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Understanding Your Birth Control Options

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Understanding Your Birth Control Options

When it comes to committing to a preferred form of birth control, some trial and error might be necessary. Here’s what you should know about the different types.

Birth control lets you decide if you want to get pregnant. But for it to be effective, you must find a form of birth control that is easy to use and proven. With certain types, inconsistency can lead to a substantial decline in their effectiveness. That’s why it’s essential to understand how your birth control works before committing to it. 

As board-certified women’s health providers, our specialists Kristine Van Kirk, MD, and Kelly Gebauer, WHNP-BC, invite you to Healthy Lifestyle Medicine in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to explore the different types of birth control and learn how to properly use them. While there’s no “best” method, our team can help you find one that aligns with your preferences with no distressing side effects.

1. The pill

One of the most widely used forms of birth control, you take the pill orally. It either contains progestin or progestin with estrogen. 

By taking the pill every day, you can stop ovulation. Ovulation happens when your ovaries release a mature egg into the fallopian tubes, which can then be fertilized by sperm. When ovulation doesn’t occur, you have a very slim chance of getting pregnant. 

Birth control pills don’t just stop ovulation to prevent pregnancy. They also thicken your cervical mucus to deter sperm from swimming into your uterus.

As long as you use the pill correctly, it has an impressive rate of effectiveness of over 99%. But you’re better off choosing another method if you’re forgetful. Many people set a daily alarm as a reminder. 

2. Intrauterine devices

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are t-shaped apparatuses that our team positions inside your uterus during a brief procedure. Like the pill, IUDs are over 99% effective. Many women prefer them over the pill because they don’t need to remind themselves to use it. Instead, the IUD remains in place for several years. You can have it removed at any time if you decide you want to get pregnant. 

There are two types of IUD:

Hormonal IUDs

Much like oral contraceptives, hormonal IUDs use progestin to thicken your cervical mucus. They also thin your uterine lining to prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg. Depending on the brand, these last for up to 5-7 years. 

Copper IUDs

Some IUDs contain no hormones and instead are wrapped in a copper wire. Copper is spermicidal, meaning it renders sperm useless. 

3. The implant

The implant, called Nexplanon®, is a tiny rod that our team inserts under the skin of your arm. It gradually releases progestin for up to five years to prevent pregnancy. It stops ovulation and thickens the mucus of your cervix. 

Like IUDs, the implant requires little maintenance, and you can go for years without thinking about it. If you decide you want to get pregnant, simply visit our team to remove it. 

4. The ring

A vaginal ring is placed inside your vagina. It’s a flexible circular device that releases progestin. Some work for five weeks while others work for up to a year. While the timing is different, it prevents pregnancy in the same way as other progestin-based birth control options. 

The ring has roughly a 91% effectiveness rate due to the risk of misuse. When used correctly and consistently, the rate is over 99%. However, you must remember to change the vaginal ring on time. 

5. Condoms

Condoms are a barrier method that physically blocks sperm from entering your uterus. While they have a lower rate of effectiveness than other options due to the risk of perforation or incorrect use, condoms are the only option for birth control that also helps stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

You can use condoms along with another method for extra protection against unwanted pregnancies and STDs. 

There is much to consider while exploring birth control options. To discuss these with a knowledgeable provider, get in touch with Healthy Lifestyle Medicine for an appointment today.