According to the latest statistics, there are an estimated 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year. Out of those, an astonishing 45% are unintended or unintentional pregnancies. An average American woman wants to have two children and will spend around three years trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, or postpartum. The rest of her reproductive life, which is around three decades, she will spend trying to avoid pregnancy.

Almost all women in the United States have or will use birth control at some point in their lives. Birth control is the best way to avoid unintended pregnancies and take better control of their lives. It is because of the popularity of birth control that there are so many options available in the market. However, not all of them are as effective for everyone or completely safe.

Finding the right birth control can be frustrating. That’s why our women’s health specialists at Natomas Family Practice in Sacramento, CA, have created a small guide with important details of various types of birth control to help you make an informed decision.

Intrauterine Contraception

Intrauterine contraception or IUD is long-term contraception that doesn’t require much maintenance and provides effective and lasting birth control. Choices include the Levonorgestrel Intrauterine System (LNG IUD), which is a small device inserted into the uterus by an experienced doctor and releases small amounts of the hormone progestin each day to prevent conception. The other option is the Copper T intrauterine device (IUD), which is a small “T”-shaped device that is also placed inside the uterus and can help prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years with less than 1% chance of failure.  

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal birth control is short-acting contraception that adjusts the natural estrogen or progestin levels in the body to reduce the chance of pregnancy. Common methods include implants under the skin that release progestin in the body for three years, progestin injections administered every three months, oral contraceptives (the pill!), hormone patches that release estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream, and the vaginal contraceptive ring. The failure rate ranges from 0.1% to 7%, with the implant being the most effective and the ring being the least effective.

Barrier Methods

Barrier birth control methods are one-time contraceptives such as cervical caps, diaphragms, condoms, and contraceptive sponges that contain spermicide. They all work differently and can only be used one time to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. These contraceptives don’t require a prescription and only work when used during intercourse. The condom can also prevent STIs and is the only birth control method to do so.

Emergency Contraception

In case you forgot to use a birth control method before intercourse or the birth control option you used failed to do its job, emergency contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy. There are two options for emergency contraceptives; emergency contraceptive pills that can be taken up to five days after having unprotected sex and copper T IUD, which must be inserted within five days of intercourse to prevent pregnancy. These methods should not be used regularly and should only be considered a plan B!

Permanent Birth Control

Permanent contraception includes two simple surgical procedures, one for males and one for females. Female sterilization or tubal ligation involves getting the fallopian tubes closed to make sure the sperm does meet the egg for fertilization. Male sterilization or vasectomy prevents the sperm from being released by sealing the tubes that carry them. The process is irreversible but does not impact the sexual function of males or females.

Choosing the Right Birth Control Option

Before you decide which birth control method to choose, it is important to consult with an experienced family physician to discuss your options and your health status.

Book an appointment with the leading family healthcare specialists in California at Natomas Family Practice for more information!