Choosing A Birth Control Option

Hate the idea of hormones? Want more spontaneity with sex? Would you like to have children, but not now? Are you a mother who has decided her family is large enough?

“Each woman’s contraceptive needs are unique,” says ob/gyn Steven C. Goldberg, M.D., FACOG, “and options can vary. For example,
someone who is healthy and a non-smoker can safely use birth control pills throughout her entire reproductive life. Someone who smokes – which increases the risk for blood clots – or has other medical conditions, may not be a good candidate at any age.” Fortunately, there are many choices and a woman’s ob/gyn can recommend the safest alternative for her.

The pill is one of the leading methods of birth control, but longacting, reversible contraceptives are gaining new popularity. These include intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and hormonal arm implants.

“Many women like these long-term methods,” says Dr. Goldberg. “They are a good choice if you don’t remember to take your pill every day or just like the convenience.” Birth control patches and the vaginal ring also offer long-term contraception.

A condom acts as a barrier against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. The diaphragm is also a barrier, but some women are allergic to spermicide, and the diaphragm is not as effective as other forms of birth control.

Women who have either finished having children or have decided not to have them can c h o o s e p e rma n e n t contraception, including tubal ligation or other noninvasive methods, which require no surgery. A vasectomy is an excellent option for couples.

Emergency contraception is designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex by inhibiting ovulation and disrupting the production of key cells needed to conceive. It is also recommended when a condom breaks. Emergency contraception works best if taken up to 24 hours after intercourse, although it lowers pregnancy risk if taken within 120 hours. It will not work if you are already pregnant.

“Women who don’t want to become pregnant should take precautions against conception until they enter menopause,” says Dr.

“The U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy,” says Dr. Goldberg, “and half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so we know that contraception is being underutilized. Whether I am seeing a teen for the first time or a married woman in for her annual check-up, I always ask if the patient is sexually active and what form of birth control is she using or would like to use.”

All women, especially teens, need to understand not only how to prevent pregnancy, but also how to protect their health from STIs. “Talk with your doctor to determine a safe method of birth control,” concludes Dr. Goldberg, “and if you are going to be sexually active, understand that a condom is the most effective way to protect against the majority of STIs.”

To schedule an appointment to learn more about birth control options, call 732-316-4951.