What are oral contraceptives?
Oral contraceptives are birth control pills that you typically take daily. Oral contraceptives work by releasing a steady dose of hormones — estrogen, progestin, or both — into your body. There are two main kinds of oral contraceptives.
Combination pills, the most popular option, contain both estrogen and progestin. They prevent ovulation, thin your uterine lining, and thicken your cervical mucus. The other main option, the mini pill, contains only progestin. It doesn’t stop ovulation but does thicken cervical mucus and causes uterine shedding.
There are many options within these two categories. You can choose to have periods every month, or just a few times a year, based on the type of pill selected. If you take oral contraceptives in the optimal way, at the same time every day without fail, they’re 99% effective. But, with typical use, effectiveness drops to 91%.
What is an intrauterine device (IUD)?
An IUD is a long-lasting contraceptive device that your OB-GYN implants in your uterus during an outpatient procedure. There are two types of IUDs, copper and hormonal.
Copper IUDs like ParaGard® prevent pregnancy because they contain a copper wire coil that repels and destroys sperm. ParaGard prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years.
Hormonal IUDs, which include Mirena®, Liletta®, Skyla®, and Kyleena®, release the hormone progestin gradually into your body. They work by preventing ovulation and thickening your cervical mucus to block sperm. Skyla lasts up to three years, Kyleena for five years, and Mirena and Liletta for up to seven years.
IUDs are over 99% effective and require no real maintenance. Your Lievano Perez Obstetrics and Gynecology of Miami OB-GYN will monitor your IUD during your checkups to ensure that it’s in place and working properly.
What are my other options for birth control?
There are a number of other birth control options, both short-term and long-term. Short-term options include:
- Vaginal ring: 98% effective, changed every month
- Birth control shots: 94-99% effective, shots every three months
- Birth control patch: 92-99% effective, changed every three weeks
These methods work for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, so consistency is crucial to prevent pregnancy.
Another long-term option for birth control is the Nexplanon® implant. Nexplanon prevents pregnancy for up to three years and is over 99% effective.