Contraceptive (Birth Control) Options


Barrier Options: Condoms, Spermicides, Diaphragm, Sponge, Cervical cap

How they work: Barrier contraception works by blocking¬† sperm from reaching the women’s egg. Also offer protection from sexually transmitted infections. Barrier contraception does not affect female hormones, or breast milk production.

Most can be purchased at drug stores, Diaphragm and cervical caps must be fitted and prescribed by your health care provider. Diaphragms and cervical caps are rarely used.

Effectiveness: Not as effective as other forms of contraception. Approximately 18 to 28 women out of 100 will become pregnant using barrier contraception.

Use: Must be used correctly and with every act of sex. If not use correctly, or forgotten, may require use of emergency contraception (Plan B). A single act of unprotected sex can result in a pregnancy.

Spermicides require a 10-15 min waiting time before having intercourse. Can cause vaginal burning or irritation. The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours prior to sex, must be left in for 6 hours after sex. Do not leave the sponge for longer than 30hours.


Progesterone Only Forms: Pills, Injection

How they work: Thicken cervical mucus, thin the lining of the uterus, prevent ovulation.

Can be used in women with certain health concerns such as hypertension, migraine headaches, endometriosis, seizure disorders

Effectiveness of Pill form: Must be taken at the same time every day, if late taking by 3hrs or more must use back up contraception such as condoms for 2-3 days. About 40% of women on progesterone only pills will continue to ovulate.

Injection form: Given every 13 weeks in your health care providers office. You have a 2-week window to receive injection.

Effectiveness: With perfect use 1 out of 100 women will become pregnant, otherwise about 6 out of 100 women will become pregnant due to being late receiving next injection.

Benefits: Better at thinning lining of uterus, possibility of no menstrual cycles, can improve menstrual bleeding due to fibroids, can help with the pain associated with endometriosis.

Possible side effects: Irregular menstrual cycles, headache, nausea, breast tenderness, bone loss (injection)

Combination Forms (estrogen/progesterone): Pills, Patch and Vaginal Ring

How they work:  Stop ovulation, thicken cervical mucus, thin lining of uterus. Very effective if use correctly.

Effectiveness: With typical use 9 out of 100 women will become pregnant. With consistent correct use 1 out of 100 women will become pregnant.

Benefits: Can regulate, shorten, lighten menstrual periods, reduce menstrual cramps, may improve acne, may help reduce unwanted hair growth, decreases risk of breast, ovarian, colon cancer, may help menstrual migraines.

Not recommended in women who have migraines with aura, women age 35 and smoking.

Possible side effects: Breast tenderness, nausea, headache, vaginal irritation (ring), skin irritation (patch), breakthrough bleeding.

Long Term Reversible Contraception: Nexplanon subdermal implant, Skyla IUD, Mirena IUD, Paragard IUD.

How they work: The Nexplanon, Skyla and Mirena IUD have progestin hormone. A Progestin thins the lining of the uterus which helps prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, thickens cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to reach the egg, stops ovulation.

Nexplanon, and Skyla last 3 years, Mirena last for 5 years.

The Paragard IUD is non-hormonal it has a thin copper wire wrapped around the T shape. Copper acts as a spermicide, the Paragard also thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to fertilize an egg, it also irritates the lining of the uterus helping prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.

Paragard last for 10 years.

Effectiveness:  Most effective forms of contraception with less than 1 in 100 women becoming pregnant. Twenty times more effective than the pill, patch, ring forms of contraception.

Benefits: Hormonal IUD’s help reduce menstrual cramps and heavy menstrual bleeding. Can be used after a childbirth, abortion, miscarriage. Does not interfere with breastfeeding, physical activity or intercourse.

Paragard is the most effective form of emergency contraception. Possible side effects: With Paragard IUD, menstrual pain and bleeding may increase. Bleeding between periods may occur. These can be common in the first few months of use. Pain and heavy bleeding usually decrease within 1 year of use. Ectopic pregnancy is another possible side effect.

The Hormonal IUDs may cause spotting and irregular bleeding in the first 3 to 6 months of use. The amount of menstrual bleeding and the length of the menstrual period usually decrease over time. Menstrual pain also usually decreases. Some women may experience an absence of menstrual bleeding with hormonal IUDs.

If you are interested in any contraception, or have more questions, please schedule an appointment to discuss further.

Catherine Monhollen FNP-BC