Birth control – Misconceptions about contraception

RAPID CITY, S.D. — One of the greatest medical advancements has been the ever-evolving world of birth control. Whether it’s a non-hormonal or hormonal option, birth control has changed how humanity views sex, pregnancy and women’s health.

Birth control is an umbrella term that covers a large variety of options available to women. This variety allows women to find the best option for their lifestyle but can also be an overwhelming decision to determine what will work best for them. Heather Moline, MD, specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology (Ob/Gyn) at Rapid City Medical Center, and is passionate about helping women find the right fit for birth control.

“It’s one of my favorite subjects, because birth control is so multi-functional.”

Dr. Moline explains that hormone-based birth control methods that contain both estrogen and progesterone — such as birth control pills, the patch, or the vaginal ring — are prescribed to women for many reasons other than contraception. Whether it’s alleviating hormonal acne, decreasing bleeding with periods, or reducing PMS symptoms, many women experience beneficial side effects from taking hormonal contraception.

When finding the right birth control for a woman’s lifestyle, there are a several questions that need to be answered. Ease of use and level of upkeep are important concerns, but whether or not to use a hormone-based method like the pill is a decision that should be made with your doctor after a complete review of your prior medical and menstrual history.

Dr. Moline has some patients who, while on the pill, experience nausea, mood swings and bleeding problems. But the biggest obstacle many women face with the pill has little to do with physical symptoms.

“For some women the most common issue they have is remembering to take a pill everyday. That’s why the birth control pill is not the only thing on the market anymore. We have a lot of other options that require less frequent dosing, which results in people not forgetting to take it and this way it’s more effective for contraception, and it keeps their periods more regular and less unpredictable.”

If a woman considers options other than the pill and decides that she would like hormone-free contraception, the best reversible method available is the copper IUD called the Paragard, which is 99.9% effective and lasts for 10 years. Like other Long-Acting Reversable Contraception methods (LARC’s: such as the other IUD’s and the Nexplanon device), the Paragard is immediately reversible. This means that if a woman decides to have it removed, she can begin attempting conception right away.

And if a woman decides she wants to have a child, she must stop using whatever contraception she is on. For most hormone-based methods, a woman can begin trying to conceive the month after she quits using the birth control. For women who have a LARC like an arm insert or IUD, they can try conceiving as soon as the device is removed. A patient’s doctor will be able to clearly lay out a timeline if they decide to begin conceiving.

When a woman decides to go back on birth control after having a child, it is important that she have that conversation with her doctor before delivery, in case something such as a tubal ligation is desired.

Women who use an estrogen-containing contraceptive will have a waiting period after childbirth so as to not increase the risk of blood clotting.

Keeping an ongoing conversation with your doctor is vital when it comes to birth control. Something that is so intimately tied to a woman’s lifestyle and quality of life should be regularly discussed to make sure she is getting the best results she can from her birth control. Dr. Moline also acknowledged parents should strive to keep an open line of communication with their daughter before they have their first period and not to hesitate to involve her pediatrician or primary care provider if her periods become an issue.

“One of the most important reasons we use birth control is to help with heavy periods that can be life-limiting for many women. This means they have fewer days of missed school and activities, fewer days of missed work, and if birth control is one of the ways we can prevent that, then I think that it’s imperative to discuss all the tools that are possible for success.”

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