5 Family Planning Options

February 2019

Discover the basics of these methods to help meet your long-term family planning goals.

One of the family planning options that can help you meet your long-term goals is birth control pills.

When it comes to long-term family planning goals, couples have plenty of options to consider while they determine when and if parenthood is right for them. While it’s best to discuss all family planning options with your provider so they can help tailor your choice based on your health and plans for the future, here are five methods to consider:

  1. Barrier methods
  2. Combined hormonal methods
  3. IUDs
  4. Nexplanon contraceptive implants
  5. Natural family planning

Keep reading to learn more about each method, their potential benefits and drawbacks, and key factors to keep in mind when discussing each option with your doctor.

  1. Barrier methods

Male or female condoms can be used on their own or in conjunction with another method below. While male condoms are theoretically 98% effective when used correctly, the actual success rate is 85% to account for human error. Note that the success rate for female condoms is lower at 75-82% with normal use. Brands made from latex or polyurethane are safest, and versions with spermicide are available for an extra layer of protection.

One drawback to condoms is that some people or their partners find them less comfortable to use. If you decide to address this by adding a lubricant, make sure to use a water- or silicone-based variety, instead of formulas containing oil, which can cause condoms to break. Learn more about how to use condoms effectively here.

  1. Combined hormonal methods

One combined hormonal family planning option is the birth control pill. Popularly known as “the pill,” this family planning option provides a combined dose of estrogen and progestin in amounts formulated to prevent pregnancy. With perfect use, it is 92-99% effective, so if you’re good at forming habits, it can help you meet your long-term family planning goals.

However, some women may struggle to remember to take the pill every day, and inconsistent use increases the chances of pregnancy. Some women also experience physical or emotional side effects from taking the pill, which varies for everyone. Inform your provider of any symptoms so you can decide whether to switch to other family planning options that may better suit you. Certain oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast and cervical cancer for some women while simultaneously decreasing the risk of endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancer. It is important to discuss these concerns and any of your other potential cancer risk factors with your provider.

Other combined hormonal family planning options include the patch, a bandage-like adhesive for your skin that you change every week, and a flexible plastic vaginal ring that you insert into your vagina once a month. Both options use hormones that can help prevent pregnancy. Like the pill, you may experience side effects and adhering to a regular schedule is critical to their success.

  1. IUDs

IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are one of the most long-lasting birth control options. There are several different kinds, and once they are inserted into the uterus, they remain effective for years. You don’t have to worry about upkeep or remember a daily task, and the devices are over 99% effective.

In the U.S., most types of IUDs are hormonal, including the Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena. A hormone-free exception is ParaGard, often called the “copper IUD.” However, like with most birth control, side effects are possible, and some women may experience temporary discomfort when the device is inserted.

Since there is variation among the types, your doctor can help you decide which IUD may be best for you. They will account for factors like your period flow, whether you’ve had children before, your future long-term family planning goals, and how long you’d like the device to last.

  1. Nexplanon contraceptive implant

Contraceptive implants like Nexplanon are another long-lasting birth control option to consider. These small, flexible rods shaped like matchsticks are placed under the skin of your arm. They’re designed to release a low dose of hormones that help prevent pregnancy and can be easily removed when you’re ready to resume fertility.

Nexplanon can help protect you from pregnancy for up to three years. If you wish to continue use, visit your women’s health clinic to have the implant replaced with a new one. As with any family planning option, be sure to discuss the possible side effects and risks of a contraceptive implant with your gynecologist before choosing this method.

  1. Natural family planning

A natural family planning method does not use any devices or medication. It relies on a combination of several different strategies that help you understand when you are fertile so you can avoid intercourse or use barrier methods during the ovulation period. It involves tracking your menstrual cycle, recording your daily temperature with a basal thermometer, and noting the appearance of your cervical mucus.

Natural family planning is an active, hands-on method to understand your fertility on any given day. However, it is only about 80% effective, making your chances of an unplanned pregnancy higher than most other family planning options.

Explore more information about these and other birth control methods here to help you determine the best one for you. For help from experts you can trust, make an appointment to discuss your own long-term family planning goals with our women’s health team today!

This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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