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Long Term Birth Control Options for Women

Birth control options

These are methods that last for several years, do not require daily or weekly use, and are easily reversible if you change your mind.

As a medical professional, I recommend these options to many of my patients who want to have more control over their reproductive health.

The most common long-term birth control options are intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants.

Both of these methods work by releasing hormones or copper into your body that prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucus, and make the lining of your uterus less suitable for implantation. They are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, which means less than one out of 100 women who use them will get pregnant in a year.

IUDs are small, T-shaped devices that are inserted into your uterus by a health care provider. There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper. Hormonal IUDs (such as Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, and others) release a small amount of progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, into your uterus. They can last for three to six years, depending on the brand. Copper IUDs (such as ParaGard) do not contain hormones, but release copper ions that create an inflammatory response that is toxic to sperm and eggs. They can last for up to 10 years.

Contraceptive implants are thin, flexible rods that are inserted under the skin of your upper arm by a healthcare provider. They release a steady dose of progestin into your bloodstream. They can last for up to five years.

Both IUDs and implants have several benefits, such as:

- They are very effective and do not depend on user compliance.
- They are reversible and do not affect your long-term fertility.
- They may reduce menstrual bleeding and cramps, especially hormonal IUDs.
- They may lower your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer.
- They do not interfere with sexual activity or sensation.

However, they also have some potential drawbacks, such as:

- They do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You should still use condoms or other barrier methods if you have multiple or new sexual partners.
- They may cause irregular bleeding, spotting, or amenorrhea (absence of periods) for the first few months or longer.
- They may cause hormonal side effects, such as acne, weight gain, mood changes, headaches, or breast tenderness, especially implants.
- They may cause insertion or removal complications, such as pain, infection, perforation, expulsion, or migration.
- They may be expensive upfront, although they may be covered by your insurance or other programs.

If you decide to use an IUD or an implant, you should follow up with your healthcare provider after the insertion to make sure it is in place and working properly. You should also check regularly for the presence of the strings (for IUDs) or the rod (for implants) in your body. If you experience any signs of infection, pregnancy, or expulsion, you should seek medical attention right away.

If you want to stop using an IUD or an implant, you should have it removed by a healthcare provider. You can get pregnant as soon as it is removed, so you should use another method of birth control if you do not want to conceive.

Long-term birth control options are safe and effective for most women who want to prevent pregnancy for an extended period. However, they are not suitable for everyone. You should talk to your healthcare provider about your medical history, preferences, and goals before choosing a method that works best for you.

Complete Healthcare for Women - Dr. Lorenzo and Kortney Jones ARNP

Complete Healthcare for Women - Obstetrics and Gynecology


Richard Lorenzo, D.O.

Kortney Jones ARNP

Kortney Jones, ARNP Kortney Jones, ARNP Kortney Jones is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She provides ob-gyn services including birth control, pregnancy and prenatal care, and infertility as well as gynecological services such as women’s health and wellness, abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, pellet hormone therapy, and menopause.

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