Facts About Contraception and Family Planning

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According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 62 percent of women in the United States that are of reproductive age currently use a contraceptive. But none are 100 percent effective.

“The good news is there are more choices than ever before when it comes to birth control selection,” said Danielle Roncari, MD, MPH, an OB/GYN at Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston. “Patients should educate themselves about the options, determine what is affordable and decide what works best with their lifestyle.”

Dr. Roncari provides 20 quick facts about family planning:

  • Birth control pills remain the most popular form of reversible birth control in the United States.

IUDs and contraceptive implants are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch and the ring.

IUDs are used 3x more often by gynecologists than by other women.

The over the counter morning after pill with the hormone levonorgestrel is much less effective for overweight women and is not effective for obese women.

Have you heard of Ella? It is more effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse than over the counter emergency contraception for overweight women and for women that have had sex 72-120 hours before taking the medication. This medication requires a prescription.

The first condoms date back to 1640 and were made of animal gut. In the 18th century, the famous womanizer Casanova wore condoms made of linen. 

Latex condoms are the only method of birth control that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

IUDs are safe and effective for women who haven’t had children yet.

Progesterone (found in IUDs, contraceptive implants, the shot and certain type of birth control pills) does not have the same risk of blood clot as estrogen containing methods.

The copper IUD (Paragard) is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy up to 120 hours after unprotected sex and provides highly effective long term contraception.

The birth control shot (Depo-Provera) is 94% effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use and must be given once every three months. Perfect use of this method makes it over 99% effective.

IUDs and contraceptive implants are excellent methods for sexually active teenagers.

It is not necessary to have a period every month if you are using hormonal contraception.

Using the birth control pill for an extended period of time has been associated with a decrease in ovarian and uterine cancer.

The hormonal IUD can be used effectively to help decrease bleeding in women that have very heavy bleeding.

  • A miscarriage can be safely managed with medication or with an office procedure requiring minimal anesthesia.
  • There are many options for permanent birth control including hysteroscopic sterilization (Essure) which requires no incisions and can be done with minimal anesthesia, laparoscopic procedures involving clips on the tubes or complete removal of the tubes or vasectomy for men. If you smoke cigarettes and are over age 35, you shouldn’t use birth control that contains estrogen.
  • If you have medical problems, there are safe and effective available methods of birth control.
  • The best birth control is the one that’s right for you. Talk to your doctor or health care provider.

Posted February 2018 The above content is provided for educational purposes by Tufts Medical Center. It is free for educational use. For information about your own health, contact your physician.

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