June 7, 2016

What all women need to know about birth control


When given a choice of all birth control options, 75 percent of women choose IUDs and implants. Here’s why.

Are you certain you don’t want to become pregnant in the next year?

If you’re a woman currently able to bear children, the answer is important to know before your next medical appointment to talk about birth control.

Long-acting reversible contraception is the most effective option for all women, including teens, who do not wish to become pregnant for at least a year. Long-acting reversible contraception includes intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants that are inserted into the arm. Fewer than one pregnancy per 100 women is reported each year using these methods. For comparison, it’s 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women a year using male condoms and nine for the pill.

“Long-acting reversible contraceptives are the most effective contraception available in the U.S. and the majority of women can use them safely. These ‘get it and forget it’ methods allow women to space their pregnancies in a way that is best for them and their families,” said Jessica Lauren Young, M.D., of Vanderbilt Women’s Health.

IUDs work for up to 10 years, depending on the type, and the implant works for up to three. It is important to note that neither protect women from sexually transmitted disease infections. Male condoms are the best way, aside from abstaining from sex, to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

Myths abound about long-acting reversible contraception. Here are important facts to consider:

Current IUDs and implants are safe.

They do not increase the risk for infection or cause infertility. Serious complications are possible, but very rare. The “reversible” in the term “long-acting reversible contraceptives” means you can have the implant or IUD removed if you want to get pregnant.

Having an IUD inserted feels similar to having a menstrual cramp.

If you decide to get an IUD, talk with your doctor first about taking an over-the-counter pain medicine.

Long-acting reversible contraception is not just for women who are done having children.

They are the best choice for many women, including adolescents, because they are safe, effective and reversible.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives beat pills, patches, and rings.

Over the long term, long-acting reversible contraceptives are 20 times better at preventing pregnancy than pills, patches or the ring. Once they are in place, you do not have to do anything else to prevent pregnancy; but, again, they DO NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so you also need to use condoms.

Your insurance may cover the costs of long-acting reversible contraceptives.

Most insurance plans now cover long-acting reversible contraceptives, including having them put in and taken out, with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.

This birth control is the most popular among well-informed women.

When given information about the safety and effectiveness of birth control, 3 out of 4 women choose this method.