Trying to avoid getting pregnant when you don’t want to be can feel like a big challenge sometimes. Maybe you already know that you don’t react well to hormonal birth control options, such as the standard birth control pill. Or maybe you’re breastfeeding and don’t want the possible effects of hormonal birth control to interfere with your milk production.
However, you have many alternatives to hormonal birth control. You don’t have to just accept that your choices are either celibacy or risking getting pregnant again. Here, Monique Petteys, FNP-C, of The Women’s Center at Life Point Medical explains more about your options.
Barrier methods of birth control are perhaps the easiest to use, and they don’t come with too many side effects. However, what you trade off for convenience is a lower effectiveness rate, although much of that accounts for “typical use.” Barrier methods physically prevent the sperm and egg from meeting.
Barrier methods include the following:
- Male or female condoms
- Cervical caps
- The sponge
Carefully following all the instructions about how to use barrier methods increases their success rate.
Phexxi is a newer vaginal gel that can prevent pregnancy. It must be inserted in your vagina prior to sex; it won’t be effective if used after you have sex.
The way it works is by lowering the pH level in your vagina, which makes it less receptive to sperm. It creates a hostile environment for semen, so pregnancy is very unlikely to occur. According to Planned Parenthood, Phexxi is 93% effective with perfect use. Allowing for human errors, it’s actually more like 86% effective.
Phexxi doesn’t prevent STIs like condoms do, but it is safe for use while breastfeeding.
The ParaGard IUD is an intrauterine device. Unlike what your perceptions of IUDs may be, ParaGard is safe, doesn’t contain hormones, and is intended for long-term use. Most women use an IUD until they want to get pregnant again.
It’s safe for about 12 years, at which point you may want to replace it if you still wish to prevent pregnancy. Like Phexxi, an IUD offers no protection against STIs, so you want to use condoms in addition if you’re concerned about STIs.
The “mini pill”
The mini pill is hormonal but only contains progestin, as compared to the regular birth control pill, which contains synthetic estrogen as well.
This can be a good option for women who are breastfeeding. It can also work well for women who can’t take estrogen-based contraceptives, such as those who are at higher risk of developing blood clots or those who smoke.
This is an option many couples choose when they’re finished building their families.
Male sterilization is called a vasectomy. It’s a very minor procedure usually performed on an outpatient basis with minimal recovery time. It’s also reversible, so if you or your partner change your mind about having more kids, it may still be possible.
Female sterilization is called tubal ligation. This procedure ties off the ends of your Fallopian tubes, so eggs can’t make it down to unite with sperm. However, it’s considered permanent and is a much more invasive procedure than a vasectomy.
Many women choose to get their tubes tied at the same time when they give birth, especially if they’re already undergoing a C-section.
If you are looking for a different birth control method, schedule a consultation with Monique Petteys at The Women’s Center at Life Point Medical. Simply click here to request an appointment.