Preconception health is an early opportunity for you improve your health and ensure you are in the best possible medical position to have a baby. This can be useful if you have previously had trouble conceiving or you are worried that you may pass on a genetic condition. Whatever your reasons, we are here to help you make informed choices and start your new chapter in the best possible way.
The ChristianaCare Center for Reproductive Health specializes in innovative contraceptive techniques and provides comprehensive reproductive health services, especially for patients with complex medical issues.
Comprehensive birth control counseling
We offer a wide range of contraception options and can match the best method of contraception to your medical and social needs. In addition, we specialize in contraception consultations for women with serious medical conditions.
What is birth control?
Birth control is any activity, medicine, or equipment used to prevent pregnancy. There are many types of birth control available for women who do not wish to become pregnant. The decision on which method is right for you should be made with your healthcare provider, as well as with your partner.
Birth control methods work in different ways to prevent pregnancy, including:
- Creating a barrier that blocks sperm from reaching the egg
- Killing sperm
- Preventing eggs from being released by the ovaries
- Changing the cervical mucus to hinder sperm from moving into the uterus
- Altering the tissue lining the uterus so that a fertilized egg can’t implant
What are the different types of birth control?
Some methods that don’t require a prescription from your healthcare provider include:
- Abstinence. Not having sex.
- Spermicides. Foams or creams placed inside the vagina to kill sperm. These may also provide some protection against sexually transmitted infections. This is especially possible when used with a latex condom.
- Male condom. A thin tube made of latex or a natural material that is placed over the penis. The sperm is collected in the end of the condom. Latex condoms may provide some protection against sexually transmitted infections.
- Female condom. A liner made of latex or natural material that is placed inside the vagina. Latex condoms may provide some protection against sexually transmitted infections.
- Natural family planning. Timing sex to avoid fertile days using various methods of monitoring body temperature. It also involves watching for changes in cervical mucus, and the use of ovulation prediction kits. This method, often known as the rhythm method, has a high risk for pregnancy.
Some methods that require a visit to your healthcare provider for an exam and a prescription include:
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Medicines taken daily that prevent ovulation by controlling pituitary hormone secretion. Usually, oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.
- Mini-pill. Unlike the traditional birth control pill, the mini-pill has only the hormone, progestin. Taken daily, the mini-pill thickens cervical mucus and prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. The mini-pill also can decrease the flow of your period and protect against pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian and endometrial cancer.
- Implant. A capsule containing the synthetic hormone etonogestrel is implanted under the skin in the upper arm of a woman. This continuously prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg for up to 3 years. A local anesthetic is needed for insertion and removal of this type of birth control.
- Injection. A progesterone-like drug given by injection to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. The effects last for about 3 months and another injection must be given to continue birth control effectiveness.
- Patch. This is a skin patch worn on the body that releases the hormones estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream. It is most effective in women who weigh less than 198 pounds.
- Diaphragm or cervical cap. A dome-shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim that is inserted through the vagina to cover the cervix. This type of birth control must be inserted before having sex.
- Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring. A ring that is placed inside the vagina around the cervix. The ring releases the hormones estrogen and progestin.
- Intrauterine device (IUD). Devices placed in the uterus through the cervix by a healthcare provider. The IUD works by thickening cervical mucus to make it hard for sperm to enter the cervix. Or by preventing the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. IUDs containing hormones are also called intrauterine systems and must be replaced every 5 years, while copper IUDs can last up to 10 years.