Contraception Choices Abound

Medicine has made major strides in contraception, giving women multiple options.

The method you choose will depend on your health, your desire to protect yourself from STI’s and your personal beliefs and preferences.

Whichever you choose, birth control needs to be used consistently and correctly to work effectively.

Abstinence is the only 100% effective method of birth control.

Barrier Methods
Barrier methods prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from getting into the uterus.

Condoms are inexpensive, widely available and offer the most protection against STIs.

A diaphragm or a cervical cap requires a woman to visit a physician to be fitted, and it increases risk of urinary tract infections.

 Hormonal Methods
Hormonal methods of birth control prevent pregnancy mainly by stopping ovulation (the release of an egg by the ovaries).

The Pill is an oral contraceptive. Women may have 1 period every 4 weeks or one every 3 months.

The contraceptive patch is a thin, flexible patch placed on the upper arm, buttocks, stomach or chest (not breast).

The patch is put on once a week for 3 weeks. On the 4th week, your period starts.

The vaginal contraceptive ring is a thin, circular, flexible ring inserted for three weeks of the month.

The hormone shot is an injection performed by your doctor. One shot prevents pregnancy for 3 months.

The hormone implant is a thin, flexible piece of plastic about the size of a matchstick inserted by a doctor under the skin of the upper arm. One implant prevents pregnancy for up to 3 years.

An Intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped device put in a woman’s uterus by her doctor. Two kinds of IUDs are available.

Today IUDs last 5-12 years and are safer than in the past, but they still have some risks.

Some hormonal methods may reduce cramping and shorten the number of days of bleeding during the menstrual period.

These methods may stop your period indefinitely. They may also curtail premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Common side effects of hormonal methods are nausea, headaches, acne, increased blood pressure, breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain and depression.

Women should not smoke because it increases the risk of serious side effects, such as blood clots.

If you’re sure that you don’t want to have children, or have more children, a surgical sterilization operation will permanently prevent pregnancy.