Birth Control 101

March 6, 2019   Sexual Health

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Did you know that pregnancy prevention methods have been in practice since ancient Egyptian times? Fast forward to the 1960s, when the first birth control pill was developed in the U.S. In the decades since then, birth control options have grown exponentially — now catering to all kinds of women and lifestyles.

No matter which method of birth control you choose, it is important to understand how it works, how to use it, and what the possible side effects are.

Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC)

Do you have a crazy schedule or tend to be forgetful when it comes to taking your prescription regularly? A Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) might be for you! This is the set-it-and-forget-it option. LARC contraceptives are shown to prevent pregnancy for extended periods and do not rely on you to remember to take or use them in order for them to work properly. They not only protect against pregnancy, but have also been shown to reduce and/or eliminate period symptoms and lower your risk of uterine cancer. However, these do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Most contraceptives in this category are effective for 3-10 years. LARC devices include:

  • Intrauterine Device (IUD) — a small, T-shaped implant, either with or without low levels of hormones to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. This device is placed in the uterus by your women’s health provider and can last from 3-10 years.
  • Contraceptive Implant — a thin, small rod put under the skin of your upper arm that slowly releases hormones over time to prevent sperm from meeting up with an egg or prevent eggs from leaving your ovaries. This device is inserted by your women’s health provider and can last up to 3 years.
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Birth control pills

Birth Control Pills are hormonal pills that, when taken at the same time every day, not only help to prevent pregnancy but can also reduce many symptoms caused by hormones, like pesky acne and period irregularities. When taken as prescribed, this is a very effective form of birth control, stopping sperm from joining with an egg and also preventing ovulation. The pill does not protect against STDs, so it is always a good idea to use condoms in addition to the prescription supplied by your women’s health provider.

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Condoms

Condoms are thin pouches that collect semen and prevent sperm from getting into the vagina. In addition to being an effective form of birth control, condoms help protect both men and women from sexually transmitted diseases.

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Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera, also known as the birth control shot, is an injection given every three months to prevent pregnancy. The shot contains the progestin hormone, which stops ovulation. This form of contraceptive does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

These are just a few of the many contraceptive options available. Talk with your women’s health provider about your wants, medical history, and lifestyle to learn what type of contraceptive will be best for you.

Reminder* While emergency contraception—otherwise known as the morning-after pill—can prevent pregnancy for up to five days after unprotected sex, it should not be used as a routine form of birth control.

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A Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) might be for you! All women, even those who have never been pregnant and/or plan to delay pregnancy for 6 months or more, are encouraged to consider LARC options such as the IUD.

— Kristin Yates, D.O.

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