There are dozens of birth control methods already on the market — and now there are four new ones ranging from a hormone-dispensing patch, to a birth control pill that reduces the number of periods a woman has to four a year.
The Berman sisters — sex therapist Laura Berman and urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman — gave Good Morning America the rundown on the latest choices.
"We have come a long way since the 1960s," Laura Berman said. "Women now have a range of options when it comes to contraception. It comes down to this: each woman should find the form of contraception that best fits her lifestyle and personal taste."
Ask yourself some important questions: Are you someone who can remember to take something on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Are you the hectic woman? The forgetful woman? The woman who is worried about her libido? The woman who wants her period or one who doesn't? Knowing the answers will help guide you in choosing the best birth control, she said.
Ring Makes Good Pill Alternative
One of the new choices is Nuvaring (Organon), which consists of a small, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina. The ring then delivers low doses of two female hormones, estrogen and progestin, into the woman's body.
It helps prevent pregnancy by suppressing ovulation and thickening the mucus on the cervix. The ring is inserted and left in for three weeks at a time. It is then removed and discarded while the woman has her period. A week later, a new ring is inserted.
"The advantage is this you can place it in and forget it for three weeks," Laura Berman said. "And then take it out for a week. And then put it back in for the next cycle."
The devices also have fewer side effects than with the traditional pill, including less bloating, headaches and sexual side effects like decreased arousal. The thinking is that because the hormones are locally delivered to the reproductive area as opposed to going into the whole body like the traditional pill there are fewer side effects, Berman said.
"The downside is a lot of women are not comfortable with their genitals and to insert and remove something from this area may be a barrier," Laura Berman said. A very small percentage of women and their partners said they could feel the device.
It was approved by the FDA in October 2001 and became available this year. When used properly, it is effective 98 to 99 percent of the time.
Inserted IUD Lasts for 5 Years
Mirena is an Intrauterine Device that is inserted or removed during a doctor visit with no surgical procedure. Mirena (Berlex) does not contain estrogen like other forms of IUDs and therefore there are no estrogen-related side effects or complications.
"You have to have a doctor insert this," Laura Berman said. "IUDs have a bad rap because of past issues with infertility, infection and diseases. This one is made of plastic and has no copper so the company says it is safer, especially for women who want to have kids later on. They can just take it out."