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Which Prescription Birth Control is Right for You?

Womens Health > Which Prescription Birth Control is Right for You?

Most health insurance policies cover some birth control products (the pill is almost universally covered now). You should consult with your doctor and check your insurance plan before choosing a birth control regimen.

There are two main categories of birth control that can be prescribed by your women's health care provider: progestin-only and combined hormone. Progestin is a hormone similar to the progesterone ovaries produce to prevent ovulation, as well as create thicker cervical mucus that prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. Combined hormone birth control does the same thing, but it uses hormones similar to estrogen, as well as those similar to progesterone.

The progestin-only methods of birth control include implants, shots and Progestin Only Pills (POPs). The combined hormone category includes the patch, the ring and, of course, the pill.

The implant method is known by its brand name of Norplant. Women's health professionals will only administer this option if you are already using Norplant; it is unavailable for new use now. One of the reasons for its removal from the market is its difficult removal.

Depo-Provera is the shot. These are effective for 12 weeks, and eliminate the monthly menstrual cycle while in use. The shot can be used during breast-feeding, and by women who can't use birth control containing estrogen. Additionally, some women find it helpful not to have to remember to take a pill. Some of the side effects can include skin rash, dizziness, nausea, hair loss (or hair growth on face) or decreased sex drive. Women's health professionals warn that side effects can take 12 weeks to wear off. And it can be difficult to become pregnant immediately after.

The main advantage of POPs is that women who cannot ordinarily take estrogen can have a form of birth control. Also, ability to conceive is almost immediate after quitting the regimen. Irregular bleeding patterns can result (and are increased if POPs aren't taken at the same time every day), as well as dizziness, nausea and sore breasts.

The patch is Ortho-Evra. This form of birth control is relatively new; it may be some time before long-term studies are released. The patch is worn on the skin and changed weekly, with one week of the month off to menstruate. Like the pill, the patch is expected to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers associated with women's health, regulate the period, fewer premenstrual symptoms and cramping. However, it is possible for the skin at the site of the patch to become irritated, and the patch may not be effective on women who weigh more than 198 pounds.

The ring (Nuvaring) is inserted into the vagina for three weeks and removed for the fourth week of the month. This is also a relatively new form of birth control. Those who provide care in the area of women's health expect that, like the patch, the ring will have similar benefits to those of the pill. Some women may not like the fact the ring prevents the use of back-up birth control methods like cervical caps or diaphragms.

The pill is still the most popular contraceptive. Its use is simple, and it can be issued in various doses. Unlike the patch or the ring, the pill can be prescribed with lower doses of hormones and used while breast-feeding. The advantages of this method of birth control are listed above. Some of the side effects of the pill are expected to appear in the patch and the ring as well: nausea, weight gain or loss, temporary irregular bleeding and breast tenderness.

All combined hormone birth control methods have rare, but possibly serious side effects that include blood clots, heart attach and stroke. Smoking increases these risks.

None of the above methods of birth control protect against sexually transmitted diseases. No matter which method you choose, it is important to consult with your women's health care provider and report any symptoms that occur after you begin your regimen.

Womens Health > Which Prescription Birth Control is Right for You?