Choosing the right long-term birth control method might seem like a daunting task. Whether you’re looking to put off pregnancy for a while or forever, or you’re just looking for a low-effort way to manage a condition like endometriosis, there are many options to pick from. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of the most popular long-term birth control options.
Depo-Provera is a hormone injection that you receive (or give yourself) once a month or once every three months. The shot is between 94% and 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
As long as you receive injections on schedule, the birth control shot is very effective, plus it offers protection against uterine cancer and can cease your menstrual cycle, which can be beneficial for those with bad PMS, heavy flows, or endometriosis.
Some cons associated with the shot include side effects such as irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain, fatigue, and possible loss of bone density. If you don’t like the idea of seeing your healthcare provider every regularly for the shot, know that there is an at-home option, called Depo-SubQ Provera 104, which is available through Nurx and which you self-inject every three months.
Hormonal implants are a long-term method that has a 99% pregnancy prevention success rate for up to three years. Implants work by releasing a small amount of progesterone over time, which signals your body to stop releasing eggs.
The implant procedure is simple and can be done in your healthcare provider’s office. After numbing your arm, they will place the implant just beneath the surface of the skin of your arm.
Some benefits of implant contraceptives are you don’t have any maintenance for three years, it is very effective, and can result in lighter periods. At the three-year mark, you will have it removed and replaced. If you decide that you would like to stop treatment early, you can have it removed before the three year period is complete.
The biggest drawbacks to this type of birth control are that it requires a minor surgical procedure, and it can cause side effects such as hair loss, depression, weight gain, and infection at the implant site. While the actual implantation process is relatively painless, you may experience some bruising or swelling at the site. On most women, it will be completely invisible, but if you are thinner, you may be able to see a faint outline under your skin.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small devices inserted into your uterus by your health care provider. This procedure can be slightly uncomfortable, but once the IUD is in position, you shouldn’t feel anything.
Most IUDs release hormones and are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy for three years, and there are non-hormonal copper IUDs that can last for up to 10 years. Copper is a natural sperm killer, so no other hormones are required with this device. This device is a popular option as it is extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, it does not require any daily or monthly maintenance, it is comfortable for both you and your partner, and can be removed whenever you’re ready. Hormonal versions can also lessen your menstrual flow to treat heavy periods.
Drawbacks to IUDs are that they need to be placed by a health care provider, which requires an appointment. There is a risk that an IUD can fall out or puncture your uterus, and there is also a higher risk of infection for the first month after it’s inserted. Copper IUDs can also produce other side effects such as longer and heavier periods, spotting, and more menstrual cramping.
A tubal ligation — also referred to as female sterilization — involves cutting and burning the tubes that connect your ovaries to your uterus. This procedure is considered 99% effective and has a very low failure rate. It is considered permanent birth control, and it can be very difficult if not impossible to reverse.
The pros of this method are that it is very successful in preventing pregnancy and is considered a permanent solution once you’ve decided you don’t want to have (or have more) children.
Cons to this method are that it’s meant to permanently remove your chances of getting pregnant, it requires you to have minor surgery, and it can be costly, often running up to a few thousand dollars to complete.
It is important to note that the contraceptives listed above do not provide protection against STIs. When using them, you should use a barrier device, if STIs are a concern.
Choosing the right type of long-term contraceptive doesn’t have to be exhausting. Know the pros and cons of each type of option you wish to consider and have a frank discussion with your health care provider on which method will work best with your needs and current health.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.