Gynecologic Health — Contraception

Many women visit our clinic to learn more about their contraceptive options. Unfortunately, none of today’s methods is perfect. All methods of contraception have side effects. All can fail, some more often than others. Most methods involve some cost. All involve some amount of care and attention.

Any of the physicians or nurse practitioners at Women’s Health Consultants will be happy to discuss your questions and concerns about the many birth control options that are available. Before your visit, take time to read this page so that together we can focus on what method is best for you.

How to choose a birth control method

When choosing a contraceptive method, it’s helpful to think about what aspect of contraception is most important to you. Are you most concerned about effectiveness? Are you most concerned about cost? Are you most concerned about ease of use? Are you afraid you will forget to use your method? Do you want a long-term, short-term, or permanent method? Once you’ve figured out your priorities, you’ll have a better idea of how to look at all the methods that are available.

A great resource that provides quick tables for method comparison is available at this Website: Managing Contraception. Here you’ll find great information on all the methods, as well as strategies to help you choose your method. 

A few corrections to this on-line resource: sponges (page 13) are available again, and the guide does not discuss the Essure® method, a permanent, nonsurgical procedure. Check the Website at www.essure.com for more information.

Condom use

No matter what method you choose, you should plan to use condoms together with that method with any new partner, or any time you believe you might be at risk for getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Most birth control methods will not protect you from an STI. If condoms are used as your only method, they can be an effective form of birth control, although they can fail to prevent pregnancy as often as 10% to 15% of the time.

Emergency contraceptive options

If you are 17 or older, you may go to any pharmacy and purchase a pill without a prescription that will prevent pregnancy if you have just had unprotected intercourse. (This is not the same as the abortion pill.) This medication is marketed under the names Plan B and Next Choice. You will have to ask the pharmacist for them and show identification to establish your age. These pills work best in the first 24 hours after unprotected intercourse and reduce the average risk of pregnancy among users from 8% to 1%. These pills provide protection against pregnancy if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex. There are no scientific data to suggest that there would be an increased risk of birth defects or miscarriages if the pill fails or if a woman who is already pregnant takes it.

There is also a new pill that provides protection for up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse called Ella. Ella is only available by prescription, and you may call our office during office hours to get a prescription for Ella. You may also call our office for a Plan B prescription (during office hours) if you are under 17, or if you need a prescription in order to have your cost covered by your health savings account (HSA).