Is your annual gynecologist appointment coming up? Do you need to discuss birth control options? Whether this is your first experience with family planning or you just want to change from your current method, take a look at questions to ask your doctor.
What Are Your Options?
The type of birth control method you choose depends on a few factors. These include your personal preference (or comfort level), your overall health, whether you want to get pregnant sometime in the near future or not, ease of use, and effectiveness. Common types of birth control methods include:
- Hormonal birth control. As the name implies, these methods use hormones (progestin or progestin and estrogen) to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills, some types of intrauterine devices (IUDs), patches, rings, and shots are popular hormonal methods.
- Barrier methods. These types of birth control options create a barrier (like the name says) between the sperm and the egg to prevent pregnancy. Condoms, sponges, cervical caps, and diaphragms are barrier methods.
- Sterilization. Surgical female sterilization, or tubal ligation, stops the egg from moving down the fallopian tube. Without an egg, pregnancy can not happen.
- Non-hormonal IUD. The copper IUD is a long-term option. The gynecologist inserts this device into your uterus. It can remain in place for up to 10 years.
Along with these methods, some women choose to use the rhythm method. This alternative (also known as natural family planning) requires the woman to track her menstrual cycle closely and avoid sexual intercourse during her fertile days.
Which Option Is the Right One?
While the OBGYN can't answer this question for you, the doctor can help you to choose the best possible birth control method for your needs. The gynecologist will start with a pelvic exam and a health history. They will discuss your genetic risks, family planning goals, and what you feel is easiest or most realistic to use correctly and consistently.
Which Option Is the Most Effective?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the copper IUD has a potential failure rate of 0.8 percent. The hormonal implant's failure rate is 0.1 percent, the progestin injection's failure rate is 4 percent, and the combined birth control pill and progestin-only pill's failure rates are 7 percent. The diaphragm and cervical cap have a failure rate of 17 percent and the male condom's failure rate is 13 percent, Natural family planning has a failure rate between 2 and 23 percent.
For more information, contact a local gynecologist.