Choosing the right time to start—or grow—your family is an important personal decision. Advances in contraceptive technology enable women to safely, effectively, and easily prevent pregnancy until the time is exactly right. At Commonwealth OB-Gyn, we are pleased to offer an extensive selection of family planning options. With so many safe, powerful, effective choices, selecting the right birth control method for you, your family, and your stage in life can sometimes feel overwhelming. Our warm, caring, Board Certified practitioners will take the time to help you understand the benefits (and potential risks) of each option and work with you to develop an individualized contraception plan.
Hormonal contraception works by altering your hormonal balance to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary) and thus fertilization; many hormonal methods also alter the composition of the uterus to prevent implantation should fertilization occur unexpectedly. Hormonal contraception comes in several forms:
- Birth Control Pills: Formulated with either a combination of estrogen and progesterone, or just progesterone, “the pill” is taken once daily, always at the same time. Utilizing a regular 28-day schedule, most pill prescriptions contain 21 active pills and 7 placebos to keep menstruation regular and to ensure that you restart the next month on time. Birth control pills may help regulate menstrual flow and reduce cramping, as well as improve acne. This form of birth control is highly effective, but only when taken regularly; missing pills can significantly increase the risk of unplanned pregnancy.
- The Patch: Brand name Ortho Evra®, “the patch” utilizes a patch of lightweight material placed on the arm or different sites on the body to release estrogen and progesterone through the skin. Each patch lasts for 7 days and is replaced every week for three weeks; the fourth week is patch-free to enable menstruation.
- The Shot (injectable birth control): Depo-Provera® is a progesterone-only shot administered once every 12 weeks. “The shot” can also regulate, and eventually temporarily eliminate menstruation, but can cause weight gain. This is an excellent alternative for women who must avoid the use of estrogen.
IUDs (intrauterine devices) are small, flexible, T-shaped contraception devices that are implanted into the uterus by a licensed medical practitioner. Today’s IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. IUD placement and removal are quick, relatively painless procedures that can be performed in your doctor’s office. At Commonwealth OB-Gyn, we offer the following FDA-approved IUDs:
- Mirena: Mirena is a levonorgestrel-based IUD, meaning that it delivers a small, continuous supply of this progestin hormone directly into the uterus. It is the only IUD approved by the FDA to control heavy menstrual bleeding. Mirena must be removed or replaced by your physician after 5 years.
- Skyla: Similar to Mirena, Skyla provides continuous, highly effective birth control through the slow release of levonorgestrel. Skyla is smaller than Mirena, and has lower levels of progestin. It must be removed or replaced after 3 years.
- ParaGard: ParaGard in a non-hormone-based IUD composed of plastic and copper. The copper interferes with the movement of sperm and egg fertilization. It can remain in the uterus for up to 10 years.
IUDs do not protect against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, IUDs carry the risk for potentially serious side effects, so it is important to review those potential side effects with your physician before making your decision.
Birth Control Implant/Removal: NEXPLANON
NEXPLANON is a small, soft, flexible device that is implanted under the skin on the inside of the upper arm. NEXPLANON can be inserted in the office by a trained physician with the use of local anesthetics. Your physician can remove NEXPLANON any time you decide to become pregnant, but it must be removed or replaced within 3 years. NEXPLANON has shown to be more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but does not protect against sexually-transmitted diseases.
Tubal ligation is a permanent form of birth control appropriate only for women who are certain that pregnancy is not in their future plans. Tubal ligation involves surgically cutting, tying, or sealing the fallopian tubes in order to prevent eggs from traveling from the ovaries to the uterus. In many cases, it can be performed laparoscopically under a regional anesthetic. It can be performed after a C-section or immediately following a vaginal birth. It is important to follow all of your physician’s pre- and post-operative instructions carefully to minimize the risk of serious side effects, complications, and discomfort.
Contact Commonwealth OB-Gyn
If you would like more information about contraception and family planning services at Commonwealth OB-Gyn, or would like to learn more about our practice, our physicians, and our services, we encourage you to schedule your appointment today. We look forward to hearing from you!