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27th October 2014

There are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to birth control options

You are young and in love. You and your husband have been enjoying life with your new baby, but you decide it’s time for a romantic get-away.

You are enjoying a carefree weekend, stay up a little later than normal, drink a little more than usual, sleep a little later that typical, and definitely have more sex than ever since the baby arrived.

And you forget to take your birth control pills.

Not that another baby is the worst thing, it’s just that you weren’t quite ready to do it again. So now you wait for a couple of stress-filled weeks to find out if baby number two is on the way.

By far the most common form of birth control used by women is the birth control pill, but it’s fraught with difficulties. Mainly, you have to remember to take it every day for it to work. Certain medications, like some antibiotics, can interfere with its efficacy. Some women would rather not add hormones into the mix.

Fortunately, the birth control pill isn’t the only option by a long shot. Let’s take a look at some alternatives.

Hormonal Birth Control Options

Hormone embedded IUD. This little T-shaped piece of plastic is inserted into the uterus and remains effective for 3-5 years depending on the brand used. Once placed by your health care provider, you don’t have to worry about it again. The device creates a hostile environment in the uterus, and the hormones it releases keep the lining of the uterus thin and unfriendly for implantation. At anytime you can have the IUD removed and fertility should resume rapidly.

The Patch. The birth control patch operates much the same as a nicotine patch, but releases hormones into your system instead of nicotine. Each of the first three weeks of your cycle you apply a new patch, and then you take a break during the fourth week. If you like the benefits of the pill but would prefer to only think about it weekly instead of daily, this could be a good option for you.

The Ring. This flexible ring is embedded with hormones, and you insert it into your vagina for three weeks at a time, with a one week break in between. The hormones it releases prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus, creating a barrier for sperm.

Non-hormonal Birth Control Options

Copper IUD. This little T-shaped device is covered in copper instead of hormones. The copper is toxic to sperm, making it unlikely those guys will survive to achieve their goal. In addition, these IUDs can stay in place for up to ten years.

Diaphragm with spermicide. The diaphragm is a little cap made of silicone or latex. You insert it into your vagina to cover your cervix prior to sexual intercourse. You should use it with a spermicide for it to be truly effective. It offers the advantage of not interfering with your body in any way except while you are having sex. The disadvantage is that you’ve got to be willing to stop what you’re doing and put it in. Anticipation is a good thing, right?

Condoms. Condoms are an excellent, safe and easy to use form of birth control. They do require that you use them properly to be most effective. The Bedsider offers excellent instructions for using a condom and lots of other helpful info about birth control in general. Remember, the condom is the only birth control method, other than I Have a Headache that prevents sexually transmitted infections. If either you or your partner is not monogamous, this is probably the method for you. Even if you are using one of the other options.

Tubal ligation or vasectomy. When you know you are done having babies, sterilization can have a very freeing effect on your sex life. No worries about pregnancy. No more need for birth control. No hormones.

The options are plentiful, it’s just a matter of figuring out which one is right for you.

Amy Rogers MD is not a practicing physician and nothing written here should be taken as medical advice from either Amy or This is MedTech. Medical decisions should be made with care in consultation with your health care provider.

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