Let’s Talk About Birth Control: What are Your Options?

February 10, 2023
Let’s Talk About Birth Control: What are Your Options?


  1. Introduction
  2. Birth Control Implant
  3. IUD (Intrauterine Device)
  4. Birth Control Shot
  5. Vaginal Ring
  6. Birth Control Patch
  7. Birth Control Pill
  8. Condoms



February celebrates love since we have a special celebration: Valentine’s Day! While we love to see love all around, it is also a reminder to stay safe. In this blog, we will discuss several types of effective birth control options that are available. Remember, the best option for you can be different from others and the best way to choose the right option is by talking to your healthcare provider first.


1. Birth Control Implant

 General Facts
The birth control implant is a small rod, about the size of a matchstick, that is inserted into your body. You might also recognize it as Nexplanon, a brand that is approved in the United States. The implant is a hormonal type of birth control that releases progestin into your body. Progestin is one of the hormones that helps stop ovulation, makes your cervical mucus thicker, and prevents unwanted pregnancies. The implant is one of the best types of birth control because it is 99% effective and has minimal maintenance. The insert lasts up to 5 years, but it can be removed before that if you change your mind and decide that you want to have a pregnancy. As soon as the rod is removed by a doctor, you can get pregnant.

The procedure is quick. Your doctor, gynecologist, or healthcare provider can insert the implant. They usually give you one shot on your upper arm to numb the area. Then, they use a special inserter tool to put in the implant. Overall, this procedure should only take a few minutes.

After the Implant
Once you have the implant you must wait 7 days before the hormones get more adjusted to your body to have safe sex. Because it is a hormonal birth control option, your body will change trying to adjust to it, but this can vary depending on the person. The implant can make your periods lighter, they might even disappear after some time, which is completely normal. It can also make cramps lighter and PMS symptoms better. This is a great option because it is a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of birth control. Your doctor will usually give you a notice before the 5 years are up to see if you want to get it re-inserted or what options work better for you.


2.IUD (Intrauterine Device)

General Facts
IUDs are also a great form of birth control. They are 99% effective and with minimal maintenance because they are long-term birth control and are also reversible. An IUD is a small T-shaped device inserted into your uterus to prevent unwanted pregnancies. There are two types of IUDs; hormonal and copper. Copper IUDs look the same as hormonal IUDs, except there is a lining of copper wrapped around it, which makes it impossible for sperm to get to the egg because they do not like copper. The hormonal IUDs release progestin, which thickens the mucus on your cervix and can stop eggs from leaving your ovaries, meaning that there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. Regardless, both types of IUDs protect against unwanted pregnancies.

Hormonal IUDs and Copper IUDs
There are four types of hormonal IUDs; Mirena Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. They have different protection windows, Mirena and Liletta for 8 years, Kyleena for 5, and Skyla for 3. Mirena and Liletta also work as emergency contraceptives and are 99.9% effective if inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex. The copper IUD is called Paragard and lasts up to 12 years. Paragard is also effective as an emergency contraceptive like Mirena and Liletta. Talk to your doctor to see which option is best for you if considering an IUD as your form of birth control.

IUDs must be implanted by a doctor, usually a gynecologist. The IUD is put in through your vagina and into your uterus. It is recommended to take over-the-counter painkillers before an IUD is inserted because it can cause pain and cramping when it is put in place. However, this should only last a few minutes.

After the IUD is Implanted
Depending on what type of IUD you have and your body individually, side effects may differ. Hormonal IUDs are said to lessen periods or make your period stop. Copper ones can also do this, but some people get worse periods and cramps because their body reacts differently. There is also a small chance that the IUD can fall out or slip out of place. You can check this by yourself. There should be a string you should be able to feel connected to your IUD. This is an effective way to check if the IUD is still in you, but do not tug on the string because it can pull out your IUD entirely. If you think your IUD might be out of place, call your doctor to get seen as soon as possible. If there are no problems with your IUD, you can have safe sex after 7 days of the insertion. Do not get an IUD if you are prone to UTIs, have STDs, have a pelvic infection, or have cancer in the uterus or cervix. Talk to your doctor about your previous medical history before deciding if an IUD is right for you.


3. Birth Control Shot

General Facts and Procedure
The Depo shot is a 96% effective form of birth control. It requires more maintenance because you must get the shot every 3 months, 4 times a year. There is an allotted period when you need to get the shot, if you do not get it between this period, you may not be protected from pregnancy. Make sure to write down your appointments and stay ahead, but most doctors’ offices will send you appointment reminders to make sure. Medicines can also make the shot less effective, so consult with your doctor about any medical history to make the best decision for you. The shot has progestin, which prevents ovulation to prevent pregnancies. The procedure is quite simple and performed by either a doctor or nurse. You can choose your upper arm or butt cheek to get the shot, this is preference since the area can be a little sore for a few hours.

After the Procedure

Once you receive the shot, make your next appointment before leaving. The shot can make some changes to your body because of the hormones. It is normal to have some spotting, bleed a little more than usual, or not have periods at all. This all depends on your body and how it reacts. The shot is not only a fantastic way to prevent pregnancies, but it also protects from cancer of the uterus, iron deficiency, and future ectopic pregnancies. If you decide that you do want to get pregnant, you will have to stop receiving the shot, but it can delay pregnancy by up to ten months since the effect of the shot needs time to wear off. Once it wears off, you can get pregnant, and your hormones will return to normal. This birth control type is also the best for breastfeeding moms because it does not affect breast milk. If you want an effective form of birth control that offers minimal maintenance, the shot might be right for you.


4. Vaginal Ring

General Facts
The vaginal ring is a small flexible ring that goes into your vagina to prevent pregnancies by releasing hormones into your body. The ring contains progestin and estrogen, which are absorbed through the vaginal lining. It is 93% effective, but it does take more maintenance since you must replace it yourself. Normal vaginal ring schedules make you have it in for 3 weeks and take it out for 7 days to get your period. However, this can vary depending on the option you choose. There are two kinds of vaginal rings; NuvaRing and Annovera. NuvaRing is replaced once a month. It usually lasts about 4 weeks, depending on the schedule you chose, and you can even safely skip your period if desired. However, if the ring is outside of your body for more than 2 days on the days it is supposed to be inside you, you will not be protected from pregnancy. Annovera is a reusable ring that lasts for a year. You put it in your vagina for 21 days (about 3 weeks) and take it out for 7. They will give you a case to store the ring, and after 7 days you put it back in. If the ring is out of you on the days that it is supposed to be in you for more than a sum of 2 hours, then you will not be protected from unwanted pregnancies.

You do not need a doctor or nurse to insert this type of birth control, but you will need a prescription to start it. The ring is small and bendable for easy insertion into your vagina. It stays up there depending on which one you have and what plan you have. Even when you remove it, you will still be safe if you follow the schedule that you are given. Some medications and past health problems may affect the ring, so make sure you go over your medical history with your doctor before starting the vaginal ring.

After Insertion
Once you start using the ring, you can have safe sex after 7 days. You should not be able to feel the ring and it should stay in during sex. If this feels uncomfortable, you can try to adjust it, but if this does not work, looking at other forms of birth control is a good plan. The NuvaRing is thrown out after a month and a new one is inserted every month. The extra supply should be stored in the refrigerator until you need a new one. For the Annovera, you can store the ring in its case for the 7 days that it is out of your system and re-inserted once the 7 days are up. You can gently wash the ring in between uses with warm water and soap. The ring also has positive benefits by making your period and cramps lighter and can prevent acne, bone thinning, ovarian cysts, cysts in breasts, infections in the uterus, and ectopic surgery. If you are trying to get pregnant, you can just remove the ring and throw it out. Your hormones should go back to normal, and you should be able to get pregnant right away.


5. Birth Control Patch

General Facts
The birth control patch is like a sticker that you put on your body, and it releases hormones that are absorbed through your skin. The patch is 93% effective but higher maintenance because you must change it every week. The cycle is 3 weeks with a patch and one week without, and this is the week when you will get your period. Then the cycle repeats itself. The patch has both progestin and estrogen to prevent pregnancy. There are two patches; Xulane and Twirla. The patch can be worn on the belly, butt, and back, and with Xulane you can also wear it on your upper arm.

You also do not need a doctor or nurse for the patch, but you will need a prescription from them to start it. Some medicines and medical history can make the patches less effective so make sure to talk to your doctor about this form of birth control. The patch is easy to apply, pick the spot on your body you want to attach the patch to make sure it is clean and dry, and apply it on like you would a sticker. Make sure all the sides are very well stuck on your body and make sure it’s not on a part where the patch can get irritated like your waistband. With Xulane, you can choose to skip your period if desired, you just have a monthly cycle of 4 patches instead of 3 like Twirla.

After Applying
You can have safe sex 7 days after the application of your first patch. Make sure you check your patch daily to make sure the sides are not unsticking. The patch might unstick or could fall off, so make sure you are checking your patch, so you know that you are protected. If the patch falls off and you’re not sure when it happened, you may not be protected from pregnancy. If you have any issues or questions, call your doctor and they will be able to tell you the correct steps to take depending on the situation. If you decide later that you want to get pregnant, simply take off the patch and throw it away.


6. Birth Control Pill

General Facts and Procedure
A birth control pill is also a great form of birth control and one of the most common. It is 93% effective in preventing pregnancies, but it does require you to keep track of your pills by taking one every day. There are two kinds of birth control pills, combination pills (COCs) and progestin-only (POPs). Combination pills are the most common and have a combination of estrogen and progestin, while POPs only have progestin. Certain medications and health problems could affect the pill, so choosing the right form of birth control is important. There is no procedure for the pill, once you are prescribed the pills just try to stay consistent with the pills every day. The last row of the pills is a placebo, meaning you will get your period during the placebo week, but you will be able to track your period as well.

Starting the Pill
You can have safe sex 7 days after starting your pills if you have the combination pills. You can have safe sex after 2 days of starting your pills if you have the progestin-only pills. Since this is a hormonal type of birth control, it may have some side effects while your body gets adjusted to it. It can make your periods lighter or heavier depending on the person. The pill helps avoid ovarian cysts, acne, breast cysts, certain cancers, bone thinning, and anemia. With some types of pills, you can skip your period, some people get them once a month, others just 4 times a year. If you miss the pill, find the brand, and look up what the next steps are. You can also call your healthcare provider to find the best course of action. If you do miss a pill, use other types of birth control like condoms meanwhile to still be protected.


7. Condoms

 General Facts
Condoms are 87% effective and the most accessible type of birth control because you can buy them at pharmacies over the counter. This is also the only type of birth control that also prevents STDs. Even if you are on birth control, having your partner wear a condom is safer because no STDs can be transmitted, and it is an extra layer of protection. The condom’s main function is to collect semen so that no sperm can enter the vagina. There are 3 types of condoms; latex, plastic, and lambskin. Latex is the most common, it is made from rubber and prevents STDs and pregnancies. Plastic is better for people with a latex allergy while also preventing STDs and pregnancies. Depending on which type of condom you get with latex or plastic, double-check what kind of lubricant you can use so that it does not affect it. The last kind is lambskin condoms, which are made from the lining of an animal’s intestines. This type of condom can protect from pregnancy but not STDs. This option is also good for people with a latex allergy, and you can use any kind of lubricant you want with this one.

How to use a Condom
Wearing a condom is effective and easy to use once you practice a few times. They come in varied sizes so make sure you choose the right one for you. First, check the expiration to be sure that it is not expired. You must check which way it goes and then roll it down your penis to have full coverage. If you have never put one on, you can check online to see exactly how to do it right. Once you are done, you can have sex and afterward dispose of the condom in the trash. There are cases where the condom can break. If this happens, make sure to remove yourself and put on a new one. Because breaking a condom can happen, using a second form of birth control is safer to prevent any unwanted pregnancies. Condoms have no side effects either, so it is a great alternative if you want a non-hormonal type of birth control.

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