There are some alarming statistics about the percentage of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. Namely, about 50% of pregnancies are unintended. More importantly, of those unintended pregnancies, about 43% percent occurred in women who were using some sort of birth control at the time they became pregnant although maybe not consistently or correctly. It is striking that a little less than half of women who ended up unintentionally pregnant did not really want to be pregnant and thought they were doing something to help avoid pregnancy. As precious as a child is, an unplanned pregnancy can be life altering. I look forward to the privilege of taking care of any of you who become pregnant, but it is also important for me to help give you all the ability to time your pregnancies in a way that fits with your stage of life, goals, and desires.
The advantages of these types of birth control is that they are highly effective and require no ongoing commitment from the user to remain effective.
When we evaluate the effectiveness of different forms of birth control, there is a measure of how well each birth control prevents pregnancy with “perfect use” and with “average use”. Depending on the type of birth control, these numbers can be quite different. Birth controls that require the person using it to remember and to do something either every day or every time they have intercourse are only as effective as the commitment of the person using it to adhere to the regimen. Once we factor in the human component into certain kinds of birth control, their effectiveness can diminish. Some types of birth control require more participation from the user to work properly. We are human, and some of us need birth control that can account for that. With all the demands for our attention each day be it work, school, kids, a spouse, a pet, working out, making meals, catching up with The Kardashians (insert mindless TV of choice), you name it, it can be difficult to save some mental energy for remembering birth control. Fortunately, there are some options available that can offer effective birth control over a longer period of time ranging between 3 to 10 years depending on the type. These long acting reversible contraceptive methods provide excellent birth control while they are in place and are removable and non-permanent. In addition, these forms of birth control do not contain estrogen unlike most of the available birth control pills, which may be a benefit for women who need to avoid estrogen because of preference, intolerance, or because of certain medical conditions.
There are 2 types of intrauterine devices and a contraceptive implant that fit into this category of “forgettable contraception”. The advantages of these types of birth control is that they are highly effective and require no ongoing commitment from the user to remain effective. The Copper380A or ParaGard intrauterine device is small flexible T shaped device with copper wire wrapped around the arms. Once it is placed inside the uterus in the office, it is immediately effective with a 99.2% effectiveness in the first year and 99.4-99.7% beyond the first year with typical use. The ParaGard contains no hormones. It is approved for up to 10 years of birth control but can be removed at any point before then. The levonorgestrel intrauterine device marketed under the name Mirena is also a small flexible T-shaped device that releases a small amount of a form of progesterone called levonorgestrel each day. It is placed in the uterus at an office visit, is immediately effective, and can provide highly effective birth control (> 99.9%) for up to 5 years. Like the ParaGard, it can be removed at any time. Additionally, the FDA has approved its use for birth control and decreased menstrual flow to treat heavy periods. Finally, the Nexplanon contraceptive implant is a small thin rod placed under the skin of the inner upper arm. It releases a small amount of the progesterone etonorgestrel daily for up to 3 years of use. The Nexplanon is placed and removed in the office with a little local anesthesia and is 99.9% effective similar to the IUD.
These types of birth control are approved for a wide variety of patients. If you think they sound like a type of birth control you are interested in, please schedule an appointment so we can discuss birth control options and review your health history, medications, family planning wishes, and talk in more detail about the benefits and risks of each method. Together we can choose the best option for you.