Birth Control Basics for Moms
With more choices of birth control methods available than ever, it's not too soon for a mom-to-be to start considering her options.
Tubal ligation, or sterilization, remains the top contraceptive choice of American women with about 28 percent of women who practice birth control choosing this method. Commonly referred to as “getting your tubes tied,” the process involves cutting, burning, or blocking the fallopian tubes with rings, bands, or clips. When the tubes are closed, the egg cannot travel from the ovary into the uterus. Tubal ligation is irreversible and is 98-percent effective.
There is a less invasive alternative to having your tubes tied called an hysteroscopic tubal sterilization. It works by threading a tiny, spring-like device through the cervix and into each fallopian tube. The insertion of this device (called Essure) takes 30 minutes, about one-quarter the time of traditional sterilization, and can be done in a doctor’s office. Because there’s no surgery involved, recovery time is much shorter than with a tubal ligation. Like a tubal, this procedure is considered to be irreversible and is 99.8-percent effective in preventing pregnancies. A follow-up X-ray is done to make sure the tubes are closed.
Vasectomies are a man’s version of sterilization. Like tubal ligations, vasectomies block tubes, are considered to be irreversible, and are nearly 100-percent effective. With this procedure, the vas deferens—two tubes that carry sperm—are blocked. Unlike tubals, vasectomies are not immediately effective because sperm can remain in the system beyond the blocked tubes. Back-up birth control is necessary until a semen analysis shows that the seminal fluid is free of sperm.
Natural Family Planning
CycleBeads are a color-coded string of beads that represent a woman’s menstrual cycle. They employ the use of a rubber ring to note where you are in your cycle. This method was developed by Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health. More than 30,000 CycleBeads have been sold via the Internet in the United States, and according to an article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, this method will soon be available for purchase in stores.
To use CycleBeads, the day a woman starts her period she puts the rubber ring on the red bead. Each day she moves the ring one bead. When the ring is on a red bead or dark bead, there is very low likelihood of pregnancy. When the ring is on a white bead—days eight through 19—there is a high likelihood of getting pregnant if a woman has unprotected intercourse. The first year pregnancy rate is about five percent.
The lactation amenorrhea method (or breastfeeding method) can only be used if a woman is nursing on demand (the baby’s not on a schedule), she hasn’t resumed her period, and the baby is less than six-months-old. The pregnancy rate is one to two percent.
Because there are so many birth control options available, it’s best to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you have. If you feel comfortable, ask close girlfriends and family members about the pros and cons of the methods they use, too. In the end though, it’s important to choose the best form of contraception for you, because after all, busy moms don’t want to be worried about their birth control—they have enough to think about!
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN