Choosing a contraceptive option is not an easy task. Before choosing the method right for you, you must consider several things including: method of delivery and your comfort level with that method, benefits, risks, side effects, and efficacy. Always consult your healthcare provider if you have any underlying medical conditions to see which methods are safe for you. This is meant as a brief overview. Each method could be discussed for pages upon pages, so always discuss the option that sounds the most suitable for your life with your provider prior to initiation.
Natural Family Planning:
Natural Family Planning is when you do not have sex or use a barrier method on the days you are most fertile. A woman choosing this method needs to keep record of her cycles, cervical mucous and basal body temperature. Cervical mucus is the discharge from your vagina. You are most fertile when it is clear and slippery like raw egg whites. To record your basal body temperature, you need to chart your temperature daily first thing in the morning. Your temperature will rise 0.4 to 0.8° F on the first day of ovulation. Pregnancy rate: 25/100. Side effects/Risks: None
Barrier Methods:
The sponge is a soft, disk-shaped device with a loop for taking it out. It is made out of polyurethane foam and contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Pregnancy rate: 16-32/100. Side effects/Risks: Irritation, Allergic reactions, Hard time taking it out, Toxic shock if left in too long
The diaphragm is a shallow latex cup. The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped latex cup. It often is called by its brand name, FemCap. For both, you must be “fitted” for the method. Both must be left in place for 6 to 8 hours after having sex to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy rate: 15/100. Side effects/Risks: Irritation, Allergic reactions, Urinary tract infection, Toxic shock if left in too long
A female condom is worn by the woman inside her vagina. It keeps sperm from getting into her body. It is made of thin, flexible, manmade rubber and is packaged with a lubricant and can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex.Pregnancy rate: 20/100. Side effects/Risks: Irritation or Allergic reactions
Male condoms are a thin sheath placed over an erect penis to keep sperm from entering a woman’s body. Condoms can be made of latex, polyurethane, or “natural/lambskin”. The natural kind do not protect against STIs. Pregnancy rate: 11-16/100. Side effects/Risks: Allergic reaction
Oral Contraceptives:
Combined oral contraceptive pills contain the hormones estrogenand progestin. It is taken daily to keep the ovaries from releasing an egg. The pill also causes changes in the lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus to keep the sperm from joining the egg. Pregnancy rate: 5/100. Side effects/Risks: Dizziness, Upset stomach, Changes in your period, Changes in mood, Weight gain, High blood pressure, Blood clots, Heart attack, Stroke, New vision problems
Progestin only pills are also available to patients unable to take estrogen due to an underlying medical condition or breastfeeding. Pregnancy rate: 5/100. Side effects/Risks: Spotting or bleeding between periods, Weight gain, Sore breasts
The Patch:
The patch, Ortho Evra, is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, outer arm, or upper body. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining with the egg. You put on a new patch once a week for 3 weeks. You don’t use a patch the fourth week in order to have a period. Pregnancy rate: 5/100. Side effects/Risks: Similar to side effects for the combination pill but a greater exposure to estrogen
Injection:
Depo-Provera is an injection of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every 3 months. The birth control shot stops the ovaries from releasing an egg in most women. It also causes changes in the cervix that keep the sperm from joining with the egg. Pregnancy rate: less than 1 per 100. Side effects/Risks: Bleeding between periods, Weight gain, Sore breasts, Headaches, Bone loss with long-term use (more than 2 years)
Vaginal Ring:
NuvaRing is a thin, flexible ring that releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. It works by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining the egg. You squeeze th