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Understanding Your Birth Control Options

Understanding Your Birth Control Options

Deciding when to have children depends on choosing a birth control method that works best for you. David Leszkowitz, DO, and the team at White Lake Family Medicine in White Lake, Michigan, offer a wide range of birth control options, giving you the chance to find the best method for your health, lifestyle, and future plans.

Here’s a rundown of your birth control options.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)

You may not be familiar with the LARC label, but chances are you know about the LARC birth control methods: intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control implants. LARCs are the most effective and convenient contraceptives available.

IUDs and implants are more than 99% effective. They’re convenient and long-lasting because we insert them once, and they can stay in place for years, continuously protecting you from pregnancy.

Though they’re just as effective as sterilization, they’re completely reversible. We can easily remove an IUD or implant in the office when you decide to stop using the device.


An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that we insert into your uterus. You can choose from several types of hormone-releasing IUDs or get a copper IUD.

The IUDs that release hormones last for 3-5 years, depending on the type; the copper IUD can last up to 10 years. 

Birth control implant

The birth control implant is a slim, flexible, rod-shaped device that we place under the skin of your arm. Currently, there’s only one implant brand and it lasts up to three years.

Short-acting reversible contraceptives (SARCs)

The birth control methods in this group are short-acting because they stop working if you don’t take or replace them as required. 

Each method contains hormones that last for a specific amount of time. It’s necessary to keep taking or replacing them to ensure the hormone levels in your body stay level enough to prevent pregnancy.

Your SARC options include:

Birth control pills (oral contraceptives)

Birth control pills have been the top choice of many women for decades. Today, you can choose from different brands with various types and combinations of hormones. As a result, we can recommend an oral contraceptive that’s safe for nearly all women.

Oral contraceptives can be 99% effective, but in reality, they’re 91% effective, meaning 9 out of every 100 women who take the pill will get pregnant. Birth control pills are ranked at 91% because “user error” comes into play.

If you choose the pill, you need to take it every day without fail to keep your hormone levels steady. Some prescriptions even recommend taking birth control pills every day at the same time to ensure 99% effectiveness.

Birth control shot

If you choose the birth control shot, you get a hormone-containing injection every three months. As long as you keep getting shots, this method is 99% effective. If you get your injection late, the effectiveness drops to 94%. However, that number keeps going down as time passes before you get the next shot.

Birth control patch

This method consists of a self-adhesive patch that releases hormones. You wear it on your stomach, buttocks, back, or upper arm (depending on the type of patch). 

Like the other short-acting methods, the patch is 91-99% effective. To maintain 99% effectiveness, replace the patch once each week. You also need to check it daily to be sure it hasn’t come loose.

Vaginal ring

The flexible ring goes inside your vagina, where it’s 91-99%. When inserting the vaginal ring, you push it toward the back of your vagina, but you don’t need to worry about precisely placing it in a specific position. Then it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy.

There are several brands, but most rings stay in place for 3-6 weeks before you need to replace them with a new one. You may be able to keep the ring inserted all the time and skip periods. Or we may recommend taking it out one week every month to have periods.

Barrier birth control methods

Barrier methods include the diaphragm, sponge, and cervical cap. You insert these methods into your vagina before having sex, which blocks the cervical opening, preventing sperm from getting into your cervix. These methods are also used together with a spermicide to provide further protection.

You must insert the barrier properly every time you have sex. The diaphragm is the most effective of the barrier methods. As a group, their effectiveness ranges from 71-88%.

Call White Lake Family Medicine or request an appointment online to get the best birth control option for you today.

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