What are the most popular types of birth control?
Approximately 62 percent of women between ages 15 and 44 use some form of contraception. The oral contraceptive pill is still the most popular. However there are quite a few other methods in which, based on each individual may be a better choice. Once a woman decides she doesn’t want more children, female sterilization via tubal ligation or blockage is a popular choice. Some couples opt for male sterilization via vasectomy. Both of these are the most effective means of birth control.
Other choices include intrauterine devices (IUDs), which may have hormones or small hormone implants, which are inserted under the skin of the arm. These types are usually effective for five years. A woman can also receive an injection called Depo-Provera about every three months in her doctor’s office. Hormone patches, which are worn on the skin, and hormone rings, which are inserted vaginally and changed monthly, are the other hormone-based birth control options. Often, all of these choices are good if a woman does not want to take a daily pill.
Barrier methods, which are less effective, include male and female condoms, and diaphragms and sponges, which are inserted intravaginally. These may be combined with a spermicide to increase contraceptive effectiveness.
Least effective forms of birth control are male withdrawal before ejaculation and fertility awareness, also known as the rhythm method, in which a woman avoids intercourse during her most fertile time between periods.
Regardless of the method you and your doctor find best for you, none of these birth control methods other than condoms prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
What are the side effects of each form of birth control?
Birth control pills are hormone-based to prevent ovulation and can have side effects. There are more than 40 different types and dosages of birth control pills to fit a woman’s individual need. The most serious potential side effects with pills and other hormone containing devices are blood clots, which can cause deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary emboli, strokes and heart attacks. Fortunately, these side effects are rare, yet more common in women who smoke and are over the age of 35. Rarely, pills can cause high blood pressure. Common side effects are intermenstrual spotting, irregular bleeding, nausea, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, decreased libido, missed periods, vaginal discharge and changes in eyesight for those who wear contact lenses. These side effects can often be decreased by changing the dose, or type of pill prescribed.
IUDs that contain hormones can have the same side effects as pills. Also there are rare side effects called uterine perforation and infection called pelvic inflammatory disease.
Risks with tubal ligation include bleeding, infection, damage to the bowel, bladder or major blood vessels, reactions to anesthesia, or failure of the procedure, resulting in unwanted pregnancy.
Finally, side effects from barrier methods may be local allergic reactions to latex on the skin. There can also be skin irritation to spermacides, or other types of chemicals used in producing the products.
Kelly A. Schibler, M.D. joined Island Family Medicine in 2011. A family physician for 26 years, her depth of practice includes child and adult medicine, procedures such as joint injections, dermatology, sports medicine, women's healthcare, which includes pap smears and contraception counseling. She is also a specialist in management of opiate dependency with buprenorphine/suboxone. Island Family Medicine is located at 2 Marshland Road, Suite 5, on Hilton Head. (843) 842-6357