HealthCentral: Contraception Choices for Every Stage of Life
HealthCentral interviewed Natasha R. Schimmoeller, MD, a family planning expert in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai, about birth control options for women. The best method of contraception may depend on a woman’s age and whether she is planning to have children. Schimmoeller reviewed a few options and encouraged patients to consult their healthcare provider to explore the best choice for them.
A small, thin rod implanted just under the skin of the arm releases a steady dose of pregestational hormone, which prevents pregnancy. Schimmoeller told HealthCentral that the implant is 99% effective and can last up to three years.
The Intrauterine Device (IUD)
There are two different types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal.
“The hormonal IUD contains progestin and works by making the natural mucus of the cervix so thick that sperm can’t get through,” Schimmoeller said. The T-shaped device can be used at any age and comes in a non-hormonal form that uses copper.
“The copper IUD is the longest-lasting contraceptive and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use up to 10 years,” Schimmoeller told HealthCentral. Like the hormonal-IUD, the copper version is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. One benefit of use during the childbearing years is that usually, a woman can get pregnant soon after the device is removed.
The Pill or Mini-Pill
Unlike an implant or an IUD, oral contraceptives require daily dosing.
“If you opt for the mini-pill, you will need to take it at the same time every day—within a three-hour window—to optimize the prevention of pregnancy,” said Schimmoeller.
Oral contraceptives usually contain estrogens and progestins that are about 93% effective at preventing sperm from entering the egg. This form of contraception might be a good choice for those years between college and parenthood.
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