The medical information published on this website is not intended to serve as a substitution for a thorough evaluation from a qualified healthcare provider.
Furthermore, no one should act upon any of the information (including medical conditions or procedures) contained within this website without appropriate medical advice, a thorough examination or any evaluation necessary to provide a health assessment from a qualified physician.
Our providers will work with you to choose the best options taking careful consideration of your lifestyle, medical history, and family planning needs.
The most common categories of birth control include:
- Long acting reversible contraceptive or LARC which are the IUD or the implant (Nexplanon)
- Combination hormonal contraception such as the pill, the patch or the vaginal ring
- Progestin only contraception such as the injection (Depo Provera) or mini pill
- Barrier methods which include condoms
- Fertility awareness methods, often referred to as natural family planning
- Emergency contraception
What is the IUD? The IUD is a small, T-shaped, plastic device that is inserted into and left inside the uterus. There are two types of IUDs:
- The hormonal IUD releases the hormone progestin into the uterus. There are different brands of hormonal IUDs that last for different lengths of time. Depending on the brand, they are approved for up to 3 to 6 years of use. Mirena and Kyleena are names of hormonal IUDs.
- The copper IUD releases copper into the uterus. This IUD does not contain hormones. It is approved for up to 10 years of use.
How does the IUD work? The IUD works mainly by preventing fertilization of an egg by sperm. The progestin in the hormonal IUD thickens mucus found in the cervix. Thicker mucus makes it harder for sperm to enter the uterus and reach an egg. Progestin also thins the lining of the uterus.
The copper in the copper IUD interferes with sperm’s ability to move. When sperm stop acting normally, it is harder for them to enter the uterus and reach an egg.
What is the birth control implant (Nexplanon)? The birth control implant is a flexible, plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted just under the skin in the upper arm. It releases progestin into the body. The implant is approved for up to 3 years of use.
How does the implant work? The progestin in the implant prevents pregnancy mainly by stopping ovulation. The progestin in the implant also thickens the mucus of the cervix, which makes it harder for sperm to enter the uterus and reach the egg. Progestin also thins the lining of the uterus.
What are combined hormonal birth control methods? Birth control pills, the birth control patch, and the vaginal birth control ring are combined hormonal birth control methods. They contain two hormones: estrogen and progestin.
How do combined hormonal methods prevent pregnancy? Combined hormonal birth control methods release estrogen and progestin into the whole body. These hormones prevent pregnancy mainly by stopping ovulation (the release of an egg from one of the ovaries). They also cause other changes in the body that help prevent pregnancy. The mucus in the cervix thickens, making it hard for sperm to enter the uterus. The lining of the uterus also thins.
What is progestin? Progestin is a form of progesterone, the hormone that plays a role in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Progestin is used in several birth control methods including oral pills and the injection (Depo Provera)
How does the birth control injection work? The birth control injection (Depo Provera) contains the hormone depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA). This hormone protects against pregnancy for 13 weeks. You need four injections a year while you are using this form of birth control.
The DMPA in the injection has several effects that work together to prevent pregnancy:
- It stops ovulation.
- It thickens and decreases the amount of cervical mucus. This makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and fertilize an egg.
- It thins the lining of the uterus.
What are barrier methods of birth control? Barrier methods of birth control act as barriers to keep the man’s sperm from reaching the woman’s egg. Some barrier methods also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A few barrier methods (spermicide, condom, and sponge) can be bought in most drugstores. Others (diaphragm and cervical cap) must be prescribed by a health care professional.
What is fertility awareness? Fertility Awareness is knowing and recognizing when the fertile time (when a woman can get pregnant) occurs in the menstrual cycle. If you are practicing fertility awareness as a birth control method to prevent pregnancy, you need to avoid having sexual intercourse or use a barrier method of birth control, such as a condom, during the fertile period. If you are trying to get pregnant, you should have sexual intercourse on your fertile days, ideally every day or every other day.
What is emergency contraception? Emergency contraception (EC) reduces the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. Common situations in which EC could be used include forgetting to take several birth control pills in a row, having a condom break or slip off, or not using a birth control method during sex. It also can be used after a woman has been raped.
How does emergency contraception work? Using EC does not cause an abortion. An abortion ends an existing pregnancy. EC prevents pregnancy from occurring. EC must be used soon after unprotected sexual intercourse to be effective. It does not work if pregnancy has already occurred.
Emergency Contraception does not require a prescription from the doctor.