"I want to start birth control but I don't know what's available. What are the choices? Which one is best?"
There are many good birth control choices available. Each method has strengths and weaknesses. The choice depends on your needs and personal characteristics. For example, if you have trouble remembering to take a pill every day then the injection, patch or vaginal ring is probably best for you. If you've already had children and want to avoid hormones, an IUD may be your best choice. Schedule an appointment with a provider at Student Health Services. They"ll be happy to review the options with you and get you started on an appropriate method . Here are some of the options available:
- Birth control pills, Ortho Evra® and Nuvaring® all work the same way and have similar benefits and risks. All three methods contain a combination of progestin and estrogen and offer the same high level of protection against pregnancy. They also all tend to lighten, shorten and regulate periods. The differences between them have to do with how the medication gets into your system:
- NuvaRing® is a clear, flexible vaginal ring which you insert and leave in for three weeks, and then take out for a one-week ring-free period.
- Ortho Evra® is a patch worn on the skin which you apply once a week for three weeks in a row. During week four, you do not wear a patch.
- Birth control pills are taken orally and must be taken every day to be maximally effective. They are available in a variety of brands, including some which offer "extended contraception"; and reduce your periods to just four times a year.
- DepoProvera® is a progesterone injection given every three months to prevent pregnancy. It is as effective as the pill, is very safe, and is the most discreet method of contraception available for women.
- An IUD (intrauterine device) is a soft, plastic T-shaped device which is placed inside the uterus and can be left in for 5-10 years. The ideal candidate for an IUD is a woman who is in a mutually monogamous long-term relationship, has had at least one child, and wants to delay childbearing for several years.
- The condom is the most popular contraceptive in the world and is the only method that offers protection against sexually transmitted infections in addition to preventing pregnancy.
- Emergency Contraception (Plan B®) is available if your primary method of birth control fails or you forget to use it. It is most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.
Here are some very helpful links that present additional information on birth control: