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All About Birth Control Options!


There are many, many options for birth control, thankfully! But how do you choose which is right for you? Hormones or no hormones? Patch or pill or IUD or that thing in your arm or that ring in your vagina?


What is safe for breastfeeding?

Will it cause me to gain weight?

My mom had breast cancer---is it safe for me to be on birth control?

I hear it can cause cancer or make it hard for me to get pregnant down the road...is that true


.....don't know where to begin?


Here is a basic guide!


First, Let's just run through the options, then get to the questions!


What is the birth control implant?

The birth control implant (Nexplanon) is a tiny, thin rod about the size of a matchstick. The implant releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant. A nurse or doctor inserts the implant into your arm and that’s it — you’re protected from pregnancy for up to 5 years. It’s get-it-and-forget-it birth control.


How does the implant work?

The birth control implant is a tiny, thin rod about the size of a matchstick. It’s also called Nexplanon and there’s a slightly older version called Implanon. A doctor inserts the implant under the skin of your upper arm. It releases the hormone progestin to stop you from getting pregnant.


The hormones in the birth control implant prevent pregnancy in two ways:

Progestin thickens the mucus on your cervix, which stops sperm from swimming through to your egg. When sperm can’t meet up with an egg, pregnancy can’t happen.

Progestin can also stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), so there’s no egg to fertilize. When eggs aren’t released, you can’t get pregnant.


One of the awesome things about the implant is that it lasts for a long time — up to 5 years — but it’s not permanent. If you decide you want to get pregnant or you just don’t want to have your implant anymore, we can take it out. You’re able to get pregnant quickly after the implant is removed.


Does the implant prevent STDs?

Nope. Nexplanon doesn't protect against STDs. Luckily, using condoms or internal condoms every time you have sex does lower your chances of getting or spreading STDs. So using condoms with your implant is the best way to prevent infections.

How effective is the implant?

The implant is one of the best birth control methods out there — it’s more than 99% effective. That means fewer than 1 out of 100 people who use Nexplanon will get pregnant each year. It doesn’t get much better than that.


The implant is so effective because there's no chance of making a mistake. Since it’s in your arm, you can’t forget to take it, or use it incorrectly. It protects you from pregnancy all day, every day for up to 5 years. If you decide you want to get pregnant, a nurse or doctor can take it out and you can get pregnant right away.


The implant doesn’t protect you from STDs, so use condoms along with the implant to help protect you from both pregnancy and STDs. That’s how you make sex worry-free.

How long does it take for the birth control implant to work?


If you get Nexplanon during the first 5 days of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away.


If you get the implant at any other time in your cycle, use some other form of birth control (like condoms) during the first week. After that first week, the implant starts working and you’re protected from pregnancy for up to 5 years. That’s why it’s called get-it-and-forget-it birth control.


Where can I get the birth control implant?


Nexplanon is offered at Hearthside Medicine and many other clinics in town.


How is the implant inserted?

First, your doctor or nurse will ask you some questions about your health to see if the implant — also called Nexplanon — is a good method for you. They may also give you a physical exam.

The doctor or nurse gives you a shot to numb a small area of your arm. Then, they use a special inserter tool to slide the implant under your skin. Putting the implant in only takes a few minutes.


How does it feel to get an implant inserted?

Most people just feel a little pinch or stinging when they get the numbing shot. After that, you shouldn’t be able to feel the implant being inserted. After the pain medication has worn off, your arm may ache a little where the implant was inserted, but it goes away quickly.

You may have some tenderness or swelling around the implant for a few days and it may look bruised for a week or two. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to wash and take care of the skin around your implant for the first couple of days.


How soon after getting the implant can I have sex?

You can have sex right away after getting the implant. But if you don’t get the implant during the first 5 days of your period, you should use some other type of birth control (like condoms) for the first week after getting your implant. (If you do get the implant during the first 5 days of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away.)

The implant may cause side effects for some people, but they usually go away after a few months. And some birth control implant side effects are positive.


What birth control implant side effects should I expect?

The hormones in the birth control implant may cause side effects in some people, but this doesn’t happen to everyone — many people use the implant with no problems at all. Negative side effects usually go away after a few months, once your body gets used to your implant. So if you just got the implant and you have side effects that bother you, try to stick it out and give your body a chance to adjust to the hormones.


The most common birth control implant side effect is spotting (light bleeding or brown discharge), especially in the first 6-12 months. Sometimes the implant causes long-term spotting, or periods can get longer and heavier. But for most people, the implant makes their periods way lighter. And some people even stop getting a period at all while they’re on the implant (don’t worry, this is totally safe).


Other possible side effects that aren’t as common include:

Headaches

Breast pain

Nausea

Weight gain

Ovarian cysts

Pain or bruising on your arm where the implant was inserted

An infection where the implant was inserted


If you don’t like the way the implant makes you feel after you've had it for a few months, it is easy to remove. We may suggest a different birth control method. Many people try a few different types of birth control before finding the right one for them. And remember: if you get the implant taken out and don’t use another birth control method, you’ll be at risk for pregnancy right away.


The hormones in the implant and other types of birth control have been around for decades, and millions of people have used them safely. Nexplanon side effects aren’t dangerous (though there are some possible risks with using the implant, like with any medicine).


Are there any positive Nexplanon side effects?


Side effects aren’t always a bad thing — many people use the implant because some of the side effects can be really helpful. The hormones in the implant can help with painful or heavy periods. The implant may ease cramps and PMS, and it will usually make your period lighter. 1 in 3 people even stop getting their period altogether after a year on the implant.

It’s totally safe to not get a period while you’re on the implant. And you don’t need to worry about being pregnant even if you don’t get a period, because the implant is really good birth control — it’s more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. (You can always take a pregnancy test if you want to be sure.)


What are the Nexplanon side effects after removal?


Any time there’s a change in your hormones — like when you go on or off hormonal birth control such as the implant — there’s a chance of temporary side effects. But they usually go away after a few months.


When you go off the implant, your body will eventually return to the way it was before you went on it. So if you stopped getting your period on the implant, your period will eventually come back after the implant is out. It can also take a few months for your period to go back to the cycle you had before you got the implant (but you can still get pregnant during this time).


Everyone’s body is different, and our bodies also change over time. So there’s no way to know exactly how your body will react to going off the implant. But any negative side effects that you may have will go away within a few months as your body gets used to being off the hormones.


Another important thing to note: you can get pregnant right away once the implant is out of your body (even if your periods aren’t regular). So if you stop using the implant but you don’t want to get pregnant, make sure to use another birth control method.

If you’re really worried about the side effects of going off the implant, talk with your nurse or doctor. They may be able to give you more specific information about what to expect based on your personal medical history.


The birth control implant (Nexplanon) may cause weight gain in some people while they’re using it, but this doesn’t happen to everyone. It’s not a very common side effect, and many people use the implant without gaining weight.


Everyone’s body is different, so birth control affects everyone a little differently. But birth control shouldn’t cause problems in your everyday life — it’s there to help you. So if you think the implant makes you gain weight and this bothers you, or if you notice other side effects that you don’t like,let us know! We can remove it! We may be able to help you find another type of birth control that works better for you. The pill, patch, ring, and IUD are methods that won’t affect your weight. Many people try a few different methods before finding one that works well for them. Once the implant is out of your arm, any side effects you had will fade. So if the implant causes you to gain weight, that should stop shortly after having the implant removed. And remember, once you stop using the implant, you’ll be at risk for pregnancy. So if you don’t want to get pregnant, make sure you use another method of birth control (like condoms). Can I get the birth control implant?


Most people can use the implant — also called Nexplanon — safely, but you shouldn’t use it if you’ve had breast cancer. Talk with your nurse or doctor about any other health conditions you have and you can decide together if the implant is a good fit for you.


What are the risks of using the birth control implant?


Serious problems with Nexplanon are rare, but they include arm pain that lasts for longer than a few days, an infection in the arm that needs medicine, or a scar on your arm where the implant goes.


Tell us if you have any of the following while using Nexplanon:


Bleeding, pus, discoloration, or pain in your arm where the implant was inserted that doesn’t go away

Yellowing of your eyes and skin

Much heavier or longer than normal bleeding from your vagina

The implant seems to have moved


Is it safe to use the implant while breastfeeding?


Yes, it’s safe to use the implant while you’re breastfeeding. It shouldn’t have any effect on how much milk you produce, and it won’t hurt your baby. In fact, the implant is a great method to use if you’re breastfeeding and you don’t want to get pregnant.

The implant is a super effective and convenient way to prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years — you get it, then forget it.


The implant Pros:


Birth Control implants are SUPER effective.


Nexplanon gives you great, long-term protection against pregnancy — it’s more than 99% effective. The implant works as well as sterilization and IUDs.


Implants are one of the most effective methods you can get because there’s almost no way you can mess it up. You can’t forget to use it or use it incorrectly. Implants are “set-it-and-forget-it” birth control.


The implant is convenient and private.


Once your Nexplanon is in, you barely have to think about it — it works until it expires or you have it taken out. That means no trips to the pharmacy, no pill to take or ring to put in, and nothing you have to do before sex to prevent pregnancy. Most of the time you can’t see the implant under your skin, so nobody knows you have it unless you tell them.


Implants make your periods better.


Nexplanon can help cut down on period cramps. It also makes your period way lighter — and 1 in 3 people with the implant stop getting their periods at all after a year.


Implants only have one hormone.


Many hormonal birth control methods contain two hormones, estrogen and progestin. Some people with certain health problems can’t use methods that contain estrogen. Nexplanon is super effective at preventing pregnancy AND it’s estrogen-free, so more people are able to use it.


You can get pregnant after taking out your implant.


Nexplanon is reversible. If you decide you want to get pregnant, you can get it removed at any time. The birth control implant won’t affect your fertility or make it harder to get pregnant in the future. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as your implant is out.

Some people get side effects that bother them after getting their implant, but these usually go away after a few months. Rarely, the side effects can be serious.


The implant Cons:

Like all medicines, there can be side effects with the implant. But many people adjust to the implant with no problems. Negative side effects usually go away after a few months, once your body gets used to your implant.


The most common side effect is irregular bleeding (aka spotting), especially in the first 6-12 months. But most people on the implant get lighter periods, or their periods stop altogether while they have the implant.


Other possible side effects that aren’t as common include headaches, breast pain, and nausea.


There may also be temporary pain, bruising, or an infection on your arm where you got the implant.


Birth control shouldn’t make you feel bad. Luckily, there are many different types of birth control, so you’ve got options. If you keep having side effects that bother you, talk with your nurse or doctor about trying another birth control method.


Birth control implants don’t protect against STDs.


Birth control implants are one of the best methods of birth control out there, but they don’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really reduces your chances of getting or spreading STDs. So using condoms + Nexplanon is the best way to protect yourself from pregnancy and STDs.



We will take your implant out of your arm after 5 years or whenever you want to stop using it. Nexplanon removal is usually fast and easy.


When should I get the birth control implant removed?


Nexplanon works for 5 years, and a nurse or doctor must remove it once it expires. You can also get your implant taken out any time before then if you want to get pregnant or stop using it.


If you’ve had your implant for 5 years and you still don’t want to get pregnant, you need to replace it (or pick another birth control method). You can get a new implant when you have the old one removed.


How does it feel to get the birth control implant removed?


Nexplanon removal only takes a few minutes, but the process is a little longer than getting it put in.


Just like with the insertion, a doctor or nurse gives you a shot to numb a small area of your arm. Then they make a small cut and remove the implant. You usually just feel a little pinch or stinging when you get the numbing shot. After that, it shouldn’t hurt when they make the incision or take the implant out.


If you want to continue using Nexplanon, you can get another implant put in during the removal of your old one.


How soon can I get pregnant after getting the implant removed?


It's possible to get pregnant right away. If you get your implant removed and you don’t want to get pregnant, use another method of birth control.


What should I expect after I get my implant removed?


Overall, you should feel completely normal after getting your implant taken out. Your arm may feel tender or swollen around where the implant was for a few days. It may look bruised for a week or two. Any side effects that you may have had while on the implant will eventually go away after the implant is out. Unless you start another hormonal birth control method after removing the implant, your period will go back to how it was before you got Nexplanon


What’s an IUD?


An IUD is a tiny device that's put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.


IUD stands for Intrauterine Device (basically: a device inside your uterus). It's a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. Sometimes it’s called an IUC — intrauterine contraception.


The types of IUDs:

There are 5 different brands of IUDs that are FDA approved for use in the United States: Paragard, Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla.

These IUDs are divided into 2 types: copper IUDs (Paragard) and hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla).


Non-hormone IUD: Paragard

The Paragard IUD doesn’t have hormones. It’s wrapped in a tiny bit of copper, and it protects you from pregnancy for up to 12 years.


Minimal hormones, Progesterone-only IUD:

The Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is very similar to the hormone progesterone that our bodies make naturally. Mirena works for up to 7 years. Kyleena works for up to 5 years. Liletta works for up to 7 years. Skyla works for up to 3 years.


How do IUDs work?


Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm cells move so they can't get to an egg. If sperm can’t make it to an egg, pregnancy can’t happen.

The Paragard IUD uses copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm doesn’t like copper, so the Paragard IUD makes it almost impossible for sperm to get to that egg.


The hormones in the Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla IUDs prevent pregnancy in two ways: 1) they thicken the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps the sperm, and 2) the hormones also sometimes stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there’s no egg for a sperm to fertilize. No egg, no pregnancy.


One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years — but they’re not permanent. If you decide to get pregnant or you just don’t want to have your IUD anymore, we can easily and quickly take it out. You’re able to get pregnant right after the IUD is removed.


Can IUDs be used as emergency contraception?


Yes! The Paragard (copper) IUD works super well as emergency contraception. If you get it put in within 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex, it’s more than 99.9% effective. It’s actually the most effective way to prevent pregnancy after sex.


Another great thing about using the copper IUD as emergency contraception: you can keep it and have really effective birth control that you can use for up to 12 years. The other kind of emergency contraception is the morning-after pill. You can take it up to 5 days after unprotected sex to reduce the risk of pregnancy.

How effective are IUDs when used as birth control?


IUDs are one of the best birth control methods out there — more than 99% effective. That means fewer than 1 out of 100 people who use an IUD will get pregnant each year.

IUDs are so effective because there's no chance of making a mistake. You can’t forget to take it (like the pill), or use it incorrectly (like condoms). And you're protected from pregnancy 24/7 for 3 to 12 years, depending on which kind you get. Once your IUD is in place, you can pretty much forget about it until it expires.


Do IUDs protect against STDs?


No, IUDs don't protect against STDs. Luckily, using condoms or internal condoms every time you have sex does lower the chance of getting or spreading STDs. So using condoms with your IUD is the way to go.


How is an IUD put in?


A medical provider puts the IUD in through your vagina and into your uterus. Some people feel cramps or pain, but it doesn't last long and medicine can help.


First, we will ask you some questions about your medical history. Then we’ll check your vagina, cervix, and uterus, and they may test you for STDs. You may be offered medicine to help open and/or numb your cervix before the IUD is put in.


To put the IUD in, the nurse or doctor will put a speculum into your vagina and then use a special inserter to put the IUD in through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus. The process usually takes 10-15 minutes.


IUDs can be put in at any point in your menstrual cycle, and you can usually get one put in right after giving birth or having an abortion.


How does it feel to get an IUD put in?


People usually feel some cramping or pain when they're getting their IUD placed. The pain can be worse for some, but luckily it only lasts for a minute or two.

At Hearthside Medicine, we often offer you pain medicine before you get the IUD to help prevent cramps. We also might inject a local numbing medicine around your cervix to make it more comfortable and prescribe you a medication to insert into your vagina the night before your IUD insertion to help open the cervix and make it easier to insert the IUD.


Some people feel dizzy during or right after the IUD is put in, and there's a small chance of fainting. You might want to ask someone to come with you to the appointment so you don't have to drive or go home alone, and to give yourself some time to relax afterward.


What can I expect after an IUD insertion procedure?


Many people feel perfectly fine right after they get an IUD, while others need to take it easy for a while. There can be some cramping and backaches, so plan on chilling at home after your appointment — it’s a great excuse to curl up on the couch with your favorite book or movie. Heating pads and over-the-counter pain meds can help ease cramps too.


You may have cramping and spotting after getting an IUD, but this almost always goes away within 3-6 months. Hormonal IUDs eventually make periods lighter and less crampy, and you might stop getting a period at all. On the flip side, copper IUDs may make periods heavier and cramps worse. For some people, this goes away over time. If your IUD is causing you pain, discomfort, or side effects you don’t like, call us!


Once you get the IUD, a string about 1 or 2 inches long will come out of your cervix and into the top of your vagina; don’t worry, you won’t notice it. The string is there so a nurse or doctor can remove the IUD later. You can feel the string by putting your fingers in your vagina and reaching up toward your cervix. But DON’T tug on the string, because you could move your IUD out of place or pull it out.


There's a very small chance that your IUD could slip out of place. It can happen any time, but it's more common during the first 3 months. IUDs are most likely to come out during your period. Check your pads, tampons, or cups to see if it fell out. You can also check your string to make sure it’s still there. If your IUD falls out, you’re NOT protected from pregnancy, so make sure to let us know and use condoms or another kind of birth control in the meantime.


Remember when you got your IUD (or write it down somewhere), so you’ll know when it needs to be replaced. The Paragard IUD should be replaced after 12 years. Mirena should be replaced after 7 years. Kyleena should be replaced after 5 years. Liletta should be replaced after 7 years. Skyla should be replaced after 3 years.


How soon after getting an IUD can I have sex?


You can have sex as soon as you want after getting an IUD, though we usually advise 5 days of no sex after placement.


You might need to use a backup method of birth control (like condoms) until the IUD starts to work — whether you're protected against pregnancy right away depends on what type of IUD you get and when it’s put in your uterus.


Paragard (copper), Mirena, and Liletta IUDs start working to prevent pregnancy as soon as they're in place.


Kyleena and Skyla IUDs start working to prevent pregnancy right away IF they’re put in during the first 7 days of your period. If you get a Kyleena or Skyla IUD at any other time during your cycle, protection starts after 7 days — in the meantime, use condoms or another kind of birth control to prevent pregnancy.


Hormonal IUD side effects and copper IUD side effects are different. Cramps and spotting with the IUD are common at first. But many IUD side effects go away or get less noticeable within a few months. And some IUD side effects are positive.


What hormonal IUD side effects should I expect?


Hormonal IUDs (like Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla) can cause side effects. But for most people, that’s actually a good thing — the most common hormonal IUD side effects usually help make your periods better.


Hormonal IUDs can cut down on cramps and PMS, and they usually make your periods much lighter. Some people stop getting their periods at all while they have their IUD (don’t worry, this is totally normal and safe). In fact, many people get hormonal IUDs to help with heavy or painful periods, to treat symptoms of endometriosis or PCOS, or because they just don’t want to bleed every month.


Other hormonal IUD side effects can include:


Pain when the IUD is put in, and cramping or back aches for a few days after

spotting between periods

irregular periods

These usually go away within 3–6 months, once your body gets used to the new visitor in your uterus. And they don’t happen to everyone — many people use hormonal IUDs with no problems at all.



Over-the-counter pain medicine (like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin) can usually help with IUD cramps. If you have cramping that doesn’t get better or is really painful, please tell us! We may need to check to make sure that your IUD is in the right place.


The changes in your periods while you have your IUD can make some people worry about how they’ll know they’re not pregnant. But you don’t really need to worry about being pregnant even if you don’t get a period, because the IUD is really good at what it does — it’s more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.


If you do think you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test and call us right away if it’s positive. It’s very rare to get pregnant while you have an IUD, but if it does happen, it’s more likely to be an ectopic pregnancy, which can be dangerous and needs medical attention right away.


The hormones in these IUDs and other types of hormonal birth control (like the implant and shot) have been around for decades, and millions of people have used them safely. Hormonal IUD side effects aren’t dangerous, though there are some possible risks with using IUDs, like with any medicine.


What copper IUD side effects should I expect?


The copper IUD (aka Paragard IUD) has no hormones, so you don’t have to deal with any of the risks or side effects that can sometimes happen with hormonal birth control methods.

But copper IUDs often cause more bleeding and cramps during your period, especially in the first 3-6 months. For many people, this gets better over time.


Paragard side effects can include:

spotting between periods

irregular periods

heavier or longer periods

more or worse cramping during your periods

pain when your IUD is put in, and cramping or back aches for a few days after


Over-the-counter pain medicine can help with IUD cramps. And the cramping and bleeding usually get better after a few months, once your body gets used to your IUD.


Birth control shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable. If you have bleeding or pain that really bothers you, please tell us! We may need to check and make sure your IUD is in the right place, or we might recommend a different method of birth control for you. Some people try a few different birth control methods before finding the right one for them. The copper IUD has been around for decades, and millions of people have used it safely, though there are some possible risks, like with any medical device.


Are there IUD removal side effects?


You may have some spotting for a little while after your nurse or doctor takes out your IUD, but otherwise you should feel totally normal.


When you stop using an IUD, your body will eventually return to the way it was before you got it. So if your period got heavier on the copper IUD, it will go back to what was normal for you before you got the IUD. If you stopped getting your period on the hormonal IUD, your period will eventually come back after the IUD is out. It can take a few months for your period to go back to what’s normal for you.


An important thing to note: you can get pregnant right away once your IUD is out, even if your periods aren’t regular or haven’t come back yet. So if you have your IUD removed but you don’t want to get pregnant, make sure to use another birth control method.


Everyone’s body is different, and our bodies also change over time. So there’s no way to know exactly how your body will react to going off the IUD. But any side effects that you may have will go away within a few months as your body gets used to not having an IUD anymore.


Will it make me gain weight?


There’s been a lot of research on common IUD side effects. And studies show that hormonal IUDs like Liletta, Skyla, Kyleena, and Mirena don’t make you gain weight.


The hormone-free copper IUD — called Paragard — doesn’t make you gain weight either.

There are 2methods of birth control that may cause weight gain in some people who use them: the birth control shot and the birth control implant. But this doesn’t happen to everybody who uses these types of birth control. Many people use the shot or the implant without gaining weight.


Everyone’s body is different, so birth control affects everyone a little differently. But birth control shouldn’t cause problems in your everyday life — it’s there to help you.


If you’re having spotting after sex when you have an IUD, call us, especially if you’re also having pain. This may be a sign that your IUD is out of place. Frequent spotting after sex can also be a symptom of another health problem.


Your birth control shouldn’t make you uncomfortable, and neither should sex. If you’re having pain or spotting after sex when you have an IUD, please let us know!


Can hormonal IUDs lower your sex drive?


IUD sex drive side effects aren’t common. But a very small number of people may notice that the hormones in hormonal IUDs (like Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena, and Skyla) affect their sex drive.


If you think your IUD is messing with your sex drive and it bothers you, let us know!

The Paragard (copper) IUD doesn’t have hormones, so it has no possible IUD sex drive side effects.

Is IUD hair loss a thing? What about nausea with an IUD?


IUD nausea and hair loss are not normal side effects when you have an IUD. If you’re having nausea or hair loss that’s not normal for you, call your nurse or doctor. These things might be caused by another health condition.


Can I get an IUD?


Most people can use IUDs safely, but there are some conditions that make side effects or complications more likely. Talk to your nurse or doctor to find out if IUDs are safe for you.

You may not be able to get an IUD if you

have certain STDs or pelvic infection

think you might be pregnant

have cervical cancer that hasn't been treated

have cancer of the uterus

have had a pelvic infection after either childbirth or an abortion in the past 3 months

You also shouldn't get a Paragard IUD if you have a copper allergy, Wilson's Disease, or a bleeding disorder that makes it hard for your blood to clot.

You shouldn't get a hormonal IUD if you have had breast cancer.


Very rarely, the size or shape of someone’s uterus makes it hard to place an IUD correctly.


What are the risks of an IUD?


There are possible risks with an IUD, but serious problems are really rare.

The IUD can sometimes slip out of your uterus — it can come all the way out or just a little bit. If this happens, you can get pregnant. If the IUD only comes out part of the way, we have to remove it.


Don’t use a menstrual cup with an IUD. Using a menstrual cup can cause your IUD to move out of place. If you do decide to use a menstrual cup, you need to check your IUD strings monthly, and contact your us if your IUD strings are missing.


It’s possible — though extremely unlikely — to get pregnant even if your IUD is in the right spot. If you get pregnant, we will need to remove your IUD as soon as possible. If you get pregnant with an IUD in place, there’s an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and other serious health problems.


It’s possible to get an infection if bacteria gets into your uterus when the IUD is put in. If the infection isn't treated, it may make it harder for you to get pregnant in the future.


When the IUD is put in, it could push through the wall of your uterus. This sounds painful, but it usually doesn't hurt. But if this happens, you may need surgery to remove the IUD. However, this is very rare.


What warning signs should I know about?


Chances are that you’ll have no problems with your IUD. But it's still important to pay attention to your body and how you feel after you get your IUD.

Here are the warning signs to watch out for.


Call us right away if:

the length of your IUD string feels shorter or longer than it was

you can feel the hard plastic bottom of the IUD coming out through your cervix

you think you might be pregnant

you have bad cramping, pain, or soreness in your lower belly or stomach

there’s pain or bleeding during sex

you get unexplained fever, chills, or have trouble breathing

your vaginal discharge is different than normal

you have vaginal bleeding that is heavier than usual

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has an STD, see your nurse or doctor for any tests or treatments you may need.


Is it safe to use the IUD while breastfeeding?


Yes, it’s safe to use the IUD while you’re breastfeeding. It shouldn’t have any effect on how much milk you produce, and it won’t hurt your baby. In fact, the IUD is a great method to use if you’re breastfeeding and you don’t want to get pregnant.

IUDs are one of the best ways to prevent pregnancy, and they last for years. You can get it, forget it, and still be protected.


Benefits of IUDs


IUDs are VERY effective.


IUDs give you great, long-term protection against pregnancy — they’re more than 99% effective. They work as well as sterilization and the birth control implant. IUDs are one of the most effective methods you can get because there’s almost no way you can mess it up. You can’t forget to use it (like the pill or ring), or use it incorrectly (like condoms).


IUDs are “set-it-and-forget-it” birth control.


IUDs are REALLY convenient.

Once your IUD is in, you barely have to think about it — it works until it expires or you have it taken out. That means no trips to the pharmacy, no pill to take or ring to put in, and nothing you have to do before sex to prevent pregnancy. Plus you’re protected against pregnancy for 3 to 12 years, depending on what kind you get.


You can get pregnant after taking out an IUD.


IUDs are reversible. If you decide you want to get pregnant, you can get it removed at any time. IUDs won’t affect your fertility or make it harder to get pregnant in the future. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as your IUD is out.


IUDs can make your periods better.


Hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla) can cut down on cramps and make your period way lighter. Some people totally stop getting periods at all. Hormonal IUDs can help treat people who suffer from severe cramps, really heavy periods, and anemia.

The copper IUD doesn’t have hormones.


Some people prefer non-hormonal birth control, or can’t use methods with hormones because of medical problems. Luckily, the Paragard (copper) IUD is super effective at preventing pregnancy AND totally hormone free.


IUD Cons:


Some people have side effects after getting an IUD. Hormonal IUDs and copper (non-hormonal) IUDs have different side effects.


Your side effects will probably ease up after about 3–6 months, once your body gets used to your IUD. So if you can stick it out for a few months, there’s a good chance any side effects you’re having will eventually go away or be less noticeable. You can keep track of any side effects you're experiencing with our birth control app. If you’re still having pain or other side effects that bother you after a while, or your side effects are really bad, tell us!


IUDs don’t protect against STDs.


While IUDs are one of the best ways to prevent pregnancy, they don't protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex reduces the chance of getting or spreading STDs. So the thing to do is to use condoms with your IUD.

There are some risks with the IUD, but they’re rare.


Serious problems from IUDs are not at all common, but there are some risks and warning signs to look out for.


IUD insertion can hurt, but the pain doesn’t last long


The process of getting your IUD placed can be painful for some people. It usually feels like strong period cramps. But the good news is, it’s really quick — the worst part is usually over in less than a minute, and then you’ve got really effective birth control that you don’t have to think about for several years. If you’re worried about pain, let us know! We can help!


Even if the insertion is not exactly a fun time, lots of IUD users think it’s totally worth it in the end. Hormonal IUDs usually make your periods much lighter and less crampy. And for people who can’t use or don’t want to use hormonal methods (but still want super-effective, non-permanent birth control), copper IUDs are a really great option. So many people are willing to deal with a few minutes of pain in exchange for years of really effective birth control along with the other benefits of IUDs.


Can non-hormonal IUDs cause weight gain?


Nope! The copper IUD (Paragard) doesn’t cause weight gain.

Because the copper IUD is hormone-free, it doesn’t have many side effects at all. Some people do have heavier, longer periods and more cramping, especially for the first few months.


Remember — everyone has a different reaction to each type of birth control, so it’s about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor or nurse and be patient. It might take a few tries to find your perfect method.

Your IUD will protect you from pregnancy for 3 to 12 years, but your doctor or nurse can take it out any time before that if you like. Removal is simple.


How will it feel to get my IUD removed?


Getting your IUD taken out is pretty quick and simple. A health care provider gently pulls on the string, and the IUD’s arms fold up and it slips out. You may feel cramping for a minute as it comes out.


There’s a small chance that your IUD won’t come out easily. If this happens, your nurse or doctor may use special instruments to remove it. Very rarely, surgery may be needed.

When should I get my IUD removed?


You can get your IUD taken out whenever you want. If your IUD is going to expire but you still don’t want to get pregnant, you’ll have to replace it.


Paragard should be replaced after 12 years.

Mirena should be replaced after 7 years.

Liletta should be replaced after 7 years.

Kyleena should be replaced after 5 years.

Skyla should be replaced after 3 years.


What should I expect after I get my IUD removed?


You should feel completely normal after getting your IUD taken out. You may have some light bleeding after IUD removal, and some slight cramping during and right after removal.

Any side effects that you may have had while you were on the IUD will eventually go away after your IUD is out. Unless you start a hormonal birth control method after getting your IUD out, your period will go back to how it was before you got your IUD.


How soon can I get pregnant after getting my IUD removed?


Your fertility goes back to normal right after your IUD is out, so it's possible to get pregnant right away. If you get your IUD removed and you don’t want to get pregnant, use another method of birth control.

How do hormonal IUDs work?


IUD stands for Intrauterine Device — a birth control method that sits inside your uterus. A hormonal IUD is a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. The hormonal IUD releases a tiny amount of the hormone progestin into your body over several years. Progestin is very similar to the hormone progesterone that our bodies make naturally.


The hormones in the IUD help prevent pregnancy, and can also help with painful or heavy periods while you’re using it.


Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm cells away from your eggs. If sperm can’t make it to an egg, pregnancy can’t happen. The hormones in the IUD prevent pregnancy in two ways:


1) Hormonal IUDs make the mucus on your cervix thicker. This mucus blocks sperm so it can’t get to an egg.

2) The hormones in the IUD can also stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there’s no egg for a sperm to fertilize. No egg = no pregnancy.

One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years, but they’re not permanent. If you decide that you want to get pregnant, or if you just don’t want to have your IUD anymore, your nurse or doctor can take it out. After you get your IUD removed, your fertility goes back to what's normal for you.


What are the kinds of hormonal IUDs?


There are four brands of hormonal IUDs available in the U.S.: Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. They all work the same and have the same kind of hormone in them. Different hormonal IUDs last for different lengths of time: the Mirena and Liletta IUDs work for up to 7 years. Kyleena works for up to 5 years. Skyla works for up to 3 years.


You don’t have to keep your IUD for that many years though — you can get your IUD taken out whenever you want. If your IUD is going to expire but you want to keep using an IUD, we can replace it.


What are the benefits of a hormonal IUD?


In addition to preventing pregnancy, many people use hormonal IUDs to help with period problems. Hormonal IUDs can cut down on cramps and make your period way lighter. Some people stop getting their periods at all while they have the IUD. Hormonal IUDs can also help treat the symptoms of things like endometriosis and PCOS.


There are lots of other benefits to IUDs. They’re super convenient — once your IUD is in place, you don’t have to think about birth control for several years.


IUDs are also one of the most effective methods of birth control you can get. They’re more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. And if you decide you want to get pregnant, you can get your IUD removed whenever you want and your fertility will go back to what’s normal for you right away.


What are the disadvantages of a hormonal IUD?


Some people have side effects like spotting, irregular periods, or cramping after getting a hormonal IUD. But this usually goes away within 3–6 months, once your body gets used to your IUD.


IUDs are one of the most effective and convenient ways to prevent pregnancy, but they don't protect you from sexually transmitted infections. So use condoms with your IUD every time you have sex to lower the chance of getting or spreading STDs.


What hormones are in the different hormonal IUDs?


All hormonal IUDs use the same hormone — progestin — to prevent pregnancy and help treat painful and heavy periods. Progestin is a safe, synthetic form of a hormone called progesterone that your body makes naturally.


Mirena hormones are the same as in all other hormonal IUDs — Mirena uses progestin to prevent pregnancy and make your periods lighter and less painful. Liletta, Kyleena, and Skyla also have progestin in them.


Some hormonal IUDs have a little bit more progestin than others. But the amount of hormones in an IUD only affects how long it lasts — it doesn’t change how well your IUD prevents pregnancy.


All hormonal IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.


How do copper IUDs work? (non-hormonal)


IUD stands for Intrauterine Device — a birth control method that sits inside your uterus. A non-hormonal IUD is a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T that has copper wrapped around it. That’s why it’s also called the copper IUD.


Non-hormonal IUDs use copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm doesn’t like copper — it changes the way sperm cells move so they can’t swim to an egg. If sperm can’t make it to an egg, pregnancy can’t happen.


One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years, but they’re not permanent. If you decide that you want to get pregnant, or if you just don’t want to have your IUD anymore, your nurse or doctor can take it out. After you get your IUD removed, your fertility goes back to what's normal for you.


What are the kinds of non-hormonal IUDs?


There’s only one brand of copper IUD in the U.S. It’s called the Paragard IUD. It lasts for up to 12 years.


You don’t have to keep your IUD for 12 years though — you can get your IUD taken out whenever you want. If your IUD is going to expire but you want to keep using an IUD, your nurse or doctor can replace it.


What are the benefits of non-hormonal IUDs?


The copper IUD is really good at preventing pregnancy, and it’s totally hormone free. So it’s a good option for people who prefer non-hormonal birth control, or can’t use methods with hormones because of medical reasons.


The copper IUD is unique because it can be used as emergency contraception — a way to prevent pregnancy AFTER unprotected sex. Paragard IUDs are the most effective form of emergency contraception. If you get one inserted within 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex, it’s more than 99.9% effective against pregnancy. And you can leave your copper IUD in to keep preventing pregnancy for as long as you want, up to 12 years.

There are lots of other benefits to IUDs too. They’re super convenient — once your copper IUD is in place, you don’t have to think about birth control for up to 12 years. IUDs are also one of the most effective methods of birth control you can get. They’re more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. But if you decide you want to get pregnant, you can get your IUD removed whenever you want and your fertility will go back to what's normal for you right away.


What are the disadvantages of non-hormonal IUDs?


Non-hormonal (copper) IUDs can make your periods heavier and cause cramping, especially in the first 3-6 months.


And you may have some IUD cramps when you first get your IUD. For many people, these side effects get better once your body gets used to the IUD. So if you can stick it out for a few months, there’s a good chance the side effects will ease up.


It’s normal to have some cramping during your period with a copper IUD. But if your cramps are really bad and over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help, tell us!


It’s also a good idea to call us if you’re still having bad IUD cramps after a year, or you have pain or IUD cramps when you’re not on your period — this can be a sign your IUD has moved, and they may want to check to make sure it’s still in place.


IUDs are one of the most effective and convenient ways to prevent pregnancy, but they don't protect you from sexually transmitted infections. So use condoms with your IUD every time you have sex to lower the chance of getting or spreading STDs.


Birth Control Pills


What is the birth control pill?

Birth control pills are a kind of medicine with hormones. Birth control pills come in a pack, and you take 1 pill every day. The pill is safe, affordable, and effective if you always take your pill on time. Besides preventing pregnancy, the pill has lots of other health benefits, too.

There are two kinds of birth control pills:

Combination pills (aka combined oral contraceptives, or COCs)

Combination pills have both estrogen and progestin

These are the most common type of birth control pill

Progestin-only pills (aka POPs or mini pills)

Progestin-only pills only have progestin



How do birth control pills prevent pregnancy?

The birth control pill works by stopping sperm from joining with an egg. When sperm joins with an egg it’s called fertilization.

The hormones in the pill safely stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen.

The pill’s hormones also thicken the mucus on the cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it can’t swim to an egg — kind of like a sticky security guard.


How do I make the pill work best for me?

Forgetting pills, losing the pack, not refilling your prescription on time — these are the main reasons why people might get pregnant when they use the pill. It’s good to plan ahead and think about the best way for you to use the pill correctly. Here are some ways to help you remember to take your pills every day:

Use a birth control reminder app or set an alarm on your phone.

Keep your pill pack next to something you use every day (like your toothbrush or phone charger).

Keep your pills in your bag so they’re always with you.

Be pill buddies with friends or family members who also take medicine every day, and help each other remember.

Your partner can help remind you.

Do whatever works to help you take your pill on time, all the time.

Want to be super duper sure you don’t accidentally get pregnant? You can also use a condom every time you have penis-in-vagina sex. That way you’ll be protected from STDs too.

Does the pill protect against STDs?

Nope. The pill is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers your chances of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy — so using condoms + birth control pills together gives protection from STDs AND awesome pregnancy-preventing power.

When you take the pill every single day, it’s great at preventing pregnancy. But missing pills, taking certain medications, and other things may make it not work as well.


How effective is the birth control pill?

If you use it perfectly, the pill is 99% effective. But people aren’t perfect and it’s easy to forget or miss pills — so in reality the pill is about 91% effective. That means about 9 out of 100 pill users get pregnant each year.

The better you are about taking your pill every day and starting your pill packs on time, the better the pill will work.. But there’s a very small chance that you could still get pregnant, even if you always take your pills correctly.

If you want a method that’s even better at preventing pregnancy, check out IUDs and the implant. They’re the best at preventing pregnancy. But if you decide the pill is right for you, make sure you always take your pills on time so they work as well as possible.

What lowers the birth control pill’s effectiveness?

The main thing that makes the pill not work is not taking it every day. But other things, like vomiting or having diarrhea for more than 48 hours (2 days) may lower how well the pill prevents pregnancy.

These medicines or supplements can also make the pill not work as well:

• The antibiotic Rifampin (other antibiotics don’t make the pill less effective)

• The antifungal Griseofulvin (other antifungals don’t make the pill less effective)

• Certain HIV medicines

• Certain anti-seizure medicines (these are sometimes also used to treat psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder)

• The herb St. John’s Wort

If you take any of these while you’re on the pill, use condoms as a backup method. Switch to a different method of birth control if you’ll be on them for a long time.


How long do birth control pills take to work?

It depends on when you start taking them and what type of pills you’re using. You can start taking the birth control pill any day of the month. But depending on when you start and the kind of pill you’re using, you may need to use a backup birth control method — like condoms — for up to 7 days.


Combination Pills (COCs)

If you start combination pills within 5 days after the first day of your period, you’ll be protected from pregnancy right away. For example, if you get your period Monday morning, you can start the pill anytime until Saturday morning and be protected from pregnancy that same day.

If you start combination pills any other time, you need to take the pill for 7 days before you’ll be protected from pregnancy. So use another method of birth control — like a condom — if you have penis-in-vagina sex during your first week on the pill.


Progestin-Only Pills (POPs or Mini Pills)

You can start progestin-only pills any day of the month. You’ll be protected from pregnancy after 48 hours (2 days). So use another method of birth control (like condoms) if you have penis-in-vagina sex during the first 48 hours.

Slynd (a different type of progestin-only pill) is the exception. If you start taking Slynd on day 1 of your period, you’ll be protected from pregnancy right away. If you start taking Slynd at any other time in your cycle, use another method of birth control (like condoms) if you have penis-in-vagina sex during the first 48 hours

The birth control pill may cause side effects for some people, but they usually go away after a few months. And some birth control pill side effects are positive.

What birth control side effects should I expect while taking the pill?

The hormones in birth control pills may cause side effects in some people. But this doesn’t happen to everyone — many people use the pill with no problems.

After starting the pill, some people may have:

Headaches

Nausea

Sore breasts

Changes in your periods (early, late, or stopping altogether while on the pill)

Spotting (bleeding between periods or brown discharge)

The good news is that these side effects usually go away in 2-3 months. So if you just started the pill and you have side effects that bother you, try to stick it out and give your body a chance to adjust to the hormones.

Birth control shouldn’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. If you still don’t like the way the pill makes you feel after a few months, talk with your nurse or doctor. They may suggest another brand of pill or a different birth control method. Some people try a few different types of pills or birth control methods before finding the right one for them.

And remember: if you stop taking the pill and don’t use another birth control method, you’ll be at risk for pregnancy right away.

The birth control pill has been around for decades, and millions of people have used it safely. Birth control pill side effects aren’t dangerous (though there are some possible risks with taking the pill, like with any medicine.



Are there good birth control pill side effects?

Side effects aren’t always a bad thing — many people use the pill because some of the side effects can be really helpful. For example, the hormones in the pill can help with painful, heavy, or irregular periods. The pill may ease cramps and PMS, and it will usually make your period lighter and more regular. You can even use the combination pill to safely skip your period.

The changes in your periods while on the pill can sometimes make people worry about being pregnant. But the chance of pregnancy is very low as long as you’re taking your pill every day. If you’re worried, you can always take a pregnancy test to be sure.

Some types of birth control pills can also help prevent acne, iron deficiency (anemia), bone thinning, cysts in your breasts and ovaries, and certain cancers.


What are the side effects of stopping the birth control pill?

Any time there’s a change in your hormones — like when you go on or off hormonal birth control such as the pill — there’s a chance of temporary side effects. But they usually go away after a few months.

When you go off the pill, your body will eventually return to the way it was before you went on it.

So if the pill made your periods lighter, your periods will probably get heavier once you stop using it. It can also take a few months for your period to go back to the cycle you had before you started taking the pill. And if the pill helped clear up your skin, your acne may come back after you go off the pill. But everyone’s body is different, and our bodies also change over time. For example: you’re less likely to have acne after puberty, so if you started taking the pill in your teens but go off it in your 20s, you may have naturally grown out of your acne by then.

Another important thing to note: you can get pregnant right away once you stop taking the pill (even if your periods aren’t regular). So if you’re going off the pill but you don’t want to get pregnant, make sure to use another birth control method.

There’s no way to know exactly how your body will react to going off the pill, but any negative side effects that you may have will go away within a few months as your body gets used to being off the hormones.

If you’re really worried about the side effects of going off the pill, talk with your nurse or doctor. They may be able to give you more specific information about what to expect based on your personal medical history.



Nope. There’s been a ton of research on the birth control pill, and studies show that using the pill does not make you gain weight. And there are no birth control pills that make you lose weight.

Some people think that the hormones in the pill cause weight gain or weight loss, but that’s not true. The same goes for the birth control ring and birth control patch — these methods of birth control have the same hormones that are in most birth control pills, so the patch and ring won’t change your weight either. The hormonal IUD and the copper IUD also won’t lead to weight gain or loss.

There are 2 methods of birth control that may cause weight gain in some people who use them: the birth control shot and the birth control implant. But this doesn’t happen to everybody who uses these types of birth control. Many people use the shot or the implant without gaining weight.

Everyone’s body is different, so birth control affects everyone a little differently. But birth control shouldn’t cause problems in your everyday life — it’s there to help you. So if you think your birth control is making you gain or lose weight and this bothers you, or if you notice other side effects that you don’t like, talk with us!

Many people try a few different methods of birth control before finding one that works well for them. And remember, if you stop taking the pill, you can get pregnant right away. So if you want to go off the pill but don’t want to get pregnant, make sure you use another method of birth control (like condoms).

make sure you use another method of birth control (like condoms).



Breakthrough bleeding is when spotting happens while you’re not on your period. Breakthrough bleeding while you’re on the birth control pill is normal and usually nothing to worry about.

There are many reasons why you may have breakthrough bleeding while on the pill. Hormones in the birth control pill cause changes in your periods as your body adjusts. For most people, this side effect goes away within the first 2-3 months of starting the pill. So giving your body time to get used to the new hormones is important. If you make a mistake with your birth control pills or take the pill continuously (skipping your hormone-free week), you’re more likely to have breakthrough bleeding, even after the first 2-3 months of being on the pill.

Other things can cause spotting or irregular bleeding that are unrelated to the pill, like uterine fibroids, PCOS, smoking cigarettes, or having certain STDs. Always let us know about any irregular or abnormal bleeding!

Breakthrough bleeding while on the birth control pill is common. And while it isn’t usually anything to worry about, it can be annoying. The good news is that these side effects usually go away in the first 2-3 months of starting the pill. Your body takes time to adjust to the hormones in the pill. If the bleeding continues for longer, speak to your nurse or doctor about what may be causing it.


Here are a few things that may help lessen your breakthrough bleeding:

Stay on schedule with your pills, and try not to miss any.

Wait it out a few months to see if your body adjusts and the breakthrough bleeding stops on its own.

If you’re taking the pill continuously and skipping your hormone free week, try scheduling a period every few months. This gives the uterus a chance to shed any built-up lining to reduce irregular spotting and bleeding.

Explore other methods of birth control. Everyone’s body reacts a little differently to different birth control methods, and sometimes it takes a few tries to figure out what works best for you. Even within “the pill” as a method, there are lots of different kinds that may affect your periods and bleeding differently.


Is the birth control pill safe?


There’s a good chance the pill will be totally safe for you — most people can take it with no problems. The pill has been around for more than 50 years, and millions of people have used it safely.



Can I take the birth control pill?


Like with all medications, the pill isn’t for everyone.

Smoking and birth control pills don’t always mix. If you’re over 35 and a smoker, you shouldn’t use the combination pill (COCs) or any other kind of birth control that contains the hormone estrogen. You can take progestin-only pills (POPs or mini pills) if you’re a smoker.

Also avoid using combination pills if you’ve had:

Blood clots, an inherited blood-clotting disorder, or vein inflammation

Breast cancer

Heart attack, stroke, angina, or other serious heart problems

Migraine headaches with aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)

Uncontrolled high blood pressure

Very bad diabetes or liver disease

Avoid using progestin-only pills if you’ve had:

Certain forms of lupus

Breast cancer

Avoid using Slynd (a type of progestin-only pill) if you’ve had:

Kidney disease

Adrenal insufficiency

Liver disease

Cervical, breast, ovarian, uterine, or endometrial cancer


What are the risks of birth control pills?


Even though birth control pills are very safe, using the combination pill can slightly increase your risk of health problems. Complications are rare, but they can be serious. These include heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. In very rare cases, they can lead to death. For the most part, progestin-only pills (aka POPs or mini pills) don’t have these risks.

When talking to us about birth control, tell us about any medications you’re taking and any health problems you’ve had.

There’s a very slight chance that you can get pregnant even if you always take the pill correctly every day. But if you do get pregnant and accidentally take the pill during the early part of your pregnancy, it won’t increase the risk of birth defects.

It’s important to remember that the chance of having any of these problems while taking birth control pills is really, really low for most people. In fact, pregnancy is more likely to cause serious health problems than the pill. Your doctor or nurse can help you figure out which types of birth control will be safest for you.


What warning signs should I know about?

Most people on the pill won’t have any problems at all. But just in case, it’s good to know what the signs of a serious issue are.

See us or another medical provider right away if you have:

sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating, or trouble breathing

chest pain or discomfort

achy soreness in your leg

trouble breathing

severe pain in your belly or stomach

sudden, very bad headache

headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual

aura — (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)

yellowing of your skin or eyes


Is it safe to take the pill while breastfeeding?


Combination pills (COCs) may reduce the amount and quality of your breast milk in the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding. If you’re nursing, wait at least 3 weeks after giving birth to start using combination pills. Your breast milk will contain traces of the pill's hormones, but it’s not likely that these hormones will have any effect on your baby. Talk with your nurse or doctor if you have any concerns about breastfeeding while using the pill.

Progestin-only pills (AKA POPs or mini pills) are fine to use while you're breastfeeding. In fact, using the mini pill and breastfeeding shouldn’t have any effect on how much milk you produce, and won't affect your baby.


Can I take the birth control pill if I have high blood pressure?


It depends. Birth control pills that contain the hormone estrogen aren’t a good idea for people with high blood pressure because they can actually raise your blood pressure. Depending on your age, how well your blood pressure is controlled, and other risk factors, your nurse or doctor can help you decide whether the pill is safe for you.

There are 4 estrogen free (progestin-only) hormonal methods that are safe to use for people with high blood pressure, including progestin-only pills, the birth control shot, the birth control implant, and hormonal IUDs


What are the different types of birth control pills?


There are 2 types of birth control pills (combination pills and progestin-only pills), and many different brands.

Combination Pills (COCs):


Combination pills have 2 hormones: estrogen and progestin. Combination pills are the most common type of birth control pill.

As long as you take 1 pill every day, you’ll be protected from pregnancy. You don’t have to take your combination pill at the exact same time every day. But taking it at the same time is a good idea because it helps keep you in the habit of remembering your pill.

Progestin-Only Pills (aka POPs or Mini Pills):

Progestin-only pills have 1 kind of hormone (progestin) — these pills don’t have any estrogen. You must take your progestin-only pill within the same 3 hours every day to be protected from pregnancy.

The one exception is Slynd (a different type of progestin-only pill): you don’t need to take Slynd within the same three-hour window every day, but it’s best to take it around the same time if you can to help keep you on schedule.


How do I use the different types of birth control pills?


Combination Pills (COCs):

As long as you take 1 pill every day, you’ll be protected from pregnancy. You don’t have to take your combination pill at the exact same time every day. But taking it at the same time is a good idea because it helps keep you in the habit of remembering your pill. You can also use an alarm, calendar reminder, or birth control app to help you remember. Most combination pills come in 28-day or 21-day packs.

If you have 28-day packs:

Take 1 pill every day for 28 days (four weeks) in a row, and then start a new pack on day 29. The last pills in 28-day packs of combination pills do not have hormones in them. These pills are called "reminder" or “placebo” pills — they help remind you to take your pill every day and start your next pack on time. How many days you take hormone-free reminder pills depends on the brand of pill. Most pill packs have hormone-free pills for 7 days, but sometimes there are less. The reminder pills may contain iron or other supplements. You get your period during the week you take these reminder pills. You’ll still be protected from pregnancy even if you don’t take the reminder pills — just remember to start your next pack on time.

If you have 21-day packs:

Take 1 pill every day for 21 days (3 weeks) in a row. Then don’t take any pills for seven days (week 4). You’ll get your period during the fourth week while you aren’t taking any pills. It’s important to take every pill in a 21-day pack because there are no reminder (hormone-free) pills. The hormone pills will prevent pregnancy even if you have sex during the week when you don’t take any pills. Start your next pack after not taking your pills for 7 days — you may want to use an alarm or reminder to help you stay on track.

If you have 91-day packs:

Some combination pills have 12 weeks (3 months) of hormone pills in a row, followed by up to 1 week of hormone-free reminder pills. This is so you’ll only have your period once every 3 months. The hormones will prevent pregnancy even if you have sex during the reminder pill week. You can also use other pill brands to skip your period by skipping the reminder pills.


Progestin-Only Pills (aka POPs or Mini Pills):

You must take progestin-only pills within the same 3 hours every day to be protected from pregnancy. For example, if you take your progestin-only pill at 12:00 p.m., taking it after 3:00 p.m. the next day puts you at risk for pregnancy. Alarms, reminders, or birth control apps can help you take your pill on time.

Progestin-only pills only come in 28-day (4 week) packs. All 28 pills have hormones. You must take every pill in a progestin-only pack to be protected from pregnancy — there is no hormone-free week. You may get your period during the fourth week. You could also have bleeding on and off throughout the month (spotting), or get no period at all.

There’s also a new type of progestin-only pill called Slynd that’s a little different than other POPs. Slynd packs have 24 “active” hormone pills and 4 hormone-free “reminder” (placebo) pills. And you don’t need to take Slynd within the same 3 hours every day — as long as you take one pill every 24 hours, you’ll be protected from pregnancy.


How do I use the pill to stop my period?


Skipping your period with the combination pill is safe and super easy. Basically you just take a pill with hormones every day and skip your hormone-free “reminder” pills. You can do this two ways:

You can use a brand of pills that has 3 months of hormone pills in a row, so you only get your period 4 times a year.

You can skip the hormone-free reminder pills in your pack and jump right to the next pack. You can do this every month, or just whenever you want to skip your period.

You may have some bleeding or spotting when you use the pill to skip your period — that’s totally normal. If you skip your hormone-free week every month, the spotting should go away after about 6 months.

There’s nothing dangerous or harmful about using the pill to skip your period. And it comes in really handy if you want a special occasion (like a vacation or a hot date) to be period-free.

You can only skip your period with combination pills. If you’re using a progestin-only pill (POP or Mini Pill), you need to take every pill in your pill pack.


What do I do if I missed a birth control pill?

The pill works best if you take it every day on schedule, but almost everyone on the pill forgets to take it sometimes. Knowing what to do when you miss a birth control pill is important.

Use a condom anytime you have vaginal sex until you can talk to us. If you’ve already had sex in the last 5 days since making a pill mistake, you may want to use emergency contraception.

If you’re on Slynd (a type of progestin-only pill) and you miss 1 white hormone pill, take your missed pill as soon as possible, and then take your next pill when you were normally supposed to — that might mean taking 2 pills in 1 day. If you miss 2 or more white pills, take the most recent pill you missed as soon as possible, and keep taking 1 pill a day until you finish the pack (1 or more of your older missed pills will be left in the pack). If you miss 2 or more white pills and have penis-in-vagina sex within the next 7 days, use a backup method of birth control (like condoms). If you miss 1 or more green reminder pills, just throw away the green pills you missed and keep taking 1 pill a day until you finish the pack.


When can I start taking birth control pills?


You can start taking birth control pills as soon as you get them — any day of the week, and anytime during your menstrual cycle. But when you’ll be protected from pregnancy depends on when you start and the kind of pill you’re using. You may need to use a backup birth control method (like condoms) for up to the first 7 days.

Talk with your nurse or doctor about the best time for you to start taking the pill.

Combination Pills (COCs):

You can start the combination pill at any time.

If you start taking combination pills within 5 days after your period starts, you’ll be protected from pregnancy right away. For example, if you get your period Monday morning, you can start the pill anytime until Saturday morning and be protected from pregnancy right away.

If you start combination pills any other time, you need to take the pill for 7 days before you’re protected from pregnancy. Use another method of birth control — like a condom — if you have penis-in-vagina sex during the first week on the pill.

Progestin-Only Pills (POPs or Mini Pills):

You can start progestin-only pills at any time. You’ll be protected from pregnancy after 48 hours (2 days) on the pill. If you have penis-in-vagina sex during those first 2 days, use another method of birth control, like a condom.

You must take progestin-only pills at the same time every day. If you take it more than 3 hours past your usual time, use a backup method of birth control for the next 48 hours (2 days).

A new type of progestin-only pill called Slynd works a little differently. If you start taking Slynd on day 1 of your period, you’ll be protected from pregnancy right away. If you start taking Slynd at any other time in your cycle, use another method of birth control (like condoms) if you have penis-in-vagina sex during the first 48 hours (2 days). And you don’t need to take Slynd within the same 3 hours every day, like you do with other progestin-only pills.

Starting the Pill After Pregnancy:


You can get pregnant again shortly after being pregnant, so talk with your nurse or doctor about starting your birth control as soon as you can.

You can start taking the progestin-only pill right after an abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.

You can start taking the combination pill right after an abortion or miscarriage. In general, you can start taking the combination pill 3 weeks after giving birth (but wait 3 weeks whether you're breastfeeding or not).


What do I do if I want to get pregnant?


If you decide you want to get pregnant, just stop taking the pill. No matter what kind of birth control pill you’re on, it’s possible to get pregnant right after you stop taking it. It can take a few months for your period to go back to the cycle you had before you started taking the pill, but you can still get pregnant during that time.


Birth Control Pros:


The birth control pill is a safe, simple, and convenient way to prevent pregnancy. It also has other benefits like reducing acne, making your periods lighter and more regular, and easing menstrual cramps.


The pill is an effective way to prevent pregnancy.

If you follow the instructions and use the birth control pill correctly, it gives you great protection against pregnancy.


All you have to do is stick to your daily pill schedule, and make sure you start your new packs on time — that’s it. But if you miss or forget pills, it won’t work as well.

You can use condoms along with your birth control pills to get extra protection from pregnancy. Bonus: condoms also help protect against STDs.


The pill has health benefits.

Side effects aren’t always a bad thing, and birth control pills aren’t just for birth control. The pill has many perks besides pregnancy prevention.

Both combination and progestin-only pills reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods, and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy.


The combination pill can also help prevent or lessen:

acne

bone thinning

cysts in your breasts and ovaries

endometrial and ovarian cancers

serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus

iron deficiency (anemia)

PMS (premenstrual syndrome)

The pill can make your periods better.

Lots of people like the pill because it makes their periods regular and easy to predict. The hormones in the pill can also reduce menstrual cramps and make your period lighter.

You can also use the pill to safely skip your period, which is totally convenient for people who want a special occasion to be period-free, or just don’t want a visit from Aunt Flo every month.

You can get pregnant right away when you stop taking the pill.

Many people on the pill want to have kids when the time is right. One of the great things about the birth control pill is you can get pregnant right after you stop taking it.


After you stop taking the pill, it can take a few months for your periods to return to the cycle you had before you started using it. Once in a while, people have irregular periods or no periods at all for a few months. This is more likely if your periods were irregular before you started taking the pill.


Even if your regular period doesn’t come back right away, it’s still possible to get pregnant when you’re not taking the pill. So if you’re going off the pill but don’t want to get pregnant, start using another birth control method right away.

The pill is convenient.


Taking the birth control pill is easy, but remembering to take it every day can be hard. Luckily, pill packs are small — about the size of a cell phone — so you can carry your pills with you wherever you go.

The pill is birth control you don’t have to think about during sex. If you take the pill correctly, you’re protected from pregnancy all day, every day. Many people say the pill makes their sex lives better because they don’t have to interrupt sex or worry about pregnancy.


The Pill Cons:


Remembering to take a pill every day can be hard. And some people get side effects that bother them (but they usually go away in a few months).

You have to take the pill every day.

It’s really important to take your birth control pill every day, or you might not be protected from pregnancy.

There can be negative side effects.

Like all medications, birth control pills can have side effects. But most usually go away after 2 or 3 months.

The most common side effects are spotting or bleeding between periods (this is more common with progestin-only pills), sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. But these usually go away after 2 or 3 months, and they don’t happen to everyone who takes the pill.

If you keep having side effects that bother you after using the pill for 3 months, tell us! But don’t stop taking the pill without starting a new method, or you won’t be protected from pregnancy.

There can be some rare but serious risks.

Serious problems from taking the birth control pill are very rare. People using birth control that has estrogen, like combination pills, have a slightly higher chance of having a few rare but dangerous problems than people who don’t use birth control with hormones.


The side effects of stopping birth control pills are different for each person, just like the side effects of using them.


The hormones in the pill leave your body in a few days. That means any side effects you experienced while using it will go away pretty quickly. Yes, this includes the positive ones like clearer skin and lighter periods. However, it can take a few weeks to several months for your regular menstrual cycle to return.


Here are some side effects you might experience:

PMS symptoms come back

Mood changes, including a change in sex drive

Changes in vaginal discharge

Change in your periods

Skin changes, like more acne if you had that before taking the pill

Your ability to get pregnant returns as soon as you stop the pill, so if you don’t want to get pregnant right away, keep using your birth control (or use a different method like condoms) until you can get to a doctor or nurse. They can help you make a plan for switching to a new method.

Your periods might be irregular for a while. If you don’t get your period within 3 months after stopping birth control pills, check in with us to rule out any problems.


What is the birth control ring?


The birth control ring (AKA the vaginal ring, or the ring) is a safe and convenient birth control method that works really well if you always use it correctly. You wear a small, flexible ring inside your vagina, and it prevents pregnancy 24/7 by releasing hormones into your body. The ring has lots of other health benefits, too. There are 2 kinds of birth control rings: NuvaRing and ANNOVERA.


How Does NuvaRing Work?


Each NuvaRing lasts for up to 5 weeks. You take your old NuvaRing out of your vagina and put in a new one about once a month, depending on the ring schedule you choose. You can also use NuvaRing to safely skip your period if you want to.

One ANNOVERA ring lasts for 1 year (13 cycles). You put the ANNOVERA ring in your vagina for 21 days (3 weeks), then take it out for 7 days — ANNOVERA comes with a case to safely store it during your ring-free week. After 7 ring-free days, put ANNOVERA back in your vagina.


How does the birth control ring prevent pregnancy?


The ring works by stopping sperm from joining with an egg (which is called fertilization).

Like most birth control pills, the ring contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. These are similar to the hormones our bodies make naturally. You wear the ring inside your vagina, and you absorb the hormones into your body though your vaginal lining.

The hormones in the ring stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen.

The ring’s hormones also thicken the mucus on your cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it can’t swim to an egg — kind of like a sticky security guard.


How do I make the ring work best for me?


To get the vaginal ring's full birth control powers, you have to use it correctly. Making a mistake — like forgetting to refill your prescription or not putting your ring in on time — is the main reason why people might get pregnant when they’re using the ring.

Here are some ways to help make sure you stay on schedule:

Use a birth control app or set an alarm on your phone.

Use a calendar to mark the days you need to take out the ring, put in the ring, and get a new ring.

Be birth control buddies with friends or family members who also use the ring, and help each other remember.

Your partner can help remind you.

It’s also important to take care of your birth control ring properly:

Keep your ring(s) in the same place so you don’t lose them.

Store NuvaRings at room temperature, and away from direct sunlight for up to 4 months (16 weeks). Keep any NuvaRings that you won’t use within 4 months in the refrigerator.

When you take ANNOVERA out, wash the ring with mild soap and lukewarm water, pat it dry with a clean paper towel or cloth, and store it in the case. Keep ANNOVERA away from children, pets, and extreme temperatures when it’s out of your body.

When ANNOVERA is in your vagina, don’t use any vaginal products with oil or silicone in them — no oil or silicone-based suppositories, creams, gels, or lubricants. Water-based lubes are OK to use.

Bottom line: do whatever works for you to make sure you use the ring correctly and replace it on time, all the time.

Want to be extra sure you don’t accidentally get pregnant? You can also use a condom every time you have penis-in-vagina sex. That way you’ll be protected against STDs, too.

Does the ring protect against STDs?

Nope. The birth control ring is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers the chance of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy — so using condoms and the ring together gives you awesome pregnancy-preventing power.

When you use NuvaRing or ANNOVERA correctly, it’s great at preventing pregnancy. But forgetting to put your ring in on time, taking certain medications, and other things may make it not work as well.


How effective is the birth control ring?


If you use it perfectly, the ring is 99% effective. But people aren’t perfect and it can be easy to make a mistake — so in reality the ring is about 91% effective. That means about 9 out of 100 ring users get pregnant each year.

The better you are about putting the ring in your vagina on schedule, the better it will work. But there’s a very small chance that you could still get pregnant, even if you always use the ring correctly.

If you want a method that’s even better at preventing pregnancy and more convenient, check out IUDs and the implant. They’re the best at preventing pregnancy and the easiest to use, since you don’t have to remember to do anything for it to work. But if you decide the ring is right for you, make sure you always stay on schedule so it works as well as possible.


What makes the ring less effective?


The main thing that makes the ring not work is not using it correctly.

That means you’re more likely to get pregnant if:

You don’t put your ring in on time every cycle.

Your NuvaRing ring is out of your vagina for more than 2 days (48 hours) in a row during the weeks when your ring should be in your vagina.

Your ANNOVERA ring is out of your vagina for more than 2 hours at a time, or at different times that add up to more than 2 hours total during the 21 days you’re supposed to have it in.

These medicines or supplements can also make NuvaRing and ANNOVERA not work as well:

• The antibiotics Rifampin, Rifampicin, and Rifamate (other antibiotics don’t make the ring less effective)

• The antifungal Griseofulvin (other antifungals don’t make the ring less effective)

• Certain HIV medicines

• Certain anti-seizure medicines (these are sometimes also used to treat psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder)

• The herb St. John’s Wort

If you take any of these while you’re on the ring, use condoms as a backup method. Switch to a different type of birth control if you’ll be taking them for a long time.

The birth control ring may cause side effects for some people, but they usually go away after a few months. And some birth control ring side effects are positive.

What are some ANNOVERA or NuvaRing side effects that could happen?

The hormones in NuvaRing and ANNOVERA birth control rings may cause side effects in some people. But this doesn’t happen to everyone — many people use the ring with no problems.

After starting the ring, some people may have:

Headaches

Nausea

Sore breasts

Changes in your periods (early, late, or stopping altogether while on the ring)

Spotting (light bleeding or brown discharge)

More vaginal wetness

The good news is that these side effects usually go away in 2-3 months. So if you just started using the ring and you have side effects that bother you, try to stick it out and give your body a chance to adjust to the hormones.

Remember: if you stop using the ring and don’t use another birth control method, you’ll be at risk for pregnancy right away.

The hormones in the ring and other types of birth control have been around for decades, and millions of people have used them safely. Birth control ring side effects aren’t dangerous (though there are some possible risks, like with any medicine).


Are any birth control ring side effects positive?


Side effects aren’t always a bad thing — many people use the ring because some of the side effects can be really helpful. For example, the hormones in the ring can help with painful, heavy, or irregular periods. The ring may ease cramps and PMS, and it will usually make your period lighter and more regular. You can even use NuvaRing to safely skip your period.

The changes in your periods while on the ring can sometimes make people worry about being pregnant. But the chance of pregnancy is very low as long as you’re using the ring correctly. If you’re worried, you can always take a pregnancy test to be sure.

The birth control ring can also help prevent acne, iron deficiency (anemia), bone thinning, cysts in your breasts and ovaries, and certain cancers.


If I go off the birth control ring, what side effects could I have?


Any time there’s a change in your hormones — like when you go on or off hormonal birth control such as the ring — there’s a chance of temporary side effects. But they usually go away after a few months.

When you go off the ring, your body will eventually return to the way it was before you went on it. So if the ring made your periods lighter, your periods will probably get heavier once you stop using it. It can also take a few months for your period to go back to the cycle you had before you started using the ring. And if the ring helped clear up your skin, your acne may come back after you go off the ring.

But everyone’s body is different, and our bodies also change over time. For example: you’re less likely to have acne after puberty, so if you started using the ring in your teens but stop using it in your 20s, you may have naturally grown out of your acne by then.

Another important thing to note: you can get pregnant right away once you stop using the ring (even if your periods aren’t regular). So if you’re going off the ring but you don’t want to get pregnant, make sure to use another birth control method.

There’s no way to know exactly how your body will react to going off the ring, but any negative side effects that you may have will go away within a few months as your body gets used to being off the ring.


Do Rings Cause Weight Gain?


Nope! Birth control rings like NuvaRing and Annovera don’t change your weight.

There’s lots of research on the hormones in the birth control ring, and studies show these hormones don’t cause weight gain or weight loss. The same goes for the birth control pill and birth control patch — these methods of birth control use the same hormones, so they won’t cause you to gain or lose weight either. The hormonal IUD and the copper IUD also won’t lead to weight gain or loss.


There are 2 methods of birth control that may cause weight gain in some people who use them: the birth control shot and the birth control implant. But this doesn’t happen to everybody who uses these types of birth control. Many people use the shot or the implant without gaining weight.


Are ANNOVERA and NuvaRing safe?


There’s a good chance birth control rings will be totally safe for you — most people can use them with no problems. The hormones in the ring are the same ones in most birth control pills, and millions of people have used these hormones to safely prevent pregnancy for more than 50 years.


Who can’t use birth control rings?

Like all medicines, the ring isn’t for everyone.

Smoking and birth control rings don’t always mix. If you’re over 35 and a smoker, don’t use NuvaRing, ANNOVERA, or any other kind of birth control that contains the hormone estrogen.

Also avoid using the ring if you’ve had any of these health problems:

blood clots, an inherited blood-clotting disorder, or vein inflammation

breast cancer

heart attack, stroke, angina, or other serious heart problems

migraine headaches with aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)

uncontrolled high blood pressure

very bad diabetes or liver disease

Talk with your doctor or nurse about your health history. They can help you decide if the ring is right for you.

NuvaRing and ANNOVERA rings are latex-free, so they’re safe for people with latex allergies.


What are the risks of NuvaRing and ANNOVERA?

Even though birth control rings are very safe, using a form of birth control that has estrogen can slightly increase your risk of certain health problems. This isn't common and complications are rare, but they can be serious. ANNOVERA and NuvaRing risks include heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. In very rare cases, they can lead to death.

When you talk with us about birth control, tell us about any medicines you’re taking and any health problems you’ve had.

There’s a very small chance that you can get pregnant even if you always use the ring correctly. But if you do get pregnant and accidentally use the ring during the early part of your pregnancy, it won’t increase the chances of birth defects.

It’s important to remember that the chance of having any of these problems while using the ring is really, really low for most people. In fact, pregnancy is more likely to cause serious health problems than birth control like the ring. Your doctor or nurse can help you figure out which birth control method will be safest for you.


What warning signs should I know about?


Most people using the ring won’t have any problems at all. But just in case, it’s good to know what the signs of a serious issue are.

See a doctor or nurse right away if you have:

sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating, or trouble breathing

chest pain or discomfort

achy soreness in your leg

trouble breathing

severe pain in your belly or stomach

sudden, very bad headache

headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual

aura — (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)

yellowing of your skin or eyes


Is it safe to use birth control rings while breastfeeding?


The estrogen in the ring may lower the amount and quality of your breast milk in the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding. If you’re nursing, wait at least 3 weeks after giving birth to start using the ring.

Your breast milk will contain traces of the ring's hormones, but it’s not likely that these hormones will have any effect on your baby. Talk with your nurse or doctor if you have any concerns about breastfeeding and birth control.

Using the ring is easy: just put a small, flexible ring into your vagina once every 3-6 weeks, depending on your schedule. If you’re using NuvaRing, you can choose to get a period every month, or you can skip it — it’s totally up to you.


How do I put in and take out the vaginal ring?


It’s easy to put in the ring:

Check the expiration date on the package. If the expiration date has already passed, don’t use that ring.

Wash your hands with soap and water

Take the ring out of the wrapper or case

If you’re using ANNOVERA, wash your ring with mild soap and lukewarm water, then pat it dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Do this every time you put in your ANNOVERA ring.

Squeeze the sides of the ring together with your fingers and gently push it deep into your vagina.

Don’t worry about the exact placement of the ring in your vagina — if you can’t feel it when you’re walking around, it’s in correctly. If the ring feels uncomfortable, try pushing it in deeper or moving it around in your vagina with your finger. The ring can't get lost in your vagina or be in too deep. You can leave your ring in during sex or any other kind of physical activity.

When it’s time to take your ring out, just hook your finger through the ring and gently pull it out of your vagina.

If you’re using ANNOVERA, wash your ring with mild soap and lukewarm water, pat it dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel, and store it in its case at room temperature, away from kids and pets.

Once you’re done with your ring, put it in its case or foil wrapper and throw it in the trash. You can also wrap it in toilet paper, but using the case or foil wrapper is better for the environment because it helps keep any hormones that are left in the ring from getting into the soil and water. Don’t flush the ring down the toilet.

How do I use ANNOVERA?

One ANNOVERA ring has enough hormones in it to last for 13 cycles (1 year).

Using ANNOVERA is simple: keep the ring in your vagina for 21 days (3 weeks), and then take it out for 7 days (1 week) — this ring-free week is usually when you’ll get your period. After 7 ring-free days, put your ANNOVERA ring back in your vagina for the next 21 days.

Take out your ring and put it back in on the same day of the week every time. For example, if you put your ring in on a Sunday, take it out 3 weeks later on a Sunday. Then put it back in 7 days later on the following Sunday. So your “insertion day” and “removal day” will always be a Sunday.

It’s okay if you’re still bleeding or spotting when it’s time to put your ring back in — that’s normal. You can safely use tampons, menstrual cups, and pads with your ANNOVERA ring in. Just be careful not to pull the ring out when you remove a tampon or menstrual cup.

Wash your ANNOVERA ring with mild soap and lukewarm water anytime you take it out of your vagina and before you put it back in. ANNOVERA comes with a case you can keep it in whenever it’s not in your body. Store ANNOVERA away from extreme temperatures, pets, and kids. Don’t keep your ANNOVERA ring in the refrigerator.

As long as you start using ANNOVERA on or before the expiration date on the package, it will last for 1 year after you put it in your vagina.

How do I use NuvaRing?

One NuvaRing has enough hormones in it to last for up to 5 weeks. You have a few different options for ring schedules, and you can choose to get a period or choose to skip it. All of these schedules work just as well to prevent pregnancy.

If you want to get your period:

Wear a ring for 3 weeks (21 days), 4 weeks (28 days), or 5 weeks (35 days). Then take it out for the next week (7 days) — that’s when you’ll get your period. After 7 ring-free days, put in a new ring.

Take out your old ring and put a new one in on the same day of the week every time. For example, if you put a new ring in on a Sunday, take it out 3, 4, or 5 weeks later on a Sunday. Then put a new ring in 7 days later on the following Sunday. So your “removal day” and “new ring day” will always be a Sunday.

It’s okay if you’re still bleeding or spotting when it's time to put in a new ring — that’s normal. You can safely use tampons, menstrual cups, and pads with your NuvaRing in (just be careful not to pull the ring out when you remove a tampon or menstrual cup).

If you want to skip your period:

Skipping your period with NuvaRing is safe and super easy. Just keep the ring in your vagina at all times, and swap it out for a new one every 3-5 weeks. You can do this 2 ways:

Pick a date and always change your ring on that date. So if you put your first ring in on the 15th of the month, you always change your ring on the 15th of every month. (It’s ok that some months are longer than others.)

Wear the ring for 3 weeks (21 days), 4 weeks (28 days), or 5 weeks (35 days). Then take out your old ring and put in a new ring. Change your ring on the same day of the week every time — so if you put your ring in on a Monday, change it every 3, 4, or 5 weeks on a Monday.

You may have some bleeding or spotting when you use the ring to skip your period — that’s totally normal. If you skip your period week every month, the spotting should go away after several months.

There’s nothing dangerous or harmful about using NuvaRing to skip your period. And it comes in really handy if you want a special occasion (like a vacation or a hot date) to be period-free.

What do I do if I mess up using the ring?

Even though the ring is easy to use, accidents can happen — you might not change your ring on time, or it may be out of your vagina for too long.

If you’ve already had sex in the last 5 days since making a ring mistake, you may want to use emergency contraception.

If you’re using ANNOVERA and you:

Leave the ANNOVERA ring out of your vagina for more than 2 hours at one time

Leave the ANNOVERA ring out of your vagina at different times that add up to more than 2 hours total during the 21 days you’re supposed to have it in

Don’t put the ANNOVERA ring back in your vagina on time after your ring-free week

Wash the ring with soap and water and put it back in as soon as you can. Then use a backup birth control method (like condoms) until the ring has been back in your vagina for 7 days in a row. If you’ve already had sex in the last 5 days since making a ring mistake, you may want to use emergency contraception.

If you leave ANNOVERA in your vagina for more than 21 days, that’s OK. Just take it out for 7 days as soon as you can and restart your normal schedule — after 7 ring-free days, put the ring back in for 21 days, and repeat. You don’t need backup birth control or emergency contraception.


When can I start using the birth control ring?


You can start using the birth control ring as soon as you get it — any day of the week, and anytime during your menstrual cycle.

If you put your first ring in within 5 days after your period starts, it will start working right away. For example, if you get your period Monday morning, you can start using the ring anytime until Saturday morning and be protected from pregnancy right away.

If you start using the ring at any other time in your cycle, it needs to be in your vagina for 7 days before it will start protecting you from pregnancy. Use another method of birth control — like a condom — if you have penis-in-vagina sex during your first week on the ring.



Do I have to take the ring out during sex?



Nope. In fact, it’s best to leave the ring in your vagina as much as possible. NuvaRing and ANNOVERA are made to be worn all the time, including during sex. If it bothers you or your partner, try moving the ring around until it feels comfortable.

If you do take the ring out during sex, rinse it in lukewarm (not hot) water and put it back in when you’re done. Just make sure you remember to put it back in as soon as you can.

If you leave an ANNOVERA ring out of your vagina for more than 2 hours at a time, or at different times that add up to more than 2 hours total during the 21 days you’re supposed to have it in, you won’t be protected from pregnancy.

If you leave a NuvaRing out of your vagina for more than 2 days during the weeks you’re supposed to wear it, you won’t be protected from pregnancy.

If your ring has been out of your vagina for too long, use a backup birth control method (like condoms) until the ring has been in your vagina for 7 days in a row.

Don’t use lube that has oil or silicone in it while the ring is in your vagina. Water-based lubes are safe to use.


How should I store my rings?


You can store NuvaRings at room temperature away from direct sunlight for up to 4 months. After 4 months, keep your NuvaRings in the refrigerator. Read the storage instructions on the package, and always check the expiration date before putting in a new NuvaRing.

The ANNOVERA ring comes with a small case you can keep it in when it’s not in your vagina. Store ANNOVERA at room temperature and away from kids and pets. Don’t put ANNOVERA in the refrigerator. If you start using ANNOVERA on or before the expiration date on the package, it will last for 1 year (13 cycles) after you put it in your vagina.


What do I do if I want to get pregnant?


If you decide you want to get pregnant, just take your ring out and throw it away.

It’s possible to get pregnant right after you stop using the ring. It can take a few months for your period to go back to the cycle you had before you started using it. But it’s still possible to get pregnant during that time, even if your period isn’t regular or you haven’t gotten your period yet since you stopped using the ring.

Birth control rings are a safe, simple, and convenient way to prevent pregnancy. The ring also has other benefits like reducing acne, making your periods lighter and more regular, and easing menstrual cramps.

The ring is an effective way to prevent pregnancy.

If you follow the instructions and use birth control rings the right way, they give you great protection against pregnancy.

Just put your ring in on time, every time. And make sure it’s in your vagina when it’s supposed to be. That’s all you have to do.

You can use condoms along with the ring to get extra protection from pregnancy. Bonus: condoms also help protect against STDs.


Ring Pros:


The ring is convenient.

Using the birth control ring is easy and convenient. It’s great for people who don’t want to deal with taking a pill every day, or who don’t want to use birth control that you have to think about right before you have sex.

Depending on how you use it, you only have to think about your ring once or twice a month, when you’re inserting and removing it.

But always remembering to put a new ring in on time can be hard.

The ring is birth control you don’t have to think about during sex. If you use the ring correctly, you’re protected from pregnancy all day, every day. Many people say the ring makes their sex lives better because they don’t have to worry about birth control or pregnancy during sex.

If you use NuvaRing, you may be able to pick up several rings at once or have them mailed to you every month. And ANNOVERA is extra convenient because 1 ring lasts for 1 year — that means you only need to worry about getting your birth control once a year.

The ring can make your periods better.

Lots of people like the birth control ring because it makes their periods regular and easy to predict. The hormones in the ring can also help with menstrual cramps and make your period lighter.

You can also use NuvaRing to safely skip your period, which is totally convenient for people who want a special occasion to be period-free, or just don’t want a visit from Aunt Flo every month.

The birth control ring has health benefits.

Side effects aren’t always a bad thing, and the ring isn’t just for birth control. The ring has many perks besides pregnancy prevention.

The ring can help prevent or lessen:

acne

bone thinning

cysts in your breasts and ovaries

ectopic pregnancy

endometrial and ovarian cancers

serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus

iron deficiency (anemia)

PMS (premenstrual syndrome)

You can get pregnant right away when you stop using the ring.

Many people who use birth control want to have kids when the time is right. One of the great things about the birth control ring is you can get pregnant soon after you stop using it.

After you stop using the ring, it usually takes 1-2 months for your periods to return to the cycle you had before you started using it. Once in a while, people have irregular periods or no periods at all for a few months. This is more likely if your periods were irregular before you started using the ring.

Even if your period doesn’t come back right away, it’s still possible to get pregnant when you’re not using the ring. So if you’re going off the ring but don’t want to get pregnant, start using another birth control method right away.


Ring Cons:


Remembering to put a new ring in on time might be hard. And some people get side effects that bother them (but they usually go away in a few months).

You have to stay on schedule.

It’s really important to always put your ring in on time, or you might not be protected from pregnancy.

If you have a really busy life and think you won’t stay on top of your ring schedule, check out other birth control methods like IUDs or the implant that are super low-maintenance and almost impossible to mess up.

There can be negative side effects.

Like with all medicines, the birth control ring can have some side effects. But most usually go away after 2 or 3 months. Many people use the ring with no problems at all.

The most common side effects are spotting or bleeding between periods, sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. But these usually go away after 2 or 3 months, and they don’t happen to everyone who uses the ring. You may also have a little extra vaginal wetness when using the ring.

If you keep having side effects that bother you after using the ring for 3 months, talk with your nurse or doctor about trying another birth control method. But don’t stop using the ring without starting a new method if you can, or you won’t be protected from pregnancy.

There can be some rare but serious risks.

Serious problems from using the ring are very rare. People using birth control that has estrogen, like the birth control ring, have a slightly higher chance of having a few rare but dangerous problems than people who don’t use birth control with hormones.


Resources/References:

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control

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