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Today, there are many options as it relates to birth control.To learn more about your birth control options, schedule an appointment with Atlanta Women's Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are a form of oral contraception that generally contains two hormones, estrogen and progestin and taken daily to prevent a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs. They also help to prevent pregnancy by causing the cervical mucus to thicken. This blocks sperm from fertilizing an egg. Birth Control pills are safe, effective and convenient. For women who are very overweight, the pill may be less effective. Additionally, vomiting and/or diarrhea may keep the pill from working properly to prevent pregnancy. If a woman is concerned about this, a backup method of birth control should be used.
Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a form of long-term birth control for women. A small plastic T-shaped device is inserted into the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years depending on the type of IUD. An IUD is a highly effective form of birth control, but does not prevent against sexually transmitted infections.
Insertion and Removal of an IUD
An IUD is inserted by your obgyn in the office and will only take a few minutes. During the procedure, you may experience side effects like discomfort, cramping, or dizziness. Your obgyn may recommend an over-the-counter painkiller before the procedure or use a local anesthetic during the procedure to ease pain. The T-shaped IUD is left in the uterus, leaving 2 small strings outside the cervix for removal.
A follow up appointment may be scheduled after the procedure to be sure the IUD is still in place. Your obgyn will show you how to check that the IUD is still in the correct position and tell you how often you should check it.
Your IUD will be removed when your IUD has reached its expiration date, if you have a medical problem, or if you plan to become pregnant. It can be removed during a short procedure at your obgyn's office. Your gynecologist will gently pull on the IUDs strings to pull it through the cervix and out of the vagina.
A copper IUD prevents fertilization by making the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid containing copper that is toxic to sperm.
Paragard is the only copper IUD, and it can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. It works by interfering with sperm movement, egg fertilization, and may prevent implantation. Paragard is hormone free and can be used whether or not you have had a child.
A hormonal IUD prevents fertilization by making the mucus in the cervix thick and sticky so sperm can't get through to the uterus, as well as keeping the lining of the uterus too thin for a fertilized egg to implant.
Mirena is a hormonal IUD that prevents pregnancy for up to 5 years and can also treat heavy periods. It inhibits sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg, thins the uterine lining, and thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Mirena is recommended for women who have had at least 1 child.
Skyla is a hormonal IUD made by the same company as Mirena, but this IUD is smaller. It may be less likely to be expelled in women who have never had a baby because of its smaller size. Skyla can be used for up to 3 years to prevent pregnancy.
Kyleena is a hormonal IUD that can prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. Kyleena releases the lowest dose of hormones for the longest amount of time, compared to other IUDs. It can be used by women whether they have given birth or not.
Birth Control Patch
Used correctly, the patch is as effective as birth control pills in preventing pregnancy. It is a form of birth control that a patient wears on the skin and looks like a small bandaid. The hormones it contains (estrogen and progestin) are similar to those used in birth control pills but are absorbed transdermally through the skin. The patch works by suppressing the pituitary gland which in turn prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens cervical mucus making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. Since the patch contains a dosage which is 60% higher than that delivered by the pills, there is the risk of side effects such as blood clots. Because of this it is essential that patients using the patch not smoke. It can also be used to treat irregular periods, menstrual cramps, or endometriosis.
A vaginal ring is a form of contraception that is a soft and flexible ring that is worn in the vagina. The key benefit of the ring is that a patient does not need to take it daily to get a complete monthly protection. In a given 1-month period, the ring must be inserted into the vagina, removed after 3 weeks, and a new ring inserted no more than 7 days later. While the hormones it contains (estrogen and progestin) are similar to those used in birth control pills, unlike birth control pills, they are absorbed directly into the blood stream through the vaginal wall, delivering a consistent level of medication improving effectiveness and limiting side effects. Oral contraceptives on the other hand, differ in that they take time to be absorbed into the blood stream causing peaks and valleys in the hormone blood levels.
A diaphragm is a thin rubber dome shaped device with a springy and flexible rim. Inserted into the vagina by the patient, it fits over the cervix and is held in place by muscles in the vagina. The diaphragm is designed to hold a spermacide in place over the cervix to kill sperm. To maximize the effectiveness of the diaphragm it should be left in place for up to 6 to 8 hours. The effectiveness for birth control ranges from between 86-94%. If one chooses to use a diaphragm it must be fitted in a clinic. Additionally, weight changes, vaginal surgery and pregnancy can affect the way a diaphragm fits requiring that a medical provider check it to make sure it fits properly and to determine if a new size is needed.
Tubal Ligation is a procedure that seals off a woman’s fallopian tubes that carry an egg from the ovaries to the uterus. By blocking these tubes, where fertilization usually occurs, sperm is unable to reach the egg to fertilize it. The procedure seals the fallopian tubes with thread, bands, clips, an electric current, or small implants. Patients should be aware that the procedure provides permanent birth control and is NOT reversible.
Condoms are a barrier form of birth control that physically blocks the sperm from entering the vagina. They are the only form of protection that can help to stop the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV and prevent pregnancy. A condom is a latex or polyurethane sheath that is closed at one end and fits over a man’s penis. Condoms are also available for females. These have a flexible ring at either end. One end is closed and inserted into the vagina and the other end is open with the ring remaining outside the vagina. To help assure protection, users should read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.