How We Can Help
Birth Control Treatment Information
At Indiana University Health, we offer comprehensive birth control options, including:
- Implantable uterine devices (IUDs). IUDs, such as the levonorgestrel or the copper IUD, are the most effective and safest form of birth control. An IUD is a small, T-shaped device placed in your uterus during a simple procedure in your physician’s office. You may have some cramping after the procedure, but it should fade quickly. Once the IUD is in place, it will not move and you and your partner will not be able to feel it. Though some women will have irregular bleeding for three to six months, many women with the levonorgestrel IUD will have little to no menstrual flow after they have had the IUD for one year. Women with the copper IUD may experience slightly heavier periods initially, but will continue to have one period every month. IUDs last for five to ten years, but you can have it removed any time you are ready to try to become pregnant.
- Birth control implants. Birth control implants offer long-term birth control through a small rod that is placed in your arm at your doctor’s office. The rod releases hormones into your body that stops your body from releasing an egg. Birth control implants last for three years, but you can have it removed any time you are ready to try to become pregnant. Though you may have irregular bleeding for the first six months, many women have light or nonexistent periods while using the implant.
- Birth control pills. The birth control pill is the most recognized form of birth control. The pill contains hormones to keep your body from releasing an egg. However, the pill is only effective if you take it regularly each day. Some side effects of the birth control pill may include headaches, nausea, elevated blood pressure or a change in sex drive. Because there are many different types of birth control pills, you should talk to your doctor about finding a new pill or another form of birth control if you experience a side effect.
- Injectable birth control. If the pill does not work well for you, you can also receive hormones through an injection every three months. These injections work the same as birth control pills, though some women experience irregular bleeding while using the injection.
- Birth control patch. The birth control patch works similarly to the birth control pill. It releases hormones into your body that help you keep from becoming pregnant. You wear the patch for three weeks, then do not wear the patch for one week when you will have your period. You will need to replace the patch once a week on the same day for it to be most effective. The birth control patch has similar side effects and risks as the pill.
- Birth control ring. The birth control ring works like the pill and the patch, releasing hormones for three weeks out of the month to keep you from becoming pregnant. To use the ring, you insert it deep into your vagina and leave it there for three weeks. You will remove the ring for a week when you will have your period, then insert a new ring. The ring has the same benefits, side effects and risks as the birth control pill.
- Sponge. The sponge is not widely used anymore. It is a small foam sponge that you insert into your vagina before you have sex. The sponge contains spermicide, which kills sperm, and also blocks sperm from entering your cervix. The sponge is less effective than the birth control methods listed above, especially if used incorrectly. The sponge does not affect your hormones and can be worn for up to 30 hours. However, you should not wear the sponge for longer than 30 hours or you will be at risk of toxic shock syndrome. Your doctor can teach you how to use the sponge correctly.
- Emergency contraception. Commonly called the morning-after pill or Plan B, emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy if taken within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex. For the most effective protection against pregnancy, you should take emergency contraception within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Emergency contraception should not be relied on as your main form of birth control. You may experience side effects like vomiting, headaches or an abnormal period after taking emergency contraception. You can get some emergency contraception pills without a prescription at pharmacies, while other pills require a prescription.
- Male condoms. Male condoms are latex pouches worn on the penis. It creates a barrier during sex that helps prevent sperm from getting through. Latex or plastic condoms prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Even if you use one of the birth control methods above, you should use a condom to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are widely available at grocery stores, pharmacies and many health clinics. They are not expensive and easy to use, but can only be used once.
- Female condoms. Female condoms are similar to male condoms, except they are inserted into the vagina. Female condoms cost slightly more than male condoms. They cannot be reused. They protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases when used correctly.
No matter what form of birth control you use, you should see your doctor to be screened for sexually transmitted infections on a regular basis.
If you are not having any more children, you can talk to your doctor about more permanent forms of birth control, such as:
- Vasectomy. During a vasectomy, a surgeon cuts the vas deferens, a tube that carries sperm to become part of semen. Without sperm, you cannot get a woman pregnant. It takes a few months for vasectomies to be fully effective. Vasectomies cannot be reversed in most instances. Vasectomies are safe procedures with few complications and provide effective permanent birth control.
- Tubal ligation. Tubal ligation blocks the fallopian tubes, preventing eggs from reaching the uterus and sperm from reaching eggs. You have many options for tubal ligation, such as having your fallopian tubes cut and tied or having materials placed into your tubes during a minimally invasive procedure in your doctor’s office. You should talk to your doctor about what form of tubal ligation is right for you. Tubal ligation is safe and effective, providing permanent birth control. Some forms of tubal ligation take a few months to be fully effective.
Birth Control Locations & Physicians
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Birth Control Support Services
Learn more about birth control at these websites:
A Sampling of Birth Control Support Services
The Planned Parenthood website includes information on all forms of birth control and answers commonly asked questions about each contraception method.
This website covers many women’s health topics and includes fact sheets on the effectiveness of different types of birth control.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
Visit this site for news, research and statistics about birth control methods.