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 woman’s menstrual cycle
Temporary methods – usually are hormonal and involve regulating the woman’s ovulation with a pill, a patch or an 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 patients considering their options for planning a family, I start the discussion with a couple of questions,” said OB/GYN Specialist John Twelmeyer, M.D., Marshfield Clinic Eagle River, Minocqua and Park Falls Centers. “Do you want to keep your childbearing options open? If so – how soon do you want to conceive?”
Answers to these questions may eliminate some methods such as sterilization, which is permanent, or IUDs, which can last five to 10 years.
“For hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, we need to know if the woman is a candidate,” said Dr. Twelmeyer. “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 participate in the option, such as using a condom,” said Dr. Twelmeyer. “Both reactions will eliminate some options.”
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. “Many patients are becoming familiar with the in-office procedure and requesting it,” Dr. Twelmeyer said.
Known medically as transcervical sterilization, it eliminates the need for general anesthesia and an incision. “This method greatly reduces the recovery time that is customary to methods such as tubal ligation,” he said.
An insert is placed within the women’s fallopian tubes. It promotes tissue growth around it, forming a permanent barrier. “A three-month follow-up procedure confirms that the tubes are indeed obstructed,” said Dr. Twelmeyer. “No other birth control method provides this type of follow-up or reassurance that the blockage is complete and permanent.”
Dr. Twelmeyer 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 not using birth control and choose to be sexually active, maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “This means eating right, staying healthy and fit in general, and avoiding smoking, drug use and excessive use of alcohol.”