Birth control can be used for a variety of reasons, including regulating hormones, controlling your menstrual cycle and preventing pregnancy. With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which is right for you. Kim C. Brooks, MD, FACOG, and Michelle R. Lemberger, MD, FACOG, of Women’s Healthcare of Morristown answer some questions on contraception to help you make the right choice.
What are some of the most effective forms of contraception, and why?
Some of the most effective forms of contraception are long-term, reversible methods like the intrauterine device (IUD) and contraceptive implants. Both of these options are 99 percent effective for the prevention of pregnancy because they don’t require a woman to remember to do something in a timely manner. You can’t “forget” your birth control with these implants.
Sterilization, such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, is over 99 effective for the prevention of pregnancy but is meant to be permanent. Every form of contraception, including sterilization, can result in pregnancy. Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method for preventing pregnancy.
Why might you choose one method of birth control over another?
Personal preference tends to be the primary reason one contraceptive is chosen over another. Side effects and risk factors are also important considerations. In general, empowering women with information and education about the various contraceptive options, proper usage for effectiveness and potential side effects allows them to make a good personal decision. When women can make choices for themselves with guidance from a medical professional, they tend to be happier with their choice and this translates to better and more effective contraceptive use.
What is the safest form of contraception?
All forms of contraception have risks that vary based on the form of contraception and the user’s medical history. In general, contraception is safer than pregnancy because there are risks associated with pregnancy such as hypertension, infection, hemorrhage and death. The decision about the safest method of birth control for a user should be made in conjunction with a health care provider based on the user’s medical history and personal preferences.
Rarely, IUDs can alter fertility secondary to a severe pelvic infection known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can result from acquiring a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhea or chlamydia with an IUD in place. IUDs can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus and can cause internal bleeding, internal hemorrhage or death. If detected early enough, ectopic pregnancy can be treated with medication; however, if there is significant internal bleeding or the pregnancy is large, surgery is required. Surgery can result in the loss of a fallopian tube or an ovary depending on the location of the ectopic pregnancy, which can diminish fertility.
Are there any myths about the effect contraception has on fertility?
In general, contraception does not impact future fertility. Fertility typically returns to normal after discontinuation of contraception. However, contraception is often used for the management of menstrual cycle irregularities or abnormalities. Patients with abnormal menstrual cycles may already have impaired fertility; therefore, it is not the birth control altering fertility. If a user desires a rapid return to fertility after discontinuation of contraceptives, a contraceptive injectable (medroxyprogesterone acetate) should not be used, as it can affect menstrual cycles for up to a year after the last injection.
Fertility declines with age. A long-term user of contraception who began contraception in her early twenties will not have the same fertility when she stops using contraception in her mid to late thirties.
To learn about your birth control options and what is right for you, call (423) 492-7100 to schedule an appointment with an OB-GYN at Women’s Healthcare of Morristown.