According to the Guttmacher Institute, “some 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method.” While the pill is one of the most popular forms of birth control, there are many other choices that can be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
As with most medicines, there are some risks to using different types of birth control, however there are also many benefits! Many hormonal methods can help with menstrual bleeding and pain, as well as acne. Each type of birth control is different, and may not be the right choice for everyone.
Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) are birth control methods that can last multiple years and are easy to use. Unlike sterilization, LARCs are reversible and can be removed at any time if a woman wants to get pregnant. The most common types of LARCs are:
- Intrauterine device (IUD)
Nexplanon is a small flexible rod that is placed in the arm by a health care provider. This method can last up to 3 years and prevents pregnancy more than 99% of the time. An IUD is a small device placed inside the uterus by a health care provider. Depending on which type of IUD a woman chooses, it can prevent pregnancy anywhere from 3-10 years. Unlike the pill, neither of these options require you to do anything once they are placed. However, neither of these options protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).
Other popular forms of birth control, that are not long acting are:
- Depo-Provera Shot
- Vaginal Rings.
The Depo-Provera Shot is a shot that a woman gets at her health center every 3 months. You must get the shot every 3 months to prevent pregnancy. When done correctly, the shot prevents pregnancy more than 97-99% of the time. Birth control pills are taken once a day by mouth. The patch is placed on the body and changed weekly. The vaginal ring is placed by you in your vagina and changed monthly. All of these methods prevent pregnancy 92-99%. Unlike Nexplanon and IUD, these methods require work from the user. If used incorrectly or irregularly, they aren’t as effective in preventing pregnancy. None of these methods protects against STIs.
Condoms are the only type of birth control methods that protect against STIs. They prevent pregnancy 85-98% of the time. Any time you have sex without using a birth control method, you can get pregnant. This is true even if you just had a baby, are breastfeeding or do not have regular periods. If you do not want to be pregnant right now, choose the method that best works for you.
To learn more about birth control options, make an appointment at a HealthNet location near you.