Birth Control: Many Options in Today’s Landscape

177614807Women have more choices than ever before when it comes to birth control: the Pill, the patch, IUDs. Technology and modern medicine continue to revolutionize the contraceptive landscape. A recent article in Time even shared developments on what could be the first microchip birth control.

So, with so many options, how do you decide which is best for you? The short answer is “…that’s a discussion you need to have with your doctor”. Your health, family planning goals, even medical history, all comes into account when finding the right birth control for you.

If you’re not even sure where to get started, here’s a quick primer that’s taken recent developments into consideration:

Oral Contraceptives

Even the Pill has changed drastically over the last decade. Now, women can choose from conventional, continuous or low-dose pills.

  • Conventional pills offer 21 or 24 active pills taken to block ovulation and seven or four inactive pills that contain no hormones. Bleeding will occur when the inactive pills are taken.
  • Continuous or extended cycle usually have 84 active pills and seven inactive pills. Bleeding generally occurs only four times a year.

The dosing of pills can even vary brand to brand. Some pills have the same amounts of hormones; others fluctuate week by week based on your cycle. Recent developments have even delivered low-dose birth control pills for women sensitive side effects from hormones such as weight gain, headaches or irritability.

The most common complaint, or shortfall, of the Pill is that women must remember to take the Pill every single day. This is something that is very easy to forget with a hectic schedule.

Birth Control Patch

The patch makes it a little easier to remember: woman who wear a patch need to replace it once a week, rather than once a day. The patch resembles a square Band-Aid and releases estrogen and progestin slowly into the body to block ovulation.  Women typically wear the patch three weeks a month. Bleeding will occur during the “off” week.

Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

Slowly gaining traction among women are intrauterine devices (IUDs) that are inserted directly into the uterus through the cervix. Some IUDs release hormones to prevent pregnancy and heavy periods. Others are hormone free.

A long-lasting form of birth control, IUDs can be worn for anywhere from 3-12 years and are generally considered the most effective form of birth control among the medical community. Recently, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended IUDs and other long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) as first line contraceptive choices for adolescents. Read the AAP’s statement on IUDs, and learn more about IUDs on my previous blog post.

We at James A. Simon, MD, PC are conducting an exciting research trial for women requiring contraception. We are studying a very promising new contraceptive patch. If you or someone you know might be interested in participating in the study, call the office (202-293-1000) and ask for details.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

Contributed by

James A. Simon

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