Ask Our Physicians: Birth Control

Danielle Pipkin, MD
Danielle Pipkin, MD, FACOG

Dear Dr. Pipkin:

I’m on “the pill” but continue to forget to take it! I need something that’s easier to manage. What are my birth control options?

Birth control pills are an effective way to help prevent pregnancy, but let’s be honest…they’re not always the most convenient. Thankfully, we now have other contraception methods that are long acting, reversible, and don’t require much, if any, effort from you!

Long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC) methods are highly effective, 20 times more so than the standard birth control pills, patch, and vaginal ring. As a matter of fact, the intrauterine device (IUD) and birth control implant are the most effective LARC available; AND, if you want to become pregnant or stop using them, we can remove them at any time.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The IUD is used to prevent fertilization of the egg by the sperm. It’s a small, T-shaped, plastic device inserted into the uterus through the cervix, and comes in two types:

  • Hormonal IUD: releases progestin and lasts up to three to five years
  • Copper IUD: no hormones are released and lasts up to 10 years

Once the IUD is in place, there’s nothing for you to do until it’s ready to be removed by your healthcare provider. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort, and it shouldn’t interfere with sex or daily activities.

You may notice side effects during the first few months after insertion of the copper IUD, such as increased menstrual bleeding, cramps, or bleeding between periods. These side effects should decrease within the first year. Spotting and irregular bleeding may also occur within the first few months if you have a hormonal IUD, but this should decrease over time, as well as the length of your period and menstrual pain. Other side effects may include headaches, nausea, depression, and breast tenderness.

Birth Control Implant

The birth control implant is a flexible rod, about the size of a toothpick, that’s inserted under the skin in your upper arm. This type of contraception releases the hormone, progestin, into the body to stop ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and fertilize the egg. Progestin also keeps the uterine lining thin so it’s harder for a fertilized egg to attach to it. The birth control implant lasts up to three years.

Once the implant is in place, there’s nothing more for you to do until it’s ready to be removed by your healthcare provider. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort, and it shouldn’t interfere with sex or daily activities.

Side effects vary among women, but may include unpredictable bleeding, mood changes, headaches, acne, or depression.

Learn More

If you have questions about contraception methods, and which option is right for you, please call our office at (865)331-1122 to schedule an appointment.

It’s important to remember you can always talk to your doctor about your sexual health and any concerns you may have about contraception or women’s health.

About Dr. Pipkin:

In addition to long-acting, reversible contraception, Danielle Pipkin, MD, FACOG specializes in:

  • Preventative care
  • Obstetrics
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vaginal surgery

For more information about Dr. Pipkin, please click here to see her profile. She is accepting new patients, and you can make an appointment with her by calling (865)331-1122.

Disclaimer: please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have a specific medical question or issue, we encourage you to call our office at (865) 331-1122 and schedule an appointment.

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