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What Are My Birth Control Options?

My primary job as an OB/GYN specialist is to help my patients reach their reproductive goals; often, this includes helping my patients prevent pregnancy. The most important tool I have in this endeavor is contraception or “birth control.” There are a variety of birth control methods available, allowing the opportunity to choose what best suites you.

The most commonly used birth control method is “the pill.” There are two different groups of pills—those containing both estrogen and progesterone and those with progesterone alone. The combination estrogen/progesterone pills are the most common and are very effective if taken every day. They can be given to most women except those with migraine headaches, high blood pressure, blood clots, and those over 35 who smoke; in these patients, the progesterone-only pills may be a better choice.

If taking a pill every day is not for you, there are other options including vaginal inserts (NuvaRing), patches (Ortho Evra), and injections (Depo-Provera). Depo-Provera is a progesterone-containing injection given every three months.

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is an increasingly popular birth control method, which includes the implant (Nexplanon) and the IUD (Mirena and Paragard). These options are as effective as surgical sterilization, but are easily reversible if pregnancy is desired. The Mirena IUD and Nexplanon have the added benefit of reducing or eliminating menstrual bleeding. These devices are easily placed and removed in the office, and are effective for three, five, or 10 years.

Although far less effective, barrier contraception (condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps) is another birth control option. Of all the contraceptive options, condoms are the only method that can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV), although they are not 100% effective. Abstinence from sexual activity until you are in a committed and monogamous relationship is the most effective way to prevent both unintended pregnancy and spreading STDs.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Larson to discuss your birth control options in the Barnesville Area Clinic call 218.354.2111 or for Fergus Falls clinic appointments call 218.739.2221.

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