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Birth Control: A Plethora of Choices for Your Peace of Mind

February 18, 2015

There are a great many choices of birth control on the market. There have been great advancements in options that provide effective and easy-to-use contraception.

How do you choose what is best for you in your family planning? It’s a very personal, individualized decision. You should talk to your Oakland Macomb provider about what contraceptive method is best for your unique anatomy, lifestyle, personal and family health history, and reproductive goals.

Of course, the goal of contraception is to prevent pregnancy.  Birth control methods vary, but the objective is to prevent the sperm and egg from combining to form a zygote. This is achieved in a number of ways- mechanically (through barriers like condoms or surgical division/removal of the tubes that deliver the sperm or the egg), or by hormonal intervention (estrogen/progestin).

You will notice that the most effective birth control methods are those which require the least amount of maintenance and allow for the least amount of human error.  In order for your birth control to be optimally effective, it has to be taken exactly as prescribed. You know yourself best and know what you will use most reliably.  There is a huge variety of methods of administration ranging from pills to shots to patches to implants to devices that go in the vagina or uterus. Some methods require daily administration while others last weeks or months or even years requiring only your minimal involvement. Each has its own risks, benefits and side effects, which are discussed below.

Of course, your safety is our first priority.  All these forms of birth control have been well tested and are considered safe for most people. However, eligibility for certain types of birth control depends on your social and health history. For example, hormonal birth control can increase the risk of blood clots and heart attacks in certain individuals (those >35 years old, smokers, people with a history of cardiovascular disease, etc). This is why it is so important to discuss all the details of your personal and family history with your provider.

You will also notice that the only type of birth control that reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections is a barrier method, like condoms. The other methods we are discussing will only prevent pregnancy.

The links provided here are from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They cover benefits and risks of each type of contraception, use guidelines, and other basic information. If you have specific questions about a product, please contact your provider.

These are sorted from MOST to LEAST effective:

Permanent contraception- when no more biological children are planned.

Sterilization, female or male

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception– for prevention of pregnancy for multiple years

Intrauterine Device (IUD) and Implant

Combined Hormonal Birth Control– these include both estrogen and progestin

The Pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring

More information on the Pill

Progestin-Only Pills (the “mini pill”)

Barrier Methods of Contraception-

Condoms, the sponge, cervical cap, and diaphragm

Fertility Awareness Methods (natural family planning)

Rhythm Method, Basal body temperature, etc

Please read and consider the options and then discuss with your Oakland Macomb OBGYN provider to determine which method is best for you. Please make sure you inform your provider of health and social history, whether you smoke cigarettes and of any other medications that you are taking. The goal is to find the most effective, reliable, and safest method of birth control for you.

Each type of birth control has many available products on the market, and each is a little bit different. If you have had wonderful or less-than wonderful experience on one product, you may react very differently to another. Also, it is always important to read the product information that comes with your contraception to learn about its specifics, what to do if you miss a dose or if you have questions/concerns.

Fortunately, with changes from the healthcare reform, costs of birth control should be going down, but if you have specific questions about coverage and copays, please discuss with your provider.

As always, please contact your Oakland Macomb OBGYN with any specific questions or concerns.

To your health!

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