There are many different types of contraception. Each option has its own unique qualities. When evaluating a contraceptive method, we recommend reviewing its risks, benefits, side effects, ease of use, effectiveness, and cost among other things. No single method is perfect across the board for all patients. Information on this page serves as a reference for patients to review for background information on some of these methods. As always, all information should be discussed in consultation with a physician.
A progestin only injection given in the office every 3 months for contraception. It is a very effective contraceptive option and is particularly popular with patients who don't like having to remember to take a pill every day. Common side effects that patients don't like include prolonged abnormal bleeding after the first injection, weight gain, and delayed return to fertility after stopping the injection
Birth Control Pills
A pill that must be taken every day for the prevention of pregnancy. There are many different types of contraceptive pills. Patients who are unable to tolerate one particular pill are often able to be switched to a different type of pill with resulting reduction in their side effects. All oral contraceptive pills carry a slight increased risk of thromboembolism (blood clot). Patients who smoke, have high blood pressure, have a personal or family history of thromboembolism, or have trouble remembering to take the pill every day may not be ideal candidates for birth control pills.
A small ring that is inserted inside the vagina every 3 weeks for contraception. It releases both estrogen and progestin (etonogestrel). The ring is popular with patients who don't like having to remember a pill every day. It carries similar thromboembolism risk to birth control pills. The ring is not made of latex and is ok for patients with latex allergies.
A patch that is applied weekly for contraception. It releases an estrogen and progestin similar to the ring for its effect. The patch is popular with patients who don't like having to remember to take a pill every day or are unable to insert the ring. It has a risk for thromboembolism and will occasionally cause skin irritation on patients with sensitive skin.
Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta Intrauterine Device (IUD)
A t-shaped device that releases a progestin to prevent pregnancy for 3 to 5 years depending on which device you choose. The device is inserted in the office. The IUD is a good option for patients who want long term reversible contraception that they don't have to remember each day. It is also beneficial for reducing heavy menstrual flow. However, many patients will experience prolonged irregular bleeding for the first 3-6 months after insertion. It is not a good option for anyone who is sexually promiscuous or for someone who is uncomfortable with not having a period each month.
A copper containing, hormone free contraceptive device that prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years. Like the other IUDs, it is inserted inside the uterus in the office. The paragard device is a good option for patients looking for an effective long term reversible contraceptive method that does not consist of exogenous hormones. It is not a good option for patients who have hypersensitivity to copper or those who are sexually promiscuous.
A single rod that is implanted in the upper arm in the office and releases a progestin (etonogestrel) to prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years. The rod is popular with patients who are looking for a long acting, reversible contraceptive method. The nexplanon rod is commonly confused with norplant. For comparison, norplant consisted of 6 rods, utilized a different progestin, and is no longer available in the US. Nexplanon can cause abnormal uterine bleeding for the first 3-6 months after insertion.
A method of contraception that is designed to be permanent. There are several different types of sterilzation. The most common types are Postpartum Tubal Ligation, Laparoscopic Tubal Ligation, Essure Hysteroscopic Tubal Occlusion, and Vasectomy. Each of these methods are highly effective. They are popular with patients who are absolutely certain that their family (fertility) is complete or those with health conditions that would make future pregnancies dangerous for the mother. Sterilization should be carefully considered as there is potential for regret. Excellent non-permanent alternatives exist for patients uncertain about sterilization.
Jamison Alexander, D.O., F.A.C.O.G.
Misty Nobles, PA-C