Family Planning / Birth Control
Alaska Women’s Health, PC offers several options in birth control from temporary to permanent methods.
Non-Permanent Birth Control Methods
Emergency contraception (Plan B)
This can be used when you have unprotected sex or the condom (male or female) breaks. Plan B is NOT the “abortion pill” RU486. Emergency contraception can be administered up to 72 hours after intercourse, however, it should be used as soon as possible. Emergency contraception can reduce the occurrence of pregnancy by as much as 80-90%.
For more detailed information on emergency contraception you can call our main office at (907) 563-7228 and speak with our triage nurse.
Medication Methods of Birth Control
- Depo Provera – Depo Provera is a hormone injection that prevents pregnancy for three months. Depo Provera contains a high dose of synthetic progesterone (but no estrogen) which causes a woman’s ovaries to stop releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus and causes changes in the uterine lining (endometrium) which make it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Depo Provera does NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Implanon – Implanon is a small, thin, hormone releasing plastic rod that is injected into a woman’s arm and is effective as birth control for three years. Implanon is about the size of a matchstick and usually cannot be seen after insertion. Implanon must be inserted by a trained medical professional (this includes physicians, phyician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives). Implanon does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUCD’s or IUD’s) – There are two types of IUCD’s. A hormone secreting IUCD (Mirena levonorgestrel-releasing IUCD) and a non-hormone secreting IUCD (ParaGuard copper IUCD). IUCD’s are inserted through the cervix into the uterus and can remain in place from 5 – 10 years (depending on the IUCD that was chosen). IUCD’s can also be removed at anytime if you decide you want to become pregnant. Fertility returns immediately after the removal of the IUCD. Both types of IUCD’s have a failure rate of less than 1%. The Mirena IUCD has a failure rate of 0.1% while the ParaGuard IUCD has a failure rate of less than 0.8%.
- NuvaRing – NuvaRing is a flexible plastic ring (a contraceptive vaginal ring) that is inserted into the vagina and releases low doses of progesterone and estrogen into the vagina for three weeks and then removed. You will then have your menstrual period, at the end of which you will insert a new NuvaRing. NuvaRing is available by prescription only and does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP’s) – There are different types of OCP’s (Birth Control Pills). There are estrogen and progesterone releasing OCP’s and there are progesterone releasing OCP’s. Both types work as birth control by preventing an egg from being released for fertilization.
- Ortho Evra Patch – The Ortho Evra patch is a once-a-week birth control patch. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks. Then you go without a patch for one week and have your menstrual period. Then you put on a new patch and begin the cycle again. The Ortho Evra patch contains progestin and estrogen and releases these hormones steadily during the week. These hormones keep your ovaries from releasing eggs, it thickens your cervical mucus to block more sperm, and it changes the uterine lining (endometrium) making implantation much less likely.
Barrier Methods of Birth Control
- Cervical Cap – A cervical cap is a flexible silicone or latex thimble shaped device that is placed over the cervix (most cervical caps work via suction, hence the thimble shape). This is another type of barrier birth control. Cervical caps are available by prescription only because a provider must perform a cervical cap fitting to ensure that you use the proper size cervical cap.
- Condoms (male and female) – Condoms, both male and female, are simple and inexpensive to obtain and are one type of barrier birth control. They also protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). However, condoms have a 3% failure rate when used correctly (if the condom breaks or is used incorrectly then the failure rate is as high as 21%).
- Diaphragm – A diaphragm is also a barrier method of birth control. A diaphragm is a silicone or soft latex dome that has a spring molded into the rim. This spring creates a seal against the vaginal walls preventing sperm from entering the uterus. Diaphragms come in different sizes and you must have a fitting appointment with your medical provider. A properly fit diaphragm will cover the cervix and fit snugly against the pubic bone.
- Lea’s Shield – Lea’s Shield is a flexible silicone cervical barrier. It is a one-size-fits-all reusable device about the size of a diaphragm. Lea’s shield does not require a fitting appointment by a medical provider but it is only available by prescription.
- Sponge – A contraceptive sponge is a sponge that is full of spermacide. The sponge must be placed over the cervix prior to intercourse and must remain in place for six hours after ejaculation into the vagina. Contraceptives sponges do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. The Today sponge is currently the only contraceptive sponge available in the United States.
Permanent Birth Control Methods (Sterilization)
- Essure – The Essure procedure is an outpatient hysteroscopic form of female sterilization. The Essure procedure involves a spring-like coil (called a micro-insert) being inserted into each fallopian tube (your physician performs this by inserting the coils through your vagina and uterus into your fallopian tubes). Over approximately three months, your fallopian tubes will form scar tissue around these coils effectively blocking your fallopian tubes from allowing an egg or sperm to pass.
Who Should Use Essure
This is a permanent form of birth control which should only be considered by a woman who does not wish to ever get pregnant again. The Essure procedure has advantages over a typical tubal ligation because it can be performed in an office setting, it does not require general anesthesia, and it does not require incisions. However, unlike a traditional tubal sterilization, a woman must use a back up birth control method for the first three months while her body develops scar tissue around the coils. At three months your physician will perform a hysterosalpingogram to confirm complete blockage of your fallopian tubes. This involves injecting a special dye into your uterus and then taking an X-Ray of your abdomen. The dye will illuminate your uterus and your fallopian tubes up to the location of the Essure coils. If no dye pushes past the Essure coils to your ovaries, then your tubes are completely blocked and the Essure procedure is complete. WOMEN WHO ARE ALLERGIC TO NICKEL ARE NOT CANDIDATES FOR THIS PROCEDURE.
- Tubal Ligation – Tubal ligation is a form of female sterilization. Tubal ligation involves cutting or clamping a woman’s fallopian tubes in order to block eggs from traveling from her ovaries to her uterus and to block sperm from traveling through her uterus and into her fallopian tubes. This keeps a woman’s eggs from ever being fertilized. This is a permanent form of birth control that should only be considered by a woman who does not wish to ever get pregnant again. A tubal ligation can be performed laparoscopically or it can be performed after a cesarean section before the cesarean section incision is sutured closed.
- Vasectomy – A vasectomy is a sterilization procedure performed on a man. A vasectomy involves cutting (via several different methods) a man’s vas deferentia (the tubes which carry sperm from the testes into a man’s semen for ejaculation). This is a permanent sterilization procedure which should only be considered by a man who does not wish to father anymore children.