The Ultimate Guide to Birth Control

Birth control has been around for decades. However, there have been very limited options until recently. Thanks to today’s medical advancements, there are plenty of options should you want to use birth control.  When it comes to deciding which type of birth control to use, it’s best to know all of your options, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Please talk to your doctor about which birth control works best for you.

Hormonal Implants

What is it? Hormonal implants are toothpick-sized tubes placed in the skin of the woman’s upper arm that contains a type of progestin hormone medicine called etonogestrel. In most cases, the implant is completely invisible. A health care provider must insert the implant, which costs about $280-$700, but some insurances may cover part or all of the cost.

Success Rate: 99%

Pros:  Hormonal implants are a long-term method of birth control, as they last for 3 years after insertion. A woman can also remove the implant whenever she would like. In many cases, a woman will experience light or no menstrual periods.

Cons:  Hormonal implants don’t protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).  In order to insert and remove the hormonal implant, a minor surgery is required, which could potentially lead to infection. Potential side effects include irregular menstrual cycles, depression, nervousness, hair loss and weight gain. 


Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)

What is it? An intra-uterine device is a device that is inserted unto the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are multiple types of IUDs. Mirena®, Skyla®, and Liletta™ all contain the hormone levonorgestrel, which is a form of progesterone, and continuously releases the hormone into the uterus. ParaGard®, also known as the Copper IUD, is hormone-free.  All IUDs prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix and changing a women’s menstrual cycle.  All IUDs have strings attached to them so you and your doctor are able to tell if it is properly inserted.  The average cost for an IUD is $150-$250, yet these prices may vary due to insurance. 

Success Rate:  99%

Pros:  IUD’s are extremely effective at protecting pregnancy long-term, for about 3 to 5 years depending on the device.  Once the IUD is inserted, a woman cannot feel the IUD. It is easy to remove, with a doctors visit, and you can get pregnant immediately after removal.

Cons:  The IUD does not protect against STI’s and it is not for women who are at high risk of receiving a STI.  In order to receive the device, you must see your health care provider.  The copper IUD can lead to menstrual cramping or longer menstrual periods.


Tubal Ligation (Female Sterilization)

What is it?  Tubal ligation is a huge decision that protects against pregnancy forever.  This method cannot be reversed. The procedure can be done in a variety of ways: through electrical current, a silicone band, or inserting a clip to the fallopian tube. This procedure often has no effect on your menstrual cycle.

Success rate: 99%

Pros:  Tubal ligation is extremely effective against pregnancy, long-term, as it is permanent.

Cons:  In order to have tubal ligation, you need to have minor surgery.  It is an expensive process, costing $1,000 to over $2,500, but the cost is covered for the rest of life.  Tubal ligation doesn’t protect against STIs.


Hormonal Injections

What is it? Depo-Provera is the female hormonal injection method of birth control.  It contains a synthetic version of progesterone called depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA). You can get an injection every three months to best protect against pregnancy. Depo-Provera costs about $30 to $100 per injection; however, the price may be different depending on your insurance.

Success rate: 94%

Pros:  Each injection provides 3 months of protection against pregnancy.  Often times, women stop getting their menstrual period while receiving injections.  Studies have also shown that hormonal injections protect against uterine cancer.

Cons: Hormonal injections don’t protect against STIs.


Birth Control Pills

What is it?  Oral contraceptives, also known as “the pill”, are female hormonal birth control method.  The pill are small pills that you swallow each day that contain two types of synthetic hormones: estrogen and progestin.

Success rate: 91%

Pros: If used correctly, the pill is very effective at preventing pregnancy.  In most women, menstrual periods appear to be more regular and lighter.  Other women experience less menstrual cramps and clearer skin. In addition, using the pill decreases a women’s risk of getting ovarian and uterine cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts and anemia.

Cons: Using the pill doesn’t protect women from STIs. When using the pill you must remember to take the pill every day at the same time. 


Vaginal Hormonal Ring (Nuva-Ring)

What is it?  The vaginal ring is a method of birth control containing both estrogen and progestin hormones. The ring, when inserted, releases hormones that are absorbed though the vaginal wall and enter the bloodstream to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs.

Success rate: 91%

Pros:  The vaginal ring is very effective in preventing pregnancy.  It is easily inserted and removed.  Many women who use the ring experience lighter periods, less cramps and clearer skin. 

Cons:  The vaginal ring does not protect against STIs. Some women experience nausea, increased appetite and/or headaches when using the vaginal ring.


Female Condom

What is it? It is a lubricated product worn by a female inside her vagina during sex.  Much like a male condom, it acts as a barrier to sperm and sexually transmitted infections.  The female condom has a ring at each end. The average cost of the female condom is $2.50 per condom.

Success rate? 79%

Pros:  The female condom provides protect against STIs and pregnancy. In addition, it can be inserted well before sexual activity so there is less interruption.

Cons: When inserted, the female condom may move, become noisy or become uncomfortable.  It is a single-use product.