It is not one size fits all when it comes to methods to plan your family. You have options. Your doctor can help you decide what may be the best option for you.
Methods for planning your family include:
- Natural methods - use the timing of intercourse around the women's menstrual cycle
- Temporary methods – usually are hormonal and involve regulating the women's ovulation with a pill, patch or injection
- Barrier methods – use a spermicide with or without a condom or diaphragm
- Semi-permanent or long-lasting methods – use implants such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) or capsules
- Permanent methods – use tubal ligation (same day surgery), Essure® - an outpatient, in-office procedure -- or vasectomy (for men)
"For a patient considering her options for planning a family, I like to get a sense of what would fit best with her lifestyle and family goals," said OB/GYN Specialist Amy Lysy, M.D., Marshfield Clinic Eau Claire Center. "If she is not using birth control, is she trying to become pregnant or needing a way to prevent unintended pregnancy? If she is done having children, I will ask about her menstrual cycle, problems with heavy periods and if she is considering permanent birth control methods. "
Depending on the information shared, methods such as sterilization, which is permanent, or IUDs, which can last five to 10 years, may be eliminated.
"For hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, we need to know if she is a candidate for the estrogen hormone," said Dr. Lysy. "Oral contraceptives are the most common form prescribed, but certain medical conditions can preclude their use."
Other factors that play into finding the best option include how the product is used, religious beliefs and partner willingness. The act of using the product may interfere with the couple's intimacy, or a partner may not wish to use a condom. "I try to focus on what my patient feels is important," she said.
Besides preventing pregnancy, contraceptives also can help to achieve other goals such as clearing complexion, regulating menstrual flow and decreasing cramping.
Interest is growing in sterilization, particularly in the Essure procedure. "Women seem to be searching for a non-hormonal, non-surgical option that is effective with their lifestyle," said Dr. Lysy.
Known medically as transcervical sterilization, it eliminates the need for general anesthesia and an incision. "This method can be done during an office visit and greatly reduces the recovery time that is customary to methods such as tubal ligation or for men, vasectomy," said Dr. Lysy.
An insert is placed within the woman's fallopian tubes. It promotes tissue growth around it, forming a permanent, natural barrier. A three-month follow-up procedure confirms that the tubes are indeed obstructed.
Dr. Lysy reminds patients that despite the myriad of options for planning your family, only abstinence is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. "If you are unhappy with your current form of birth control or are interested in learning what other options are available, I encourage you to discuss contraceptive choices with your provider," she said.