Birth Control is not the same as Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention. Condoms are the ONLY form of birth control that offer a measure of protection from STI. They are also the only birth control option for men. (For more information about STI prevention and testing, visit our Sexual Health page.)
Here is an overview of birth control options for ladies, including patches, rings, shots, pills, IUD’s and implants. Call the office today to schedule an appointment to discuss which birth control method is right for you - including the side effects and risks of each one.
The Birth Control Pill is one of the most familiar forms of birth control. There are so many types of BCP’s; I could spend the entire article talking about it. So let’s cover the basics. The BCP is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when it is taken correctly. Taken correctly means, every day, at the same time every day. 8% of women who take BCP will have an unintended pregnancy due to user error; for instance, forgetting to take it! When you start your BCP on the first day of your menses you are protected immediately from pregnancy. When you do the Sunday Start you are not protected until day 7. (Ever wonder why the Sunday start? So you don’t get your period on the weekend.) I recommended my patients start on first day of menses for good cycle control and faster protection.
Check with android or iPhone apps for BCP reminder applications. The "My Pill "app, will send you reminders, track your period, tell you when you are due for a refill, and take notes on symptoms that you can take with you to ask your healthcare provider about.
The Nuvaring is a small plastic ring that contains hormones that prevent pregnancy. The Nuvaring is placed inside the vagina and stays inside for 3 weeks, and then it is removed and thrown away. A new Nuvaring is inserted one week later. So, 3 weeks in, 1 week out. There is no right or wrong way to put the Nuvaring it, you just push it back until you can’t feel it. The Nuvaring will prevent pregnancy after the first week of use and you are still protected during your ring free week, this is typically when you get your period.
The patch is a small square that is applied to the skin like a band aide. It contains hormones to prevent pregnancy. The patch is worn for seven days, and then removed and a new one placed. This is done for 3 weeks, with one week without the patch. The patch is effective in pregnancy prevention immediately when it is placed on the first day of the menses. If it is a Sunday start you are protected after 7 days.
The Depo Provera shot is an injection that contains hormones that prevent pregnancy. This injection is given every three months. If you start Depo Provera on days one through five of your menses, you are protected from pregnancy after 24 hours.
Nexplanon is a small flexible plastic rod. It is placed in either arm under the skin just below the bicep muscle. Don’t worry; the area will be numb before placement. The Nexplanon is effective for three years, and will prevent pregnancy immediately if placed on days 1-5 of menstrual cycle.
The Paragard intra uterine device (IUD) is placed in the uterine cavity through the opening in the cervix. It is a copper device that does not contain hormones. It is effective pregnancy prevention for 10 years. It will prevent pregnancy immediately after placement.
The Mirena IUD is similar to the Paragard IUD in placement. It does contain hormones and can be used for five years. If placed during your period it will prevent pregnancy after 7 days.
Emergency contraception (EC) is a pill that is taken within 3 days of unprotected sex. Women and Men over the age of 17 (you need proof of age) can purchase EC from the pharmacist without a prescription; You do have to ask for it. Ask for Plan B. The cost is around $50.00. If you are under 17 and need EC you can get a prescription from your health care provider. You need EC if the condom falls off; there is no three second rule here!
Other birth control options include diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge, spermicide, and female or male sterilization.
When you are READY to get pregnant: Birth control does not affect your ability to get pregnant in the future unless you choose Depo Provera. There is sometimes a delay in getting pregnant after the use of the shot.
More info about birth control methods:
Natural family planning:
Common questions that are asked about birth control and how it prevents pregnancy:
When does pregnancy begin?
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Institutes of Health, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg implants in the womb. Until it affixes to the woman’s womb a fertilized egg can not receive nutrients from the woman’s body, which is essential for it to grow. Implantation is also the only way in which a pregnancy can be determined, there is no test that can tell when an egg has been fertilized.
Can contraception prevent implantation?
The simple answer is no.
Implantation is what sets in motion all the signs that pregnancy has begun. This is after the sperm and egg meet, and then travel down to the womb (uterus) to "implant".
How do hormonal birth control methods work?
(Birth control pills, Nexplanon, Nuvaring, the shot, and IUD)
What hormonal contraception's do is prevent ovulation. In other words, take the pill as prescribed and a woman won't release an egg. No egg, no chance of pregnancy. The secondary way these contraceptives function, is by preventing fertilization. On the very slim chance that a woman using a hormonal method does produce an egg another mechanism of action kicks in. Hormonal contraceptives also thicken the mucus lining of women’s reproductive organs which hamper the ability of the sperm to even get to the egg. And if a rogue sperm reaches the egg, hormonal contraceptives prevent it from penetrating the egg. Specifically, they stop the shell encasing the egg from disintegrating, so a sperm can’t actually complete the process of fertilization.
What if I am using birth control and I get pregnant?
Birth control doesn’t have any effect on the egg once fertilized. The birth control pill is only effective if you take it, so if you miss pills or take an antibiotic you increase your chances of pregnancy. When you find out you are pregnant stop all birth control methods and talk to your provider about medications you have been taking including birth control. Most women that get pregnant while taking the pill have no adverse outcomes on their pregnancy, birth, or child.
Does breastfeeding prevent pregnancy?
Most studies show that if you are exclusively breastfeeding - no supplements and you are feeding on demand you are protected for about four months. The reliability of this is only about 76%. Scientists have not figured out how breast feeding works as a means of birth control, however, it is believed that it is the exact way hormonal methods mentioned above do.