Birth Control

Birth Control: Do You Know Your Options?

Today I want to take the opportunity to list the various options in birth control.  Last week we talked about IUDs.  This week we will be learning about the various other options listed, what they are, how they work and how effective they are. How many of these options were you aware of?

  • Abstinence

  • Birth Control Implants (Implanon & Nexplanon)

  • Birth Control Patch

  • Birth Control Pills

  • Birth Control Shot (Depo-Provera)

  • Birth Control Sponge (Today Sponge)

  • Birth Control Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)

  • Breastfeeding as Birth Control

  • Cervical Cap (FemCap)

  • Condom

  • Diaphragm

  • Female Condom

  • Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FAMs)

  • IUD

  • Outercourse

  • Spermicide

  • Sterilization for Women (Tubal Sterilization)

  • Vasectomy

  • Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)

Do you have questions about family planning and birth control options?  At Health Foundations Women's Health & Birth Center we believe in providing the best care based on each woman's unique needs for every stage of her life.  Our providers take the time to listen to you, to answer your questions and to make sure you leave your appointment feeling informed and cared for. Give us a call to schedule an appointment 651-895-2520.

Understanding IUDs: Is It the Right Birth Control For You?

If you keep up on women's health, or talk to other ladies about their hooha, I'm sure you've heard a lot recently about the rising popularity of the intrauterine device and wondered if you should get an IUD. After years of living in the shadow of its flashier sister the Pill, the IUD is finally having its day in the sun — it's 99 percent effective against pregnancy and it's been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the best form of birth control for young women. Everybody seems to be crazy for IUDs these days — but does that mean that they are the right birth control for you?


What is an IUD?

An IUD is a tiny device that's inserted in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It's long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.


What does IUD stand for?

IUD stands for Intrauterine Device i.e. a device inside your uterus. It's a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. 


What are the different types of IUDs?

There are 5 different brands of IUDs that are FDA approved for use in the United States: ParaGard, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena.

These IUDs are divided into 2 types: copper IUDs (ParaGard) and hormonal IUDs (Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena).

The ParaGard IUD doesn't have hormones. It's wrapped in a tiny bit of copper, and it protects you from pregnancy for up to 12 years. The Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is very similar to the hormone progesterone that our bodies make naturally. Mirena works for up to 6 years. Kyleena works for up to 5 years. Skyla and Liletta work for up to 3 years.


How do IUDs work?

Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm move so they can't get to an egg. If sperm can't make it to an egg, pregnancy can't happen.

The ParaGard IUD uses copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm don't like copper, so the ParaGard IUD makes it almost impossible for sperm to get to that egg.

The hormones in Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena IUDs prevent pregnancy in two ways: 1) they thicken the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps the sperm, and 2) the hormones also sometimes stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there's no egg for a sperm to fertilize. No egg, no pregnancy.

One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years — but they're not permanent. If you decide to get pregnant or you just don't want to have your IUD anymore, your nurse or doctor can quickly and easily take it out. You're able to get pregnant right after the IUD is removed.


Is an IUD right for you?

Maybe. IUDs have a lot going for them — they're the most effective form of reversible birth control for women, and you don't have to fiddle with them before sex or remember to put them in every day. But everyone comes to birth control for different things. Some of us are looking to help our forgetful selves. Some of us are trying to lessen our bad menstrual cramps. Some of us are just using birth control because we're on another medication that requires it (like Accutane). And because we all have different birth control agendas, we all need to sort through different sets of facts.


Interested in getting an IUD?

Do you have additional questions about IUDs?  Are you interested in getting an IUD?  At Health Foundations Women's Health & Birth Center we believe in providing the best care based on each woman's unique needs for every stage of her life.  Our providers take the time to listen to you, to answer your questions and to make sure you leave your appointment feeling informed and cared for. Give us a call to schedule an appointment 651-895-2520.

Vasectomies - How Effective Are They & What To Expect

Vasectomy Explained

If you are planning for this pregnancy or your most recent babe to be your last, you are probably beginning to think about birth control options for the future. While there are many safe and simple contraceptive solutions for mom post baby, many couples decide that a vasectomy for dad makes the most sense for them. Vasectomies are a safe and effective PERMANENT solution if you are absolutely certain you will not want more children in the future. Here are the basics of the procedure along with some benefits and risks so that you and your partner can make an informed decision that works for your family.

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure for the male that offers a permanent solution for birth control. In the procedure, the doctor will clamp, cut and seal the vas deferens on each testicle preventing the sperm from mixing with semen when ejaculation occurs. Without sperm, the semen is unable to fertilize the egg and pregnancy cannot occur. Although the male will continue to produce sperm, the sperm will be absorbed back into the body rather than released during ejaculation.

How effective is a vasectomy at preventing pregnancy?

A vasectomy is an extremely effective form of birth control. The procedure is approximately 99.85 % effective with only 1-2 pregnancies occurring in every 1.000 cases. When failure does occur, it is usually because a back-up method of birth control was not used during the two months following the procedure when the sperm is clearing from the body via ejaculation or reabsorption. To ensure that an unplanned pregnancy does not occur, be sure to use a back-up method of contraception until your partner has a semen sample tested indicating a zero sperm count.

What to expect in and after the procedure:

A vasectomy is a quick procedure that only takes approximately 20-30 minutes and does not require general anesthesia. The doctor will clean and likely shave the area and then inject a local anesthetic to the scrotum. An IV with medication is often also given to make you sleepy and reduce anxiety levels.

Once the area is numb, the doctor will make two small incisions in the scrotum in which he will cut the vas deferens tubes and then tie, stitch or seal the ends together. The vas deferens is then placed back in the scrotum and dissolvable stiches are used to close the incisions.

Following the procedure, there will be numbness to the area for approximately 1-2 hours and possibly swelling and some discomfort for a few days. You will likely be able to return to work and your normal activities after 1-2 days and can resume having sex once the pain has subsided. You will also want to avoid lifting any heavy objects for about a week. For the first two months following the procedure, a back-up method of birth control is necessary while the sperm is cleared through ejaculation and reabsorption. It is important to remember that you CAN get pregnant during this time period. A back-up method of contraception should be used until your partner has received a sperm count test that equals zero.

Common questions and concerns:

Will having a vasectomy interfere with sex drive?

No. Vasectomies should not interfere with a man’s drive, erection, orgasm or ejaculation though he may experience a mild ache in the testicles with arousal in the months following the procedure.

Are there any risks associated with having a vasectomy?

The risk level for complications with a vasectomy is low. Should complications arise, they may include:

  • Infection at the site of the incision or inside the scrotum
  • Swelling or bruising caused by bleeding under the skin
  • Leaking sperm that creates a sperm granuloma
  • Inflammation of the vas deferens
  • Reconnection of the vas deferens resulting in the man being fertile again. (This is a very rare occurrence)
  • Some studies suggest that having a vasectomy may slightly increase the risk for prostate cancer.

Can the procedure be reversed if we change our minds? If you are thinking you might change your mind later about wanting more children, you should not be considering a vasectomy. Though a reversal may be possible, it is a complicated and difficult procedure that may or may not work and may not be covered by your insurance. Most doctors require a waiting period between the decision to have a vasectomy and the actual procedure to ensure that the patient is absolutely sure of their decision. If you are having second thoughts at any point leading up to the vasectomy, it’s best to opt for a less permanent form of birth control.

How does a vasectomy compare to tubal ligation for a woman?

A vasectomy is overall safer, less expensive and less invasive than tubal ligation. Both procedures have close to a 100 percent effectiveness rate. Vasectomies are a highly effective form of permanent contraception if your family has made the decision that it is complete. As with any form of permanent birth control, you will want to discuss this option thoroughly with your partner and ensure that no action is taken until you both feel absolutely certain about the decision. For all your questions about birth control options after baby, pregnancy and natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

Most Commonly Asked Questions about Birth Control after Baby

Birth Control after Birth

When should I start birth control again after giving birth?

Once you are cleared for sex at your six-week postpartum check-up, you can start a new birth control regimen. This check-up is a great opportunity to discuss your plans for birth control, what has and has not worked for you in the past, and any plans for future pregnancies. It’s important to wait until your doctor or midwife gives you the OK as certain birth control medications can increase your risk for a blood clot in the weeks immediately following your delivery. This is particularly true of birth controls that contain estrogen such as combination pills, the patch and the vaginal ring. 

Is birth control safe while breastfeeding?

Yes, absolutely. The hormones that are secreted into your breastmilk are minimal and are not harmful to your baby. You will want to avoid options that include estrogen though as it can cause your supply to drop. The best birth control options while breastfeeding are the progestin only mini-pill, hormonal or hormone-free IUDs and the progestin-only subdermal implant.

What are my options for birth control post baby?

Once your doctor or midwife gives you the OK to begin a birth control regimen, you will want to decide which option makes the most sense for you. Some factors to consider include whether or not you are breastfeeding your baby, plans for future children, hormone sensitivity and convenience. Here are several of the most common birth control options and whether or not they are recommended while breastfeeding.

  • Combination pills: These pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin designed to suppressed ovulation. They are NOT recommended while breastfeeding because of the estrogen content. 
  • Mini pill: The mini pill contains progestin only and is intended for use by breastfeeding moms.
  • IUDs:  An IUD is an intrauterine contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by disabling the sperm. There are hormonal and non-hormonal options that can be used from 3-12 years, depending on the type. They are considered to be one of the most effective forms of birth control and are safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • Vaginal ring: The vaginal ring releases hormones that suppress ovulation. It is removed during the week of menstruation and then a new one is placed. While the vaginal ring is a good option for those who have trouble remembering to take the pill, it is NOT recommended for breastfeeding moms due to the estrogen content. 
  • Subdermal implant: A newer option to the contraceptive market is the subdermal rod implant that is inserted under the arm skin. With high efficacy rates and no estrogen, this is a safe and effective option for nursing moms.
  • Injectable birth control: Depo Provera is the most commonly known injectable contraceptive and has a 99 percent efficacy rate. This progestin only injection is given every 12 weeks and is safe for breastfeeding moms. However, there is some speculation that it may cause a drop in your supply. 
  • Tubal litigation: This is a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are cut or sealed to create a permanent block preventing the egg from reaching the uterus for fertilization. This option should only be considered if there is NO chance that you may want to become pregnant again. There are some concerns about the procedure affecting supply but it is generally safe while breastfeeding.
  • Non-surgical sterilization: Similar to tubal litigation, non-surgical sterilization should ONLY be considered if you are done having children. With this method of contraceptive, a device is vaginally inserted into the fallopian tube that causes scarring to create a barrier that prevents the sperm and egg from meeting. This is a PERMANENT form of birth control and should not be considered if there is a possibility you may want more children in the future. This procedure is considered to be safe while breastfeeding.

Do I need to be done having kids to get an IUD?

No. An IUD is a completely reversible form of birth control. As soon as your IUD is removed, you can become pregnant. Many women worry that an IUD will affect their future fertility because it CAN be used as a long term option. However, research actually shows high rates of pregnancy following the removal of intrauterine devices.

I’ve heard exclusive breastfeeding is great birth control. Is that true?

Yes, it is true--WHEN and IF you meet all the criteria. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is endorsed by the World Health Organization as being up to 98 percent effective. In order to rely on LAM for birth control you must meet the following conditions:

  • No period since your baby’s birth
  • Baby is under 6 months of age
  • You practice ecological breastfeeding, nursing baby at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night. 

Learn more about about breastfeeding as birth control

Who should I talk to to learn more about my options?

Talk to your midwife or doctor to learn more about contraceptive options and for help choosing the best method for you. Consider having this conversation even before you deliver so that there is a plan in place once you receive the green light for sex and birth control. Health experts recommend waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies to allow your body to heal and reduce chances for future pregnancy complications. 

To learn more about birth control options after baby and for any and all questions related to pregnancy and natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.