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Birth control…what goes where?! And what’s right for ME?

Approximately 60% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method, yet many are unaware of the numerous contraception options available. Birth control has come a long way and go way beyond the pill and condoms! Let’s explore some options!

Barrier methods

Barrier methods include diaphragms, cervical caps and sponges, male/female condoms and spermicide. These are typically one-time methods, meaning you only use them when you are actually having sex. Each method is used just prior to intercourse and work by either blocking or killing sperm to prevent pregnancy. Barrier methods are 72%-88% effective but must be used correctly and consistently each and every time.

Fertility awareness

Tracking your fertility pattern each month allows you to be aware of when you are ovulating and fertile or not. You then can avoid intercourse or use a barrier method on days you are likely to be fertile. Efficacy ranges from 76%-88%

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC’s)

IUDs and implants…what goes where? Long term contraception, known as LARC’s are devices inserted into your uterus (IUD’s) or your arm (Implants). They are 99% effective and depending on which option you choose, can stay in place 3-10 years! There’s even a non-hormonal one! LARC options are ideal for women who want to “get it and forget it”. They are low maintenance and don’t require daily, weekly or monthly maintenance so they avoid user error. Moreso, they are long term and not permanent. So, if you decide you are ready to start a family or just don’t want your IUD/implant any longer, it can be easily removed by your provider at any time.

Hormonal methods

Injection or” The shot”, entails an injection of progestin every 3 months from your provider to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. The Patch is a skin patch worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks or upper arm. Each patch is removed after a week of wear and replaced with a new one each week for 3 weeks. During the fourth week, no patch is worn so you can have a menstrual period. The vaginal ring is inserted into the vagina and left in place for 3 weeks and then removed for a hormone free week so you can have a period. After the 4th week, a new ring is inserted. Oral contraceptives or “The Pill” need to be taken at the same time each day to be effective. They contain estrogen and progestin or progesterone only, which is a good option for women who can’t take estrogen. Efficacy of these methods range from 94% to 98%.

Your choice of birth control is a personal one. When choosing birth control it’s essential to consider safety and effectiveness, but equally important is how does it fit into YOUR lifestyle and goals. Every woman is different and what works for one may not work for another, and that’s ok! Here at The Gynecology Institute of Chicago we want to ensure that the birth control you choose is personalized for you. Make an appointment to come chat and let us take the time to make sure the birth control you choose is best for you, your lifestyle and your future goals.

Contraceptive Use in the United States. (2020, April 17). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from

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