05 Nov What Is the Best Birth Control for Me? An OB-GYN’s Guide
Have you been breaking out in spots since you began taking the pill? Or maybe you’re worried about the effectiveness of an IUD.
Gone are the days where a piece of sheep’s wool dunked in oil was believed to plug the cervix and protect a woman from pregnancy.
Modern medicine, hordes of information, and increased dialogues about sex among young women have left us with an abundance of birth control options.
It’s also left many women scratching their heads and asking, “But what is the best birth control for me?”
This article covers the most popular and effective (over 85%) birth control methods as advised by OB-GYNS.
The Birth Control Pill
There are two types of birth control pills: combination pills that contain both estrogen and progestin and the mini pill that contains only progestin.
Combination birth control pills are popular, especially for young women, as there is a variety to choose from and it’s easily prescribed by a doctor.
These pills are beneficial for a number of reasons. They’re easy to use and are often used to help clear up acne or painful period cramps. It’s also an easily reversible birth control method.
The downside of pills is that they need to be taken around the same time (within 3 hours) every day. For forgetful people, this can prove to be a big disadvantage as missing a pill greatly reduces the protection from pregnancy.
While birth control pills are generally safe for most people, women who are sensitive to hormones may find that they need to try low-dosage pills or another method completely.
Some side effects include weight gain and acne breakouts. And the risk of deep vein thrombosis, heart attacks, and strokes increases for women over 35 or smokers.
Speak to your doctor about choosing the right birth control pill based on your medical history or any underlying medical conditions.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
IUD’s have become increasingly popular as myths surrounding their safety have been dispelled. An IUD is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus. You can choose between using an IUD that releases a low dosage of progestin or a hormone-free copper IUD. The copper contains chemicals that stop sperm from traveling to the egg.
An IUD can last anywhere from three to twelve years and is a low maintenance method of birth control. It is also an instantly reversible method and women can get pregnant as soon as the IUD is removed.
ParaGard, the copper IUD, is the best birth control for women who are very sensitive to hormones as it is hormone-free. Depending on the size of a women’s cervix, it can last for up to 10 years.
The greatest downside to this IUD is the side effect of heavier and longer periods. This can be a deal-breaker for women who already suffer from prolonged menstruation.
Mirena and Skyla are brands of the hormone IUD that releases small doses of progesterone. These last up to five years. Skyla is a very small device and is preferred by women who feel uncomfortable with larger IUDs.
Inserting the IUD is a very quick procedure However, you may experience a short sharp pain and a bit of cramping afterward.
Many women feel discombobulated after the procedure with the knowledge of a foreign object inserted into their womb. This feeling usually takes a few weeks to pass.
IUDs are suitable for teenagers, adults, and mothers, and they have become a hassle-free option. There is a slight chance of the body rejecting the IUD, which means it needs to be inserted again.
With this method, a doctor will insert a thin progestin-releasing rod into your arm. Along with an IUD, implants are considered to be the best birth control for women over 40. Progestin works by blocking the egg from leaving the ovary, making pregnancy impossible.
This is an extremely effective method (99.9%) that lasts up to 4 years. However, it is recommended that the implant is replaced after 3 years to ensure effectiveness.
Similar to the IUD, an implant does not require maintenance, and the low-dose hormone results in few hormone imbalances.
Unpredictable menstrual flow is the most notable side-effect. Some women experience their periods stopping completely, while others experience prolonged or frequent menstruation.
A Skin Patch
This is a thin piece of material that looks and works similar to a bandaid. You can place it on the skin and leave it for up to one week. You need to change the patch every 7 days for 21 days, allowing a patch-free 7 days for menstruation to take place. It is relatively convenient and low-maintenance.
The patch releases the combined hormones of estrogen and progestin. For this reason, it may be an unsuitable birth control option for women sensitive to hormones.
Effectiveness is reduced and side effects exacerbated in women who are above 35 years old, smoke, or are overweight.
There are relatively few side effects but display similar effects to that of the pill (e.g., spotting, weight gain, and mood swings).
A diaphragm is a shallow, flexible cup that you can insert into the vagina to prevent pregnancy. It works by covering the cervix and effectively blocking the interaction between the ova and sperm. It works best when used with a spermicide gel.
While this can be a very effective birth control method, it depends on perfect usage. This can be tricky to get right every time and definitely takes time to master.
This method of birth control requires hands-on work every time you have sex. While it is the least invasive option, with no hormones, it is only slightly more effective than the male condom.
Vaginal Ring (Nuva Ring)
A flexible and malleable ring is inserted into the vagina in a painless procedure. It requires very little attention and lasts for 21 days. After 21 days, you need to remove the ring, allow for a 7-day menstrual period, and re-insert a new ring.
This option comes with all the benefits of the pill, without having to remember to take anything. It also offers a lower dose of hormones, which means that there are fewer side-effects than with the pill or higher hormone options.
Choosing the Best Birth Control for Me
Nowadays, we are blessed with myriad birth control options. Regardless of your individual needs, there is a birth control method for you. It’s important to understand your body and needs when choosing a birth control.
If you’re still asking, “What is the best birth control for me?”, schedule an appointment with 67th Street OBYGN today.