4 Long-Term Birth Control Options for Women

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Birth controls have long been a go-to option for female birth control. Sadly, however, they leave room for a lot of human error. Skip a pill or take it late, and your risk of pregnancy increases.

Thankfully, there are plenty of longer-term birth control solutions that do not involve taking a pill every day. Here is a look at four of them.

1. Intrauterine Devices

An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a device that your gynecologist can implant inside your uterus to protect against pregnancy. There are two basic types of IUDs. One type releases hormones similar to those contained in birth control pills. Another type is made from copper, and works by triggering your immune response, resulting in inflammation that destroys eggs and sperm.

Hormonal IUDs are a great choice for women with heavy periods, as they tend to make periods lighter. You can choose a version that lasts three, five, or seven years.

Copper IUDs are an ideal option for women who cannot take hormonal birth control due to side effects or interactions with other medications. They can last up to 10 years, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Either kind of IUD can be removed easily in your gynecologist’s office if you decide you would like to become pregnant. The primary downfall of IUDs is that many patients experience pain and cramping during insertion and removal.

2. Implants

Another long-term birth control option is the birth control implant, which is shaped like a match stick and can be implanted under your skin in your upper arm. The implant remains effective for about five years, according to Planned Parenthood. It works by releasing progestin. Progestin decreases your chances of ovulation, and it also thickens your cervical mucous to prevent sperm from reaching an egg.

The birth control implant is over 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy — as effective as an IUD. Many women experience lighter periods with this form of birth control, and you can have it removed if you want to become pregnant.

3. Injections

Hormonal injections are another option for long-term birth control. The shot is also 99 percent effective when administered every three months by your doctor, according to Healthline. Unlike with the implant and the IUD, there is nothing to remove if you decide you want to become pregnant again — you simply stop getting shots. Your fertility should return within 10 months after your last shot wears off.

The birth control shot contains progestin, the same hormone in the implant and many birth control pills. Since you get a large dose of progestin all at once with the shot, side effects can be more dramatic than with other forms of birth control. Some women experience irregular periods, changes in appetite, weight gain, and mood swings.

4. Essure

If you are confident that you do not want any more children, Essure is a permanent birth control option to consider. It’s a safer, less-invasive alternative to tubal ligation. Your gynecologist will implant two small devices — one in each fallopian tube — to stop eggs from traveling from your ovaries to your uterus. The insertion process takes about 35 minutes and does not require general anesthesia or incisions.

Essure is permanent; there is no follow-up or repeat treatments required as with the implant, IUD, or shot. It does not release hormones, so you do not have to worry about typical birth control side effects like moodiness and weight gain. However, Essure may not be safe for women who are taking medications to suppress their immune system, or those who have an allergy to metal.

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