Your care team at the UT Health Austin Women’s Health Institute is here to advise you on available contraception methods to help you choose the one that is right for you. Birth control, or contraception, is the term used to describe a medication or device used to prevent pregnancy. Choosing the “best” type of birth control for you requires that you know a little about each method, how it works and whether you and your partner will feel comfortable using that method. To decide which birth control method is right for you, read about each type and discuss the options with your physician.
Below include reversible birth control methods we offer:
Oral contraceptive pills
Numerous forms of oral contraceptive pills exist. They work mostly by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg by the ovaries). Most pills are made of two hormones called estrogen and progestin. They can differ both in the type of hormones they contain as well as in the amounts of hormone they contain. Oral contraceptive pills are taken on a daily basis and, when used correctly, are approximately 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
The pill may reduce cramping and shorten the number of days of bleeding during the menstrual period. The pill may also help lessen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some common side effects of birth control pills are nausea, headaches, breast tenderness and bloating. Most symptoms typically improve after using the pill for two or three months.
Vaginal contraceptive ring
The vaginal contraceptive ring, or NuvaRing®, is a thin, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina. The ring slowly releases hormones into the body through the vagina that prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries). When used properly, the vaginal ring is approximately 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. These hormones are the same ones used in most birth control pills. The ring is left in the vagina for 3 weeks. It doesn’t have to be in a specific position in the vagina. You remove the ring after 3 weeks and your period will start. After 7 days, you insert a new ring. The vaginal ring’s side effects are similar to those of the pill.
The hormonal IUD goes by a variety of different brand names including Liletta. It releases levonorgestrel (progestin) into the uterus and causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm can’t reach the egg. It is effective for up to 5 years after placement, but can be removed anytime with immediate return to fertility. The levonorgestrel IUD is approximately 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
There are two types of condoms: male and female condoms. A new condom must be used each time before intercourse. When used appropriately, condoms are approximately 97% effective in preventing pregnancy and are also the only contraceptive devices that can protect against the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. The male condom should be applied to the penis when the penis is erect. Female condoms are places inside the vagina and then unrolled out to the labia.
Emergency contraception consists of taking a pill as soon as possible after having unprotected intercourse. They work by delaying the ovaries from releasing an egg. The pills are available without a prescription at most drug stores. The copper IUD can also be used as a method of emergency contraception and then can continue to be used thereafter for contraception.
If you have medical factors that may that complicate your contraception options, we also provide alternative methods of contraception including but not limited to long acting reversible contraception and sterilization. Patients who may benefit from our complex contraception services may have:
- History of or current cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Seizure disorders
- Rheumatologic disease
- Pediatric patients or developmental delay
- Transplantation or dialysis
- Taking teratogenic medications (medications that may cause birth defects in the event of pregnancy), such as Accutane
- Clotting or bleeding disorder
- Spinal cord injury
- Uterine anomaly
- Difficult IUD or implant removals or insertions
- Dissatisfaction or side effects from previous or current contraceptive methods