The Five Birth Control Methods

The Pill

Oral contraceptives offer a host of other benefits. They can often improve acne, decrease facial hair, decrease pain during your period and decrease the incidence of ovarian cysts.

These days, there are pills to help you reduce the amount of times you have a period a year. Some pills allow you to have four periods per year, like Seasonique, where others, such as Lybrel, only allow one. These Pills are still controversial, despite their FDA approval. Most doctors believe there's no scientific reason you need to have a period every month. The Pill was designed to give you one so it would gain approval from the public and from religious leaders - and to reassure women that they weren't pregnant.

Some ladies prefer to get the natural reminder each month. There are some great basic birth controls for this. For example: Yaz or Loestrin Fe 24 have 24 days of hormone pills, followed by four days of placebos to allow room for your menstrual cycle. The downfall of using this method: if you do not take your pill every day around the same time, you will be at risk of becoming pregnant.

The Ring

It is a small flexible contraceptive ring, about the size of a silver dollar. It is a two inch diameter ring that you must place inside the vagina. Nuvaring is inserted manually into the vagina, where it is left for three weeks. It releases pregnancy inhibiting hormones that last for a full month. Then the ring is removed for one week. This is the week you'll have your period. Common issues with the Nuvaring include: headaches, weight gain, nausea, or vaginal irritation.

The Patch

Ortho Evra, this skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, outer arm, or upper body. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining with the egg. You put on a new patch once a week for 3 weeks. You don't use a patch the fourth week in order to have a period.

The Shot

The birth control shot often is called by its brand name Depo-Provera. With this method you get injections, or shots, of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every 3 months. A new type is injected under the skin. The birth control shot stops the ovaries from releasing an egg in most women. It also causes changes in the cervix that keep the sperm from joining with the egg. Common side effects include but are not limited to: weight gain, weakness, tiredness, hot flashes, nervousness, irritability, and sensitivity to breast.

The IUD

An IUD is a small device shaped like a "T" that goes in your uterus. This method can become quite pricey even if your insurance covers part of it. There are two types:

  • Copper IUD or ParaGard. It releases a small amount of copper into the uterus, which prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. If fertilization does occur, the IUD keeps the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. A doctor needs to put in your copper IUD. It can stay in your uterus for 5 to 10 years.
  • Hormonal IUD or MIrena. It releases progestin into the uterus, which keeps the ovaries from releasing an egg and causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm can't reach the egg. It also affects the ability of a fertilized egg to successfully implant in the uterus. A doctor needs to put in a hormonal IUD. It can stay in your uterus for up to 5 years.