Contraceptives & Birth Control
Few choices in life are more important than family planning. Whether you are planning to prepare for or prevent pregnancy, Dr. Ward is a family practitioner who provides options to accomplish your family planning goals.
Contraception, also called “birth control,” is defined as any method used to prevent pregnancy. There are several options of birth control that are available to couples that would like to prevent pregnancy. Dr. Ward reviews health history and provides recommendations based on overall health and patient needs.
The main types of birth control are:
- Continuous Abstinence
- Natural Family Planning/ Rhythm Method
- Barrier Methods
- Hormonal Methods
- Implantable Device
The only 100% effective form of birth control without surgery is abstinence, which is the choice to refrain from sexual contact. This is the most basic, yet most effective form of birth control.
Natural Family Planning/ Rhythm Method
With this form of family planning, couples become familiar with the woman’s menstrual cycle. When planning to become pregnant, couples plan on having sex during the most fertile days of the menstrual cycle which are about 5 days before and 3 days after ovulation.
When couples are preventing pregnancy, they avoid having sex during the most fertile days and also use other forms of birth control, like the barrier method.
As the name suggests, the Barrier Method of birth control prevents pregnancy by creating a barrier to prevent sperm from entering the uterus and reaching the egg of the female. Barrier methods include:
- Male or Female Condoms
- Contraceptive sponges
- Cervical Cap
Barrier methods are used each time the couple has sex. Some barrier methods can cause allergic reactions in some women so it is important to monitor the use of any of these methods of contraception at the onset.
The hormonal method of birth control prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation which is the release of an egg by the ovaries. Ovulation is averted by releasing the hormones estrogen and/or progestin into the woman’s body. The hormone may be introduced through a:
- Vaginal ring
- Hormone shot
- Hormone implant
- Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Each of these hormonal methods of contraception have advantages and disadvantages. In some women, the introduction of hormones may cause side effects and should be carefully monitored. Dr. Ward will identify and prescribe the best possible solutions that best suit each patient’s individual need.
Implantable contraception are devices that are inserted into the woman’s body that either provide a barrier or a steady release of substances that prevent pregnancy. The two implantable devices include:
- Implantable RodThe Implantable rod is a flexible matchstick sized device that is placed under the skin in the upper arm. This devise is a hormonal devise that releases a steady amount of progestin that changes the lining of the uterus and cervical mucus to prohibit the sperm from joining the egg.
- Intrauterine DeviceThe intrauterine device (IUD) is a small device shaped like a “T” that works as a barrier to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. There are two types of IUDs, copper and hormonal.
The copper IUD releases copper and the hormonal IUD releases the hormone progestin into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Permanent birth control is performed through either an implant or surgical procedure of the male or female. These procedures include:
- Sterilization Implant (Female Non-Surgical Procedure)
- Tubal Ligation (Female Surgical Procedure)
- Vasectomy (Male Surgical Procedure)
The sterilization implant, a devise is attached to the fallopian tube, causes the buildup of scar tissue that blocks the fallopian tube and prevents the sperm and egg from joining.
Tubal ligation, also known as “getting tubes tied,” is a minimally invasive surgery that cut, tied or seal the fallopian tubes to block the sperm from joining and fertilizing the egg.
For men, a vasectomy is the surgical procedure where the vas deferens within the scrotum is severed, tied and/or sealed to prevent sperm from being ejaculated through the penis and fertilizing the egg.
Dr. Ward takes the time necessary to review with the patient (couple) family planning priorities, health history, health status and other considerations as he makes a recommendation.
There are a variety of contraception methods to consider and they all have varying degrees of effectiveness and side effects. Call Dr. Ward as you consider family planning and the various methods of birth control that are available.