Contraception – What it is and When to take it
Birth control is a highly personal choice and is based on individual preferences, practicality, medical history, lifestyle and other factors. Gynecologist Jill Gibson, MD, provides scientifically accurate, practical information and medical advice to patients who have questions about the type of contraception they should use.
Types of Contraception
For barrier methods of birth control to be effective, you must use them properly every single time. These methods of contraception may present minor side effects — usually an allergic reaction to the material used in the product.
Typically made of latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene or natural materials, a male condom is a sheath that covers the penis during sexual intercourse or oral sex. Some have added spermicide, but only latex condoms have been proven to prevent STD transmission. Generally, condoms have a failure rate of 15 percent, but most of these failures are caused by improper usage. Make sure to read labels carefully — not all types of condoms prevent STDs and pregnancy.
There is a wide array of birth control methods that prevent pregnancy by delivering estrogen and progesterone, two female reproductive hormones. When properly used, hormonal contraception is much more effective than barrier methods. However, these types of birth control can have rare but serious side effects and do not protect you or your partner against STDs.
Birth Control Pills
These pills contain estrogen and progesterone, which prevent ovulation and keep the uterine lining from thickening so the fertilized egg cannot attach. Combination pills have been shown to protect against ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, iron-deficiency anemia, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and fibrocystic breast disease. They also lower the risk of ovarian cysts.
These pills contain only progestin, which reduces and thickens cervical mucus, preventing the sperm from reaching the egg and keeping the uterine lining from thickening.
Birth control pills are available by prescription only. They present a risk for smokers and women with certain medical conditions, have a variety of side effects and interact with some medications, so you should always speak to your gynecologist before taking oral contraception. Birth control pills have an overall failure rate of only 1-3 percent.
An injectable form of progesterone, Depo-Provera lasts for 12 weeks. Side effects are the same as those of mini-pills, with a failure rate of only 1 percent.
Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
An IUD is a T-shaped device containing either copper or levonorgestrel. With a failure rate of around 4-5 percent, it is one of the most effective forms of long-term reversible birth control and can last from 5-10 years, depending on the type. IUDs are a safe and effective form of contraception, but there are contraindications, so it is important to consult your gynecologist when considering this method of birth control.
Also known as natural family planning, periodic abstinence involves refraining from intercourse during the approximately 10-day fertile period of your menstrual cycle. Although it negates the risk of side effects and complications of other birth control methods, you must pay close attention to your menstrual cycle and changes in body temperature and cervical mucus for it to be effective. The failure rate can range from 14-47 percent.
Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure that eliminates the possibility of pregnancy by sealing off the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from reaching the eggs. This form of birth control is not recommended if you are unsure about whether you may want to become pregnant in the future. Complications are rare, but due to it being a highly invasive surgical procedure, many couples opt for a male vasectomy as it is a simple procedure that’s often performed under local anesthesia.
Contact Us To Learn More About Contraception
Whether you are looking for a gynecologist for pregnancy or want to learn more about birth control options, contact us at 985-898-5990 to schedule an appointment today. Jill Gibson, MD, and our caring, professional staff look forward to serving all your women’s health care needs.