Contraception Choices

Many women and couples today want to have a say-so when it comes to becoming pregnant. Birth control methods have been available for many, many years for women who want to plan their pregnancies, or for those who want to plan not to become pregnant. Contraception is another word for birth control, and there are several options available.

There are hormonal and non-hormonal methods of contraception available for women. A gynecologist will be able to help a patient decide which type of birth control is better for her and will discuss the risks and uses of each.

Hormonal methods include birth control pills, skin patches, a vaginal ring, and a hormonal IUD that release a steady amount of hormone into the body. Birth control that uses hormones as a means of preventing pregnancy is the most effective.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are inserted into the uterus and are very effective. There are hormonal and copper IUDs available, and both are considered safe.

Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, and sponges. While these methods can be effective in preventing pregnancy, there is a high user-error percentage that must be taken into account. Meaning, the effectiveness of a barrier method is completely dependent on how it is placed by a person.

Natural family planning can work if both partners are very careful. Good records of the menstrual cycle will need to be kept in order to determine the days when a woman is fertile. During these fertile times, sex must be avoided or a barrier method must be used. While this contraception method can be effective, it is very dependent upon careful planning and meticulous calculation.

Permanent birth control (sterilization) gives lasting protection against becoming pregnant. A woman can have her tubes tied with a tubal ligation, or a man can have a vasectomy. This method is not generally done for women who are young or who have yet to have any children as this method is permanent and cannot be undone.

Meeting with a gynecologist for counseling is a woman’s best option in determining what method of contraception is right for her.

Posted on behalf of Carlos Alarcon, M.D., Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.

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