in the future, permanent birth control options are available. These methods are extremely effective, making it difficult, if not impossible, to change your mind.
- Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure to “tie the tubes” of the woman, both preventing eggs from reaching the uterus and preventing sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs.
- Essure is a small device that looks like a spring. It is inserted into the fallopian tubes where a mesh-like substance embedded in the device irritates the lining of the tubes, causing scarring that permanently blocks the tube.
Due to women’s varied lifestyles, medical history, and personal philosophies, no one method of birth control is right for every woman. Talk to us about the benefits, costs, and risks of each before making a decision.