Editor’s note: This story contains content that may be of a sensitive nature.
Some of the most important choices you'll ever make involve creating
a family. Do you want to have children? When? How many?
If you want to postpone parenthood, you'll also need to decide which
birth control method to use. It's a long list.
There are options for women and men. Some focus on the body's natural
rhythms. Some involve physical barriers. Others manipulate hormones. Some
can't be reversed.
Understanding what's available is the first step in deciding which
method is right for you. Common options include:
Natural family planning. This involves having sex only on days when getting pregnant is least likely.
Making that determination requires closely tracking a woman's menstrual
cycle, body temperature and other physical changes. It can be complicated,
so talk with your doctor first.
Male condoms. These thin latex sheaths are worn by men to block sperm from reaching
the egg. Available over the counter, they're thrown away after one
use. Condoms sometimes cause irritation or allergic reactions. They can
also break or leak if used incorrectly.
Diaphragm with spermicide. Worn by women, a diaphragm is a flexible, dome-shaped disk designed to
block sperm from reaching an egg. To be sure the device fits properly,
a doctor's exam is required. Spermicides, chemicals that deactivate
sperm, are always used with these devices. Spermicides come as gels, foams
or creams and are available without a prescription. Risks associated with
a diaphragm include irritation, allergic reactions and minor infections.
If the diaphragm is left in place too long, a rare but much more serious
infection is possible.
Oral contraceptives. Swallowed once a day, these prescription pills contain hormones that prevent
women from becoming pregnant. There are several varieties, and each works
somewhat differently. Talk with your doctor to see which type might be
best for you. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, weight gain
and changes in the menstrual cycle. In certain cases, the pill can cause
high blood pressure. In rare instances, it may lead to blood clots, heart
attacks or strokes.
Other hormone-related options. Pregnancy-preventing hormones can also be delivered through injections,
a skin patch, or a device placed in the uterus (called an intrauterine
device, or IUD) or inserted into the vagina (vaginal ring).
Permanent birth control. Men and women who never want children—or who decide against expanding
their current family—can have surgery to make future pregnancies
virtually impossible. Typically, these methods—which include vasectomies
and tubal ligations—cannot be reversed.
All birth control options have pros and cons.
Campbell County Clinics—OB GYN Specialists encourages you to speak with your doctor to find the one that is best
for you. Visit
ccmh.net/OBGYN to schedule an appointment or read about the Clinic’s doctors.
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Food and Drug Administration