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Emily Reznicek, MD: Choosing Your First Birth Control Method

So You’re Interested in Starting Birth Control…

There are many birth control options, and selecting the right one is a personal decision. Some women use birth control not just for contraception but also for heavy menstrual bleeding, to reduce acne, or to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer for those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). There are a few health reasons to avoid certain birth control options. The following are some highlight discussion points on the most popular birth control methods.

Birth Control Pill

Most women starting birth control for the first time will choose “the pill” because it seems like the most convenient and least invasive option since it does not require a procedure. This is a reasonable approach, but in order for the pill to be reliable, it must be taken consistently. Missed doses reduce the effectiveness of preventing pregnancy. This is the main reason the pill is less effective at preventing pregnancy than other forms of birth control, including the IUD, implant, and Depo-Provera injection. Women who have had a blood clot, have migraines with aura, or smoke and are over 35 years old should not take estrogen-containing birth control pills.

IUD

An IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a tiny device that is put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two main types of IUD’s — those that contain a progesterone hormone, and the hormone-free copper IUD. Hormone-containing IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, and Liletta) generally stop periods or cause them to become lighter. The copper IUD (called Paraguard) can cause heavier, more painful periods. IUD benefits include:

  • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
  • Lasts anywhere from 3 to 10 years
  • No need to remember a pill every day
  • Can reduce or stop your period

Downside: A procedure in the doctor’s office is required to insert the IUD.

Implant

The most commonly used birth control implant is the Nexplanon. This is a small (approximately the size of a matchstick) device, inserted just under the skin in the upper arm, that secretes a progesterone hormone. The procedure to insert the implant is simple and performed in a doctor’s clinic. Benefits include:

  • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
  • Lasts for 3 years
  • No need to remember a pill every day
  • Insertion procedure is less invasive than the IUD

Downside:  Potential of random spotting.

Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera is an injectable progesterone-only hormonal birth control that is given as a shot in the arm. The benefits include:

  • 94% effective at preventing pregnancy
  • Effective for 3 months
  • No need to remember a pill every day
  • Periods may stop
  • Does not require an invasive procedure

Downsides: Depo-Provera is associated with weight gain and you need to come into the clinic every 3 months for another injection (typically given by a nurse).

Resources

  • Contact your Provider
    When considering which birth control method is right for you, a qualified health care professional can help you work through the options that work best with your lifestyle.
  • Visit Bedsider.org
    This website provides information about birth control options, including testimonies from women who have used different methods of birth control.

About Emily Reznicek, MD
Family Medicine

As a board-certified Family Medicine physician, Dr. Reznicek provides a full spectrum of medical care for all ages. Her specialties include women’s care; birth control and family planning, including IUD insertions and removals; and Nexplanon insertions. She is welcoming new patients in her Louisville, Colo. clinic.

Dr. Reznicek provides:

  • Primary care for individuals and families
  • Pediatric & well-child care
  • Newborn care
  • Women’s care
  • Birth control and family planning, including IUD insertions and removals, and Nexplanon insertions
  • Regular physical exams for adults and children
  • Preventive care
  • Management of chronic disease
  • Cancer and other health screenings
  • STD screenings

Contact Dr. Reznicek:

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