So you’ve decided that you want to look into birth control, but you don’t know where to begin. There are just so many options available out there, and it’s hard to make a sure decision without knowing all of the facts. That’s where we come in! Let’s go over the most common forms of birth control, their effectiveness, and how to use them.
For many people, this is a well-known option. Male condoms are worn by men to prevent sperm from getting into a woman’s body and are often made out of latex (though there are other kinds made of other materials for those allergic!). When used properly every single time you have intercourse, condoms are about 98% effective. On top of that, male latex condoms also help prevent HIV and other STDs. There are also female condoms available, and they create a barrier that prevents sperm from getting into the body. Just like male latex condoms, they can also prevent STDs. When used correctly, they are about 95% effective. Remember, each condom can only be used once, so you’ll find yourself having to refill your supply of contraceptives quite a bit when using this option.
The pill usually contains either a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin or just progestin. It works by stopping sperm from joining with an egg by stopping ovulation. The hormones also thicken the mucus on the cervix, blocking sperm from entering so it can’t make any contact with eggs. If you choose the pill, consistency is key as forgetting pills, losing the pack, or not refilling your prescription on time may alter the effectiveness. The pill is meant to be taken every single day and is most effective when taken around the same time each day (especially progestin-only pills!) for three weeks. The pill is 99% effective when taken correctly and can also be used alongside a condom for extra protection because remember; the pill is only good against pregnancy and not STDs!
This option is often chosen by people who prefer not having to take their birth control every single day. It’s a safe and convenient option when used correctly! The patch basically looks like a bandaid that is placed on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body (anywhere except the breasts!) and releases the hormones progestin and estrogen through the skin into the bloodstream. The patch needs to be replaced once a week on the same day for 3 weeks and then can be completely removed on the fourth week where you’ll typically have your period. When used properly, the patch is 99% effective, and like the pill, can be used in conjunction with a condom.
The ring is another convenient option! The ring is placed into the vagina and releases the hormones progestin and estrogen, then should be taken out after three weeks to have your period and replaced with a new ring. When used correctly, the ring is about 99% effective. Certain medications can interact with the ring’s effectiveness, so make sure you speak with a medical professional before choosing this option. And of course, for STD protection, be sure to use a condom in addition to the ring!
The depo shot is an injection that women receive once every three months. It contains the hormone progestin, which stops you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation and making the cervical mucus thicker. The shot is received either in the buttocks or in the arm, and when received properly every twelve weeks, it’s about 99% effective. This means you have to make sure you get your shots on time, or the effectiveness will waver! Once again, this method does not prevent STDs.
The IUD is a small t-shaped device that is placed inside the uterus by a medical professional. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there. It releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. It can stay in the uterus for about three to six years, depending on the device, or even up to 10 years should you choose to use a copper one. When used correctly, the IUD is about 99% effective, which is great because this is one option where you can have it placed and pretty much forget about it until it expires! The IUD does not prevent STDs, so once again, make sure to have that condom on hand.
And finally, we have the implant — a tiny, thin rod about the size of a matchstick implanted into the arm by a medical professional. The implant releases progestin hormones into the body that prevent you from getting pregnant, and you’ll be protected for up to five years! Just like the IUD, the implant is a get-it-and-forget-it birth control method. When used correctly, the implant is about 99% effective, and once again, it’s not effective against STDs.
Those are some of the most common methods of birth control! Remember, no form of birth control is one-size-fits-all, and women choose different kinds based on convenience, effectiveness, and personal preference. Feel free to talk to a member of our team today at Folsom OB/GYN to learn more about your options, and we’ll help you find the right one for you!