Best Birth Control For Irregular Periods – Many people have sex without the intention of having a baby, and there are more options than ever to prevent pregnancy.
Nor can pregnancy prevention be the only or most important goal of birth control, according to CeCe Cheng, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine physician in Texas and a contributor to Physicians for Reproductive Health.
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“When we talk to patients about contraceptives, before we get to efficacy, we first narrow down what they want out of it,” she says. For women, birth control can also help relieve heavy periods, regulate the menstrual cycle and deal with acne, according to the Office on Women’s Health.
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This does not mean that only women should practice contraception. According to Miri Shah, MD, birth control is every partner’s responsibility.
“Everyone should be counseled about all methods of contraception,” she says, from birth control pills to vasectomy, regardless of gender.
The form of birth control that is right for each person is very individual and can change over time. According to dr. Shahu, you are never locked into one form of reversible birth control and can always switch to another. Your doctor’s job is to help you navigate each one and advise you on how it might apply to your lifestyle, goals and needs.
“It’s about finding the best method for the patient, not about the doctor pushing an agenda of what he thinks is best,” she says. “If you have to change even after a month, don’t be sad about it. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find what works for people.”
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Condoms are the only birth control method that provides additional protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the traditional type of penile condom is not the only option.
“Condoms are an amazing method of contraception, but they’re not always used,” says Shah, noting that if you don’t use every time, it’s best to have another method on hand, like emergency contraception. .
Most condoms are made of latex, a type of rubber. It’s important to always use a water-based lubricant — rather than an oil-based lubricant — with latex condoms because oil-based products can damage the material and make it less effective, according to Planned Parenthood.
If one or more partners are allergic to latex, you can find latex-free plastic and sheepskin condoms. But keep in mind that sheepskin condoms do not protect against STIs.
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Classic condoms are designed to cover the penis and catch sperm, as well as to protect the partner’s genitals from direct contact.
Pros: Latex and plastic condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases, are readily available in stores, and are often free at clinics.
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You may have heard them colloquially referred to as “female condoms”. Internal condoms are inserted into the vagina and work in the same way as condoms worn on the penis: they prevent sperm from coming into contact with the egg.
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The diaphragm is essentially a shallow, flexible cup that sits in the cervix, like a menstrual cup. Diaphragms are not condoms, so they do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, but when used correctly, they prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Neck caps work in a similar way.
Cons: According to Planned Parenthood, the diaphragm should be used with spermicide for the most protection—more on that below.
An IUD is a small, flexible T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into the lower part of the uterus. It is known for its ease of use and effectiveness as a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC). There are two common types, the copper IUD and the levonorgestrel IUD (LNG ISP), and five brands are FDA-approved. Some IUDs can prevent you from having regular periods.
According to Planned Parenthood, three brands of IUDs—Paragard, Mirena, and Liletta—can also be used for emergency contraception if inserted within five days of unprotected sex.
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The Paragard is a copper-wrapped, hormone-free IUD that causes an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to both sperm and eggs, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can last for 10 to 12 years, but can be removed at any time.
Cons: This may not be an option if you have uterine abnormalities such as fibroids and require an appointment with your primary care physician to have them removed. This can increase cramps, the intensity of the discharge and the number of days of menstruation.
LNG IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta and Skyla) release a small amount of progestin per day and last three to seven years, depending on the brand, although you can remove it sooner.
Pros: It’s more than 99 percent effective, lasts for years, and doesn’t require regular clinic visits or prescription refills.
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Cons: Having a device in your body isn’t for everyone, and removing it is a bit more difficult than, say, stopping the pill or removing a ring. This may not be an option for those with uterine abnormalities.
Hormonal contraceptives use two hormones, estrogen and progestin, to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg), according to the Mayo Clinic. Hormones also thicken the lining of the cervix, Planned Parenthood notes, which prevents sperm from swimming around the cervix.
“For some people, the estrogen in some hormonal contraceptives can increase the risk of blood clots, high blood pressure and stroke when combined with other risk factors, such as smoking or being over 35,” says Dr. Cheng.
There are many different pill options, but they all fall into two categories: combined pills that contain both estrogen and progestin, and pills that only contain progestin. According to Planned Parenthood, combination pills are the most common, but you and your healthcare provider can determine which version is right for you. It’s also worth noting that while you should take any type of birth control pill daily, some need to be taken at the same time each day to be effective, Shah says.
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Benefits: The pill can regulate your menstrual cycle, reduce cramps, and even clear acne. When used properly, it is about 91 percent effective.
Cons: It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections and you have to take it every day at the same time.
There are two birth control patches approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Xulane and Twirla. Like the pill, patches contain hormones that prevent ovulation, but in this case you don’t have to remember to take the pill every day. The patches are worn on the arm, stomach or buttocks and release hormones into the skin.
You wear three different patches during one menstrual cycle, replacing the old patch with a new one each week, and you have your period on the fourth week.
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There are two FDA-approved brands, NuvaRing and Annovera, that last slightly differently before they need to be replaced. Both are small, flexible rings that sit inside the vagina and continuously release hormones until you pull them out during the week of your period. Most importantly, do not remove the ring during sex.
Pros: It’s 91 percent effective and can be more convenient than the pill with the same effect on your cycle.
Cons: Products containing silicone or oil can damage the Annovera ring, and neither product protects against sexually transmitted infections.
The Depo-Provera injection, often abbreviated as Depo, is a progestin injection given once every three months.
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Pros: It’s 96 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and may be more convenient for some people than pills or devices. It is progestin only, which may make it safer for some people. If you do not want others to know that you are using contraception, the injection will be “invisible”.
Cons: Vaccination requires visiting a health center four times a year and does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
The implant is a thin rod that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm and releases progestin for three to five years, protecting you from pregnancy. If you want it to appear earlier, that’s always an option. Like IUDs, implants are long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) known for their ease of use and effectiveness.
Advantages: 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy. Because it contains only progestin, it may be safer for some people and lasts three to five years.
Fertility And Contraception After Birth
There are several types of non-hormonal gels and creams that use active ingredients to kill sperm or prevent it from reaching the egg in other ways, such as changing the pH of the vagina. They are usually used every time before sex.
By themselves, spermicides are only about 72 percent effective and are often used in conjunction with another form of birth control, such as condoms or an IUD. Over-the-counter spermicides contain chemicals that slow down sperm and make it harder for the sperm to reach the egg.
Cons: Only about 72 percent effective and best used with another form of birth control; does not protect against STIs.
Phexxi is not a hormone or spermicide, but a prescription gel that is inserted into the vagina before sex. This makes the vagina more acidic, which makes sperm difficult to pass
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