The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first birth control pill in 1960. Since then, women have had the opportunity to control their reproductive health. But remembering to take a pill at the same time every day can be challenging for some. Luckily, we have come a long way in terms of contraceptive options. Plus, birth control is not only used to prevent pregnancy, but can also help decrease monthly bleeding, cramping and mood swings that can come with normal menstrual cycles.
Long-acting Reversible Contraceptive Options
Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are types of birth control that can provide contraception and cycle control for three to 10 years, depending on the type used. This seems like a long time, but they can be removed at any time without affecting fertility.
Nexplanon is a progesterone-only implant that is placed in the arm. You cannot see the implant, but you can feel a small bar under the skin. Nexplanon is currently approved for preventing pregnancy for three years. However, it can be removed at any time without affecting your fertility.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small, T-shaped implants that are placed inside the uterus. The IUD can be used to prevent pregnancy between three and 10 years, depending on the type of IUD used. Progesterone IUDs, such as Skyla, Lyletta, Kyleena and Mirena, also provide the added benefit of decreasing monthly bleeding and cramping.
The copper IUD, known under the brand name, ParaGard, is the only non-hormonal form of reversible birth control currently available. While this IUD is great for contraception, it does not improve your menstrual cycle.
You may be tired of taking a pill every day, want to accomplish a specific goal before starting your family or are tired of having a miserable period. Talk with your doctor about these options to find the one solution that is best for you.
If you would like to explore your birth control options, please talk with your primary care provider.
Ashley St. Germain, MD, provides general obstetrics and gynecological care at Samaritan Lebanon Health Center and specializes in robotic and laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies. She is passionate about patient education regarding reproductive and sexual health, contraception and healthy lifestyles.