Birth Control Management
We are happy to offer advice and counseling on all aspects of birth control management. This includes talking through your personal preferences, family history, and any side effects associated with the various forms of contraception.
Birth Control Pills
For many, birth control pills are an effective and trusted way to avoid unplanned pregnancy. All hormonal contraceptives, including the pill, work by inhibiting the body’s natural cycle in some way. This may include preventing ovulation, changing the lining of the womb so eggs can’t implant, and thickening cervical mucus as a barrier against sperm.
Most contraceptive pills are designed to allow a monthly bleed, although there are other types which work on a longer cycle and reduced periods to just four each year. It is a convenient and well-known method of birth control, although not suitable for everyone.
Birth Control Ring
This transparent, flexible ring is inserted into the vagina and kept in place continuously for 3 weeks. During that time, it works in two ways: preventing the ovaries releasing any eggs, and creating a cervical mucus barrier against sperm just in case any eggs do get through. After three weeks, the old birth control ring is discarded and a one week break for menstruation is taken before inserting a new ring.
Users like the fact they don’t have to remember to take pills each day, and partners report being unaware of its presence during intercourse. For the few who prefer not to have it in place during intimacy, it can be safely removed for up to three hours without loss of effectiveness.
Birth Control Patch
A small, discreet patch is placed on your skin once a week for three weeks, followed by a patch-free week for menstruation. It delivers the same hormones as the birth control pills without having to remember a daily pill.
Injectable Birth Control
With a very low failure rate and being suitable for women who cannot take estrogen, the birth control injection is becoming increasingly popular. It is administered into either a vein or muscle once every three months and is flexible enough to be effective even if injections are delayed by two weeks. If necessary, it can also be given up to two weeks early.
There are few side effects, although some women experience heavier than normal bleeding after first starting on this method. Menstrual flow usually lightens after a while.
Injectable birth control has many advantages including reducing the risk of endometrial cancer, being suitable for women who are breastfeeding and for smokers over the age of 35. Getting the injection does, however, require a trip to the doctor’s office four times a year.
The Mirena IUD (intrauterine device) is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus during an outpatient visit to the doctor’s office. Being small and flexible, it is undetectable once correctly implanted. IUDs are a popular form of birth control because once they are fitted, women no longer have to think about or remember their contraception. Some women experience a change in their menstrual pattern after having an IUD fitted. For the Mirena, periods are usually much lighter, though some patients may have heavier than normal periods.
The Mirena IUD releases a progestin birth control hormone and is effective for five years after fitting. After five years, the device is removed and replaced.
This IUD is similar to the Mirena, but is very slightly smaller. It works in much the same way, releasing a progestin hormone directly into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by affecting ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus. The Skyla IUD is effective for three years, after which time it must be replaced. All IUD methods of contraception are extremely reliable, with less than one in one hundred women using them becoming pregnant.
The Paragard IUD is 100% hormone-free birth control that can last up to 10 years. It is similar to the Mirena in size and shape, but it uses copper to induce changes inside the uterus that makes sperm unable to survive. Women with the Paragard will continue to have regular monthly cycles, though some will notice slightly heavier or longer cycles with this IUD in place.
This form of birth control is via a flexible plastic rod that’s about the size of a matchstick. Like the IUD devices, it contains a progestin hormone and lasts for up to three years, after which time it must be replaced.
The little rod is inserted beneath the skin on the underside of the upper arm. You can feel the implant, but it won’t interfere with normal life and should not irritate. The Nexplanon can be removed at any time if you so wish.
The diaphragm is a shallow cup shaped like a dome that’s made of silicone. It works by preventing sperm reaching the egg and is used with a spermicide. It is generally not as effective as other methods of birth control, but is still preferred by some women. The benefits of diaphragm fitting include not having any effect on the body’s hormones, the diaphragm is safe while breastfeeding, and it is immediately effective.
Once fitted with a diaphragm, which is available in different sizes, you will be shown the right way to insert and remove it so you know it’s properly in place.
Natural Family Planning
This practice relies on a combination of methods to avoid pregnancy, including basal body temperature monitoring, cervical mucus identification and the calendar tracking method.
Women who want to rely on natural family planning methods need to totally understand their body rhythms and cycles and be prepared to do plenty of tracking and monitoring. Once understood, it’s also a good way to detect your most fertile time, so can help you get pregnant too when you are ready.