Contraception is any device or medication designed to reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy. When choosing the birth control that’s right for you, it’s important to consider your age, medical history, overall health, and overall level of sexual activity. At Discover Health in San Francisco, Dr. Radha Lewis can educate you on your options and help you find the method that fits your life. If you’re in the North Beach area and you’d like to know more about your contraception options, call or book your appointment online today.
What types of contraception are available?
The first step in making an informed choice about contraception is understanding what your options are. The five main categories of contraception include:
Hormonal contraception prevents ovulation so that eggs aren’t available for fertilization. The pill, shot, contraceptive patch, and vaginal ring are all common forms of hormonal birth control.
Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)
LARC methods include IUDs and implants. An IUD is a T-shaped device that’s placed in your uterus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg; it may release hormones to prevent ovulation, or copper ions to kill sperm. An implant is a tiny rod that’s placed in your upper arm, where it releases ovulation-preventing hormones.
This form of contraception blocks sperm from entering the uterus. Male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps are barrier methods, as are spermicidal foams and sponges.
Permanent contraception may be done surgically, with a tubal ligation, or nonsurgically, through the placement of an implant that permanently blocks the fallopian tubes.
A copper IUD and emergency contraceptive pills are the two most effective contraception methods for preventing pregnancy in the hours following unprotected sex or condom breakage.
What should I consider when choosing birth control?
After addressing any questions you may have about the advantages, drawbacks, and rate of effectiveness for each form of contraception, Dr. Lewis can help you choose the method that best meets your needs by considering the following factors:
- Your age, medical history, and current health
- Your sexual activity and number of partners
- Your future family planning desires
- Your level of comfort with the method
- Potential negative health effects
If you’re affected by heavy or irregular periods, for example, you may get the most benefit from a hormone-based contraceptive, which can make your periods lighter and more regular. If you’re not planning to start a family soon or you don’t want to think about contraception every day, an IUD may be your best choice.
What else is included in contraception counseling?
In addition to providing you with the information you need to make an informed choice about contraception, Dr. Lewis educates you on how to use the method you’ve chosen, because the rate of effectiveness for any form of contraception depends on proper use.
When used correctly, IUDs and implants are 99% effective, hormonal birth control shots are 94% effective, and hormonal patches, vaginal rings, and birth control pills are 91% effective.
Ask Dr. Lewis what you can do to ensure that the method you choose is as effective as possible. Call Discover Health or book an appointment online today.