Birth Control Options

Many women in today’s world are taking some form of birth control. Choosing long term birth control options that allow you to prevent pregnancy at all times can provide you with consistency and with peace of mind. Most insurance plans cover some birth control (after all, paying for birth control costs less than paying for a baby). The two most commonly covered methods are the pill and the patch. Before choosing a birth control prescription, you should check your insurance plan and consult your doctor.

Progestin-only birth control prescriptions are ideal for women who cannot have estrogen. Additionally, progestin-only methods can be used during breast-feeding. Progestin is similar to progesterone, a hormone produced by the ovaries to prevent release of an egg. It can also cause thick mucus around the cervix, preventing the sperm from combining with an egg. The progestin-only birth control methods include shots and implants. There are even special progestin-only pills (POPs).

The other category of long-term prescription birth control is combined hormone prescriptions. These birth control methods make use of hormones similar to progesterone, but also combine the regimen with hormones related to estrogen. The ring, the patch, and the pill are all combined hormone birth control techniques.

The shot: Depo-Provera is the shot. It is effective for 12 weeks. You do not get a period for those 12 weeks. The main advantage (other than no period for three months) is that you do not have to remember to take a pill every day. The main disadvantage is that any side effects may take the entire 12 weeks to wear off, and if you have an adverse reaction it is very difficult (nearly impossible) to get the hormone out of your system. Additionally, it may be difficult to become pregnant when you stop using the shot.

Implant: Norplant is the birth control implant. However, it is off the market. Unless you are already using an implant, you cannot have Norplant. It is difficult to remove, and can cause serious internal damage in some cases.

POPs: These work almost the same way as the pill, only it is for women who cannot take estrogen. They can cause irregular bleeding patterns, however, and must be taken at the same time each day or the patterns become even worse. The ability to conceive almost immediately after quitting POPs is often considered an advantage for those who like to meticulously plan their pregnancies.

The ring: Nuvaring is one of the latest long-term birth control developments. It is inserted for three weeks, and then removed for the fourth week of the month in order for a regular period. Women with sensitive skin, who may be irritated by a transdermal patch, can use the ring in the vagina themselves. For women who like to use back-up birth control, like diaphragms or cervical caps, Nuvaring is inconvenient, as it prevents the use of any of these techniques.

Ortho-Evra: The patch is rapidly rising in popularity. It works much like a nicotine patch: the hormones are released from the patch and into the skin, and then absorbed into the body. The patch’s effects are very similar to the pill’s (lower risk of cervical cancer, less PMS and cramping, and a more regular period). You wear a patch for a week at a time, excepting the week of your period. The skin can become irritated, however, and women who weigh more than 198 pounds may not be protected from pregnancy.

The pill: Most women are familiar with this familiar birth control stand-by. It is still the most popular form of birth control (long term or otherwise), and it is almost universally covered by insurance plans. Unlike the ring or the patch, the pill’s hormone dosages can be adjusted to make it usable during breastfeeding (this is often known as the mini-pill).

All birth control can cause a degree of nausea, a loss or gain of weight, or breast tenderness. Make sure that you understand the possible side effects of your birth control before taking it, and be sure to contact your doctor if you experience persisting symptoms that cause discomfort. Also note that no birth control is 100 percent effective, and that birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

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