10 Yoga Poses For Moms

Photo Credit Judie Hurtado, Sheknows. (2011)

I love yoga. I think every other mom on the planet loves yoga too. It’s great for when you are feeling a little lazy and don’t want to jog or run. It’s great for rainy days as well. I remember at one point I got shin splints from doing too hard of running right off the bat without easing my body in to jogging. I had to switch to yoga until my legs healed. Yoga was perfect for that!

Here are some of my favorite yoga poses and other great poses for moms.

Getting Started: What Should I Know?

criss cross
Photo Credit Madhavi Dandu, urbanwired. (2014)

Before we get started I want to talk about the proper way to do yoga. You should be on a yoga mat or carpet, something comfortable that isn’t going to hurt your joints or your hands and knees. Make sure your space is quiet and comfortable. Take deep breaths in the criss cross sitting position (I call it criss cross applesauce, fishies in the pond). Relax. Let your shoulders and your jaw drop. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly.

When you are breathing while doing yoga you should inhale deep enough that your abdomen inflates. You should be inflating your abdomen then fill your chest. This is very important. Each pose should be about 10-12 breaths. If you are more experienced you can do up to 30 breaths. Each pose should be held roughly 3 minutes at a time.

Yes, you will struggle at first if you haven’t done yoga before, or you are getting back in to a routine. Don’t get discouraged. Keep on it. You will only build muscle and tone your body from here on out. Don’t forget it helps strengthen your core and helps your balance as well.

1) Warrior Pose

Yoga warrior pose silhouette
Photo Credit miceking, 123RF. (2018)

The warrior pose “stretches the whole front side of the body while strengthening the thighs, ankles, and back. This is a powerful standing pose that develops stamina, balance, and coordination. It tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of the feet. This pose also stretches the chest and lungs, improving breathing capacity and invigorating the body. It can be therapeutic for sciatica. It also encourages greater flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the feet, increasing circulation as it warms all of the muscles” (Yoga Outlet, 2018).

To do the warrior pose you should start by standing with your feet at hips length apart. Step to the side about 4-5 feet apart. Then take your front facing foot and turn it outwards towards the top of the mat (see figure in this section). Then put your arms wide out like an eagle. Now bend your knee on the leg that has the foot pointing forward. Lean in to it. You should feel your legs stretching.

2) Standing Tree Pose

tree
Photo Credit Anita, YogaAnita. (2015)

This pose is great for strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.

The standing tree pose starts with standing up. Slowly raise your arms upwards and connect your hands. Slowly slide one foot upwards to your thigh. Now relax and breathe.

You might be wobbly at first, but don’t give up. Every time you do this pose you are strengthening your muscles and bettering your balance.

3) Half Moon Pose

half moon pose
Photo Credit Bikram Yoga. (2018)

The half moon pose is one of my personal favorites. It helps stretch out your sides and helps you align your core. Plus it helps tone your stomach (who doesn’t love that?!).

You are going to start by standing up with your feet together, shoulders relaxed and your arms to your sides. Then slowly raise your arms and clasp your hands together. Then slowly bend to one side. Then bend to the other side.

4) Sunrise Pose-My Personal Favorite

The sunrise pose is my personal favorite. It stretches my back out, opens my chest muscles, and helps tone my core muscles.

It has several different positions. You can find a great video here. It does a pose by pose explanation. I can’t stress enough how much I love the Sunrise Pose.

5) Downward Facing Dog Pose

downward facing dog
Photo Credit Unknown, yoga.sites4you.net. (Unknown)

The downward facing dog is great for those of you that have sciatic nerve issues. It is also fantastic for restless leg syndrome. It feels so good to just stretch out my back and legs.

This pose you will start on your knees. Make sure you use your yoga mat so you don’t hurt your joints in your knees. You are going to place your hands palms down out in front of you. Then slowly lift yourself off the mat with your feet. Stretch your back out and your leg muscles. Put your head down and make it parallel with your arms. Stretch out your neck and back as you look down towards the floor.

6) Cobra Pose

cobra pose
Photo Credit Unknown, yoga.com. (2018)

This pose is great for stretching out your upper body muscles. As you can see in the picture to the right of this section it shows the muscles that it works on. It helps strengthen those muscles and helps open up your chest muscles.

To do this pose you will need to start on your knees. Make sure you use your yoga mat so you don’t hurt your knees or your legs. Then put your palms face down to the ground. Slowly slide your body in to the cobra pose. Your chin should be up and you should feel all your muscles in your shoulders, chest, neck and back stretching. It also helps stretch your stomach muscles. Focus on balancing.

7) Bridge Pose

bridge pose
Photo Credit Vida Blelkus, HuffPost. (2014)

This helps open up the neck, chest, and back. It also helps with stress and fatigue.

Lay on your back. I would make sure to use your yoga mat. Bring your feet flat to the floor with your knees bent upwards. Lay your arms by your sides and lift your hips up towards the sky. If you can inter-twine your hands together underneath you.

8) Supine Spinal Twist Pose

supine spinal twist
Photo Credit Dr. Jean Farber, painawaydevices.com. (2017)

The supine spinal twist is great for stretching out your back muscles and stretching your spine. “It stretches the back muscles and glutes. It massages the back and hips. It helps to hydrate the spinal disks. It lengthens, relaxes, and realigns the spine. It massages the abdominal organs and strengthens the abdominal muscles. As a result, this pose tones the waistline and also helps to remove toxins. This twist also encourages the flow of fresh blood to your digestive organs, increasing the health and function of your entire digestive system” (Unknown. (2018).

To do this pose you will need to start by laying on your back. Again, I highly recommend investing in a yoga mat. Then slowly raise one knee. Grab it with your opposite hand and pull it towards that opposite hand. Next stretch out your free arm. Turn your head towards that free arm and hold it there while you breathe in and out slowly.

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9) Extended Triangle Pose

extended triangle pose
Photo Credit Spotebi, spotebi.com. (Unknown).

This pose always gets my blood flowing (probably because I’m upside down). This pose is going to help stretch a lot of your muscles. It helps with alignment, stretches your waist, and opens up your chest. It also helps with strengthening your core.

To do this pose you will need to start by standing with your legs even with your hips. Step forward with one foot and point it facing forward in front of you. Then turn towards the leg you moved and bend downwards (like in the picture to the right of this section). Touch your foot facing forward. Then extend your other arm upwards to the sky. Look upwards while you are doing this pose and breathe. It will be hard at first, but your body will eventually get used to it.

 

10)Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose

head to knee pose
Photo Credit Spotebi, spotebi.com. (2018)

The head to knee pose is great for stretching out your back and your legs and feet. It also helps with digestion.

You will need to start with sitting with your legs together in front of you. Again, I would use a yoga mat. Then slowly bend one leg towards you. Bend forward towards the leg still extended outwards. Clasp our hands around your foot and slowly breathe. Let your body fall in to that position naturally.

 

Below under “Resources” there are some really great websites regarding yoga poses and more in depth information about each pose.

 

Resources:

Yoga Outlet. (2018). How to do Warrior 1 Post in Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-warrior-i-pose-in-yoga/

Vyda Blelkus. (2014). 5 Great Yoga Poses for New Moms. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vyda-bielkus/yoga-poses_b_5287615.html

Unknown. (2018). How to Do Reclined Spinal Twist in Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-reclined-spinal-twist-in-yoga/

 

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Losing Weight After Baby is Born

Photo Credit urexweiler, urexweiler.net. (2016)

The first thing on most mom’s minds after having a baby is “I can’t wait to get this baby weight off.” At least that’s what I’ve been focusing on my entire pregnancy. Before I got pregnant the fitness bug bit me. I lost about 15 lbs (I think more)…maybe more. I was feeling great. My body felt better. I was clean eating and staying away from high calorie foods (baked goods, huge meals, etc). Then I got pregnant. This was a blessing. We wanted a second child. I honestly didn’t think it would happen so soon after losing weight.

So now here I am trying not to get upset about gaining that weight back. I’m hoping I’ll lose all of it after giving birth (I can dream right?).

How Do I Safely Exercise After Giving Birth?: Low Impact Exercises

Well, first you need to make sure your doctor says it’s fine and you are released to do so. Most doctors give the okay around 6 weeks postpartum. If you had a c-section or things were complicated during delivery it’s more like 8-10 weeks postpartum (Baby Center Medical Advisory Board., 2016). Again, consult your doctor first. Second, you should start slow. Start with low impact exercises. These are going to be exercises that are “joint friendly”. These include walking, yoga, Pilates, swimming, etc. If you start hurting or bleeding excessively be sure not to over do it. Take regular breaks and hydrate A LOT.

Walking

walking
Photo Credit Smiriti Agarwal. (2017)

So, as mentioned above walking is a great, low impact form of exercise for being postpartum. Start slow. When your body gets more comfortable with this then you can walk faster. Use your arms. Move your arms back and forth to help you walk quicker. Try things like inclines. Try different terrains. Mixing up your workout will challenge your body to keep up each time you exercise.

If you are lucky enough to have a baby while it’s warm out then take advantage of that. Put baby in the stroller and take a walk.

Yoga: Of Course!

yoga
Photo Credit Gaia, gaia.com. (2018)

Yoga is good for anyone who is pregnant or not pregnant, male or female. Yoga helps tone and stretch muscles. This is prefect for postpartum mommies. This will help strengthen your joints back to where they need to be. Yoga also helps tone. Which means your muscles will slowly start healing. When you’re pregnant your muscles pull away from your stomach, and your joints stretch and become weak. Yoga helps target those two issues and helps heal your body. There is a great article here in which you can find several different great yoga positions to try postpartum. I highly recommend yoga.

Swimming

swimming
Photo Credit StacieStauffSmith Photos/Shutterstock. (2017)

Swimming is very low impact. You have the water to help balance gravity. This is great on your flimsy joints and stretched out muscles that you got from pregnancy. It also works your upper and lower body, as well as your core. This goes right along with toning and helping to retract those stretched out muscles and joints.

Make sure you talk to your doctor first about when swimming is an option after childbirth. This is especially true for c-section mommies.

 

Don’t Over Do It!

I know this is easier said than done. You just had a baby. You are in a never ending balancing act. You have to take care of baby on little to no sleep. You want to exercise. You might have to go back to work in just 6 weeks. Plus, you have a husband who needs you too. You’re also trying to run the household and making sure that no one loses their heads while getting dinner ready and children to bed.

Just make sure you hydrate. Take several breaks. Listen to your body. No one knows your body better than you do.

What are your favorite postpartum workouts? Did you give birth naturally or via c-section and how did that impact your exercise?

 

Resources:

Wendy’s Blog. (Unknown). Mutu System. Retrieved from https://mutusystem.com/mutu-system-blog/post-partum-fitness-low-impact

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2016). Postpartum Exercise: Is Your Body Ready? Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_postpartum-exercise-is-your-body-ready_196.bc

Deblina Biswas. (Unknown). 10 Effective Yoga Poses to Lose Weight After Having a Baby. Retrieved from https://www.thefitindian.com/yoga-poses-to-lose-weight-after-pregnancy/

Natural Birth? C-Section?: Which is Right for Me?

Photo Credit http://www.stylehuntworld.blogspot.com

First, I want to say you are no less of a mother if you have a cesarean section (c-section) birth or a natural birth, or if you have a natural birth and decide to use drugs to help in the process. I see mom shaming going on about this topic all the time. It’s so controversial. I just want to set the topic straight on this. I am a c-section mommy and proud of it. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of birth, so please don’t judge another mother just because she had a different birthing experience than you.

Let’s dive right in!

Natural Birth

natural birth
Photo Credit Baby Center Medical Advisory Board

A natural birth is exactly that. However, there’s so many ways to have a natural birth. Do you want to use drugs to help along the process? Do you want to be pumped with any inducing drugs (Pitocin) or use an epidural? Do you think you’ll need an episiotomy? What is your birthing plan? Do you have one in mind?

Okay, great! You have thought about a birthing plan. Now throw it out the window. You can plan whatever birthing plan you want, but baby is still the one making the shots. Baby makes the shots for the rest of your life, so you better get used to it now.

Natural Birthing Advantages

The number one thing as a mom of having an all natural birth (no drugs necessary) is that you did it. You birthed that beautiful bundle of joy all by yourself, no drugs necessary. I’ve been there. I went in with the mindset of “I’m doing this all by myself and I am a woman. Hear me roar.” Now, this is not a bad mind set to have going in to your delivery.

Advantages of if you are able to do it all natural is that you are completely involved, in control. You get to mentally be involved as well as physically. You get to call the shots of how you position yourself. You get to mentally push yourself to accomplish the greatest thing you’ve ever done with your life. You have no loss of sensation of your nervous system. All those things they taught you in your birthing classes get to come in handy while you push powerfully to birth your baby.

forceps vacuum
Photo Credit Parent Resource Network

You are also less likely to have the need for forceps or a vacuum to help with your deliver (Baby Center Medical Advisory Board, 2017). These are to name a few of the wonderful advantages of having a drug free, natural delivery.

There’s also the fact that you don’t run the risks of having surgery because there is no surgery, unlike that of a c-section. You don’t run the risks of drug reactions either. Recovery time for a natural birth is significantly lower than that of a c-section as well (Nierenberg, C., 2015).

Natural Birthing Disadvantages

The number one thing that comes immediately to my mind is drugs they give you to help you birth. Are they safe? Will they effect my baby? Well yes, but not in the way you might think. The disadvantages to having things like the epidural is you are so numb you can not feel what is going on down there. Trust me, I know. Been there, done that. I was numb all the way up to my chest and could not feel my arms. It was the weirdest feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. If you are a control freak and want to have every involvement with your deliver then using drugs to help is probably not a good idea for you. I am THAT control freak, so don’t feel bad.

episiotomy
Photo Credit The LBC Health Group

With a natural birth you run the risk of tearing your lady parts. I know a lot of patients and women who ripped open before the doctor had a chance to do the epesiotomy. That results in a lot of scarring. It does not look the same after that. Even if your doctor is able to do the epesiotomy in time the stitches and the tearing from that is still going to leave a scar forever. Some women don’t care, and some do. I cared. Really though how big is that concern for you when the alternative could be a huge c-section scar?

pitocin

Some women get induced using Pitocin, and labor for hours and hours. This can exhaust mom and baby. Eventually if things aren’t moving along they will decide to do a C-section. Again, you run even more risks with a c-section surgery.

There is also the involvement with your partner to consider. I labored for 15 hours and then had to have an emergency c-section. When I was laboring I was ready to rip a rail off the hospital bed. I was in so much pain. I did not want anyone, not even my husband, to talk to me, look at me, ask me any questions, or especially touch me. That can hinder the birthing experience for your partner, to say the least. When they did the epidural to start the process of a c-section the room felt more calm. It felt like I could relax, and enjoy what was going on. I felt nicer as a person too. The pain was no longer there. I was able to let go and let my husband hold my hand, touch me, and tell me everything was going to be okay.

Natural Birth and Drugs

I’ve touched a little bit on it already, but I want to go more in depth for anyone who has any more questions about the drugs used during delivery. Let’s start with Pitocin. This drug is usually used to jump start labor. If you get scheduled to be induced they’re more than likely giving you Pitocin. “Pitocin, a brand name drug, is the synthetic version of Oxytocin, a natural hormone that helps your uterus contract during labor” (Rolano, R., 2017). With that being said it is a synthetic way they can jump start those contractions to get labor moving right along. Depending on how you feel about synthetic drugs and inducing labor, Pitocin is the way to go. Don’t forget about the risks with any medication or drug used though. Talk to your doctor first.

epidural

Another thing they use during delivery is an epidural. “Epidural medications fall into a class of drugs called local anesthetics, such as bupivacaine, chloroprocaine, or lidocaine. They are often delivered in combination with opioids or narcotics such as fentanyl and sufentanil in order to decrease the required dose of local anesthetic” (American Pregnancy Association, 2017). An epidural is given through IV to your spine. “For a spinal block, narcotics or anesthetic is injected once with a needle. For a spinal epidural or combined spinal epidural, a catheter is placed in the epidural space to allow continuous anesthesia (American Pregnancy Association, 2015). The photo located towards the left shows the different areas the needles are inserted. Again, talk to your doctor to make sure this is the right choice for your birthing plan if you are considering drugs during delivery.

Cesarean Section (C-Section) Birth

csection
Photo Credit Reiter and Walsh

The cesarean section birth is something I am all too familiar with. The c-section has a long list of advantages and disadvantages. It’s a surgery, a major surgery. A c-section is not to be taken lightly. If considering this as your birthing plan please talk to your doctor first. There is a lot of prepping for this surgery, as well as prepping mentally for this.

Advantages of a C-Section Birth

There are only a few advantages to mention about a c-section birth. You get to plan exactly when your baby is coming. There are no in the middle of the night surprises (as long as baby decides to stay in long enough for the scheduled surgery to happen). Doctors also perform c-sections at 38-39 weeks, so you do not have to be pregnant a full 40 weeks term.

Another thing I want to talk about is partner involvement. Like I said previously, as soon as they gave me that epidural the room seemed more calm. I was able to think about other things. I was able to allow my husband to be involved. After they cut me open and took out our gorgeous, perfect little daughter he was the sole parent for her the first few hours of her life while I was in recovery. If I had a natural birth, I would have been there the first few hours of her life. I think the c-section gives a chance for your partner to really bond with the baby. After that you are the one feeding and rocking the baby most of the time. It’s hard sometimes for the partners, and they end up not feeling as involved with the baby.

Disadvantages of a C-Section

I know I touched on it earlier, but drugs for a c-section birth are a must. They have to do an epidural anesthesia. The risks include blood pressure dropping, headaches caused by spinal fluid leaking, and shivering sensations. There’s also nausea, backaches, ringing in ears, and difficulty urinating. You are not allowed to get out of bed, so going to the bathroom is not an option. They catheterize your bladder so you are able to empty your bladder and not get out of bed.

I remember having the shivering sensations pretty badly. I felt cold and was shaking, but I was not cold. I also remember just wanting to get out of bed to go to the bathroom by myself instead of having what seemed like the whole world watch me go to the bathroom in a bag connected to my urethra.

There have been issues reported of permanent nerve damage where the epidural was placed in the spine.

There have also been studies that say babies have a harder time latching on when birthed via c-section. “Other studies suggest that a baby might experience respiratory depression, fetal malpositioning, and an increase in fetal heart rate variability (American Pregnancy Association, 2017). I highly encourage you to go to the American Pregnancy Association website and read the article on epidurals. It is very informative, especially if you are considering a c-section birth.

The recovery time for a c-section is a lot longer than a natural birth. Again, this is a real surgery. Movement will be limited, so that makes taking care of baby a little harder as well. I was barely able to walk for months. After about 10 weeks I still had trouble walking long periods at a time. I would have to take a lot of breaks in between walking.

The more obvious disadvantage of a c-section delivery is the scar. The scar is huge. I know it’s low in your groin area, but it also bothers me a lot. I notice when the weather is changing my scar tends to hurt. It’s been 5 years since I had my c-section and the scar still acts up.

In Conclusion

Please be aware that any birthing plan you choose is yours. It also needs to be discussed with your doctor. Not only will it be recognized by your doctor and the nursing staff, but also so they can make sure your birthing plan goes as according to plan as it possibly can. If there are options that are better for you and baby your doctor will be able to tell you. Make sure you write down all your questions to take to your next doctor’s appointment.

Birthing your baby via natural birth or cesarean birth is a personal experience. It does not mean you made a wrong choice if your birthing plan does not go how you hoped it would have. It does not make you less of a mother if you wanted a natural birth, but the doctor had to intervene to help protect your baby via drugs, medications, or a surgery.

*I would love to hear about your birthing story below in the comments section. If you have more to add to help other moms with choosing their birthing plan please comment below. Thank you so much.*

Resources:

Mena, Katie. (2016). Pitocin Induction: The Risks and Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pitocin-induction

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2017). Natural Childbirth. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/natural-childbirth

Nierenberg, Cari, Live Science Contributor. (2015). Vaginal Birth Vs. C-Section: Pros and Cons. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/45681-vaginal-birth-vs-c-section.html

Rolano, Rose, The Bump Contributor. (2017). The Lowdown on Using Pitocin During Labor. Retrieved from https://www.thebump.com/a/pitocin

American Pregnancy Association. (2017). Epidural Anesthesia. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/epidural/

American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Spinal Block. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/spinal-block/

Calorie Counting: Does It Work? And How Do I Do It?

Okay first of all YES! Yes it works! I’ve seen results on many patients, including myself and my family.

Are you good with numbers (addition and subtraction)? Are you good with using apps to help you?

If you said “Yes” to any of these then keep reading. I have fantastic news for you.

Okay, so if you couldn’t tell already I am very passionate about this. I am passionate because I believe everyone has the opportunity to be healthy, and to succeed at being healthy. I want to help you help yourself.

my fitness pal

If you haven’t heard me rant about these two apps yet you are missing out! My Fitness Pal, and Map My Walk. You can get them for Android and for Apple operating systems.

I am not going to go in to detail about how to use them. You can find out more here.

So…you decided it’s time for a change. That’s fantastic and I am so proud of you. Please reach out to me with any questions or if you are looking for that extra support. I would love to help!

map my walk appFirst thing is first: Weigh yourself naked every day on a scale. Do it first thing in the morning before you have that first cup of coffee. I find that even if I take a shower first I weigh more than before (all that water weighing down my hair, it’s a real thing. I promise).

1) Enter your weight in the My Fitness Pal app. 

After you have done that then go ahead and start picking out your breakfast. Guess what! Everything has calories in it. Make sure you are watching how many calories you have for the day in your app. This will better allow you to spread out your calorie intake for the day.

2) Enter your food in to your My Fitness Pal app.

Feeling motivated yet? I am. Now it’s time to start exercising. You can do anything from jogging, to yoga, to tennis, to soccer, etc. ANYTHING! The My Fitness Pal app knows how many calories you are burning by what activity you are doing. Just log it in.

texting phone3) Log your exercise in to the My Fitness Pal app.

If you are a jogger/walker/runner/etc then I strongly recommend using the Map My Walk app. It knows your location and can tell you exactly your path, calories burned, and speed. I especially like it because I jog. I know roughly how long it takes me to do a mile. I like to do three, so I can judge how long I’ll be out of the house.

jogging4) Record your walk/run in your Map My Walk app.

The more you exercise the more calories you have at the end of the day for dessert. If you go over don’t worry. There’s always that cheat day once a week.

 

Any questions yet? Please reach out to me! I would love to hear from you. This is the easiest method I have found (I love numbers and challenges). I am free to eat whatever I want, and I get to call the shots. If I don’t exercise to earn my calories for that bowl of ice cream at the end of the day then that’s on me. Not the diet.

Good luck!

Birth Control Part 2: Can I Get Pregnant While Being on it? And How Soon After Going Off of it Can I Get Pregnant?

I want to let all of my readers know first that there is a list of resources below in case you would like more information about something that was mentioned today. I hope this article helps you with any questions you might have about which type of birth control is right for you.

What is Birth Control?

First, let’s talk about what contraception really is. “the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control” (dictionary.com, 2018).

Birth control can be sub-categorized in to two separate categories: hormonal birth control and non hormonal birth control. We can get even more specific and categorize the hormonal birth control in to which hormones they use to prevent pregnancy. We can get even more in depth after that, but we aren’t today. We are going to talk about the overall concept of how each one works, the effectiveness, and how to conceive or avoid conception with each one.

Let’s Jump Right In:

Condoms:

condoms
Photo Credit iStock, daily.jstor.org. (2018)

How It Works: Condoms go on the male “part” and prevent any sperm from passing through to the vagina. The end of the condom has a little sack/pouch (called a nipple) to catch all the semen that is released during sex. This prevents pregnancy.

Effectiveness: When using a condom with foam (spermicide) properly it is 97% effective at preventing pregnancy (MedicineNet, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: Whenever you are ready to conceive all you have to do is not use them anymore. It’s as simple as that. The only wait time you will face is when mommy-to-be is waiting to ovulate.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware that condoms like to break…a lot. That is why they recommend using lubrication while using them.

Diaphragm:

diaphragm
Photo Credit Maria Shevtsova, motherhow.com. (2017)

How It Works: The diaphragm works by blocking sperm from getting in to the uterus. It is placed in the vagina and meant to cover the opening to your cervix. It is meant to be used with a spermicide as well. The spermicide kills the sperm before it can enter the uterus. “You can put it in up to 6 hours before you have sex, and you need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after” (WebMD, 2018).

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is is 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, a lot of people misuse it and don’t place the diaphragm correctly in to place, so the rate is more like 88% effective (Planned Parenthood, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, you can conceive while using the diaphragm as a form of contraception. There’s always that chance. As soon as you are ready to conceive all you have to do is not use it anymore. Again, the only wait time is waiting for mommy-to-be to ovulate.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware they are only 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. There’s always that chance of getting pregnant.

 Copper IUD (ParaGard):

paragard
Photo Credit viewpoints, viewpoints.com. (2018)

How It Works: This copper IUD works by releasing copper in the uterus and killing sperm before it enters the cervix. It is an IUD so it is placed in the uterus. It is good for up to 10 years. It is completely reversible and can be removed by a healthcare provider. It does need to be inserted by a healthcare provider too though.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy (Paragard.com, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: With any IUD you have a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive you can have it removed by a healthcare professional and try to conceive immediately. That’s the beauty of a hormone free birth control. It is hormone free, so you should have your normal cycle while using it as well.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware that sometimes it can dislodge, or embed itself in the uterus wall. Both these scenarios make it less likely for the IUD to work properly.

Rhythm Method:

rhytm method
Photo Credit Cedarmed International Medical Services, cedarmed.com. (2018)

How It Works: The rhythm method is, basically, you track your cycle using a calendar. You track your ovulation window and your periods. You should mark when you start your cycle, and when you end. You should also anticipate 3 days before ovulation day and 3 days after as a window of getting pregnant. If you are going to use this method I highly recommend getting an app on your phone and using a condom for a few months until your app can properly start calculating your ovulation schedule.

Effectiveness: When this process is used correctly it is about 75% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using This: The answer is YES! This method is not always reliable as it is easy to miscalculate your cycle. It also has a 75% rate of prevention. That’s 25% chance of getting pregnant.

If you are trying to conceive this is perfect because you have to track your ovulation schedule.

If you are not trying to conceive this is an issue for birth control. It is more likely you will conceive accidentally with using this method.

 

Surgical Sterilization:

I’m sure we all know what this means. Surgical sterilization is where you go to your doctor and ask to be sterilized so you can not have any more children. This method can not be reversed in most cases. Please consider all options before choosing this method.

-Tubal Ligation-

How It Works: This is the female form of surgical sterilization. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. A tubal ligation “is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017).

Effectiveness: “Tubal ligation is a safe and effective form of permanent birth control. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant in the first year after the procedure. The younger you are at the time it’s done, the more likely it is to fail” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant Accidentally: Yes you can. The younger you are the more likely for it to fail. You also have a higher risk of it being an ectopic pregnancy. It is pretty effective though for the most part with the right patients.

-Vasectomy-

How It Works: A vasectomy is the male form of surgical sterilization. In a vasectomy “the surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away” (WebMD, 2018).

Effectiveness: This is almost 100% effective. In rare cases it can reverse itself. The man does need to get regular check ups to check sperm counts.

Can I Get Pregnant Accidentally: Yes, you can get pregnant accidentally. Only if the vasectomy reverses itself though.

Pills, or Oral Contraceptives:

bc pillsHow It Works: Oral contraceptives come in a wheel or in a package like the picture to the left of this section. How do oral contraceptives work? I am so glad you asked. When used correctly they release a hormone that prevents your body from ovulating. Therefore, your body is temporarily infertile.

Some work by releasing estrogen. Others work by releasing progesterone. They also offer oral contraceptives that release both hormones. You do need to take it every day at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This can be a pain in itself and a huge inconvenience. This can also be impractical for very busy women.

Effectiveness: When the pill is taken correctly it is 99.9% effective (WebMD, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: Generally speaking, if you are trying to conceive you can have a period in about 2-4 weeks. It is recommended you wait and have at least 2-3 “normal” periods after stopping the pill to try and conceive. This lowers the risk of there being any birth defects in the womb later on.

If you are not trying to conceive you should continue taking the pill. If you go off of the pill or miss a dose you should use back up birth control methods (condoms, diaphragm).

Depo-Provera Shot:

depo shot
Photo Credit Melissa Gardner, pajamamommy.com. (2017)

How It Works: The Depo shot, or Depo-Provera shot, is an injection you get every 3 months. The shot works by releasing progesterone preventing ovulation. It also thickens the mucous in your cervix so the sperm can’t get through.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using This: Yes, you always have a chance of getting pregnant. Realistically, especially if you’ve used it for several months already, you are not going to get pregnant. If you miss a shot you should use back up birth control methods. I also don’t recommend using this passed your 2-3 year mark.

If you are trying to conceive this makes it a little harder for your body to go back to the “norm” or having a menstrual cycle. It can take months for your body to start having periods again. When that does happen you should wait to have 2-3 “normal” periods before trying to conceive.

If you are not trying to conceive this is actually a better option than some of the other choices out there. This is because it is over 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. It also has the ability to take away periods all together while on it. No period means no ovulation.

Hormone IUD:

mirena
Photo Credit Mirena, Mirena-us.com. (2017)

How It Works: I think the most common hormone IUD we think of that’s on the market today is the Mirena IUD. It is a small T-shaped piece that gets implanted in to your uterus. It works by releasing levonorgestrel in to the uterus. It also thickens your mucous in your cervix and thins your uterus lining to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is good for up to 5 years. You have to have a doctor insert it and take it out.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is also over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, but you can get it put in at the clinic office and forget about it for the next 5 years. You also have the option of taking it out whenever you decide you want to get pregnant. Your cycle should return right away without any issues with conceiving. “Within a year of having Mirena removed, about 8 out of 10 women succeed at becoming pregnant” (Mirena, 2018).

If you are not trying to conceive this is a highly effective method. There’s always a chance of pregnancy with any type of birth control on the market today. IUDs can get dislodged or embed themselves in the uterus wall. This makes it less effective.

This should only be used on full grown women. It is not recommended for teen girls. I also do not recommend it for women who have not had children yet. Your uterus would not be used to it and stretched out and the IUD could expel itself.

Hormone Implant:

nexplanon
Photo Credit MacArthur, macarthurmc.com. (2018)

How It Works: The hormonal implant on the market today is the Nexplanon. This is a little stick looking piece that is filled with hormones. It’s funny because the website doesn’t actually say which hormone (which I find kinda shady). It gets surgically implanted in to the skin of your upper arm. Your arm will be locally numbed, then the stick will be implanted under the skin in your arm. “Immediately after the insertion, you and your health care provider will feel for NEXPLANON to ensure that it has been placed correctly. If you can’t feel it, contact your health care provider immediately and use a non-hormonal birth control method (such as condoms) until your health care provider confirms that the implant is in place. The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to a failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Following the insertion, you’ll have to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours and a small bandage for 3 to 5 days.” (Nexplanon, 2018).

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: The advantages include it is effective for up to 3 years. You can take it out at any time if you plan to become pregnant. You get it inserted at the clinic by your doctor and you don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 years.

If you are not trying to get pregnant please be aware that although there is a low likelihood of pregnancy, there still exists one. These can get punctured easily or broken inside the skin easily. They also can embed themselves which make them less likely to be effective.

Vaginal Ring:

nuvaring
Photo Credit Lydie Stock/Fotolia. (2017)

How It Works: The vaginal ring is not for those who are, what I like to call, “vagina shy”. This is something you replace monthly and you have to personally insert it in to your vagina yourself. On the market there is the NuvaRing. This is a lot different than the other forms of hormonal birth control methods. This is a flexible ring that gets inserted in to your vagina.

Effectiveness: This works using estrogen and progesterone both. It is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is to be removed after 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your menstrual cycle. Then the next month you insert a new one. You will need a prescription for this.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, you can. If it is not inserted properly you can become pregnant. If you do not use it properly you may become pregnant. It can also dislodge.

However, if you are trying to conceive you can remove it at any time and become pregnant.

Hormone Patch:

ortho evra patch
Photo Credit Center for Young Women’s Health, youngwomenshealth.org. (2017)

How It Works: The hormonal patch, also known as the transdermal patch or Ortho Evra Patch, is a patch you wear for 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your period. The next week you will need to re-apply another patch. It uses both estrogen and progesterone. It releases hormones in to the skin. These hormones work like the depo shot. Your body stop ovulation temporarily.

Effectiveness: The patch is only about 91% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, it is only about 91% effective, so your odds at getting pregnant just went up. This is an issue if you are not trying to conceive. If you forget to use the patch make sure you use a back up method of birth control.

If you would like to become pregnant you can remove the patch at any time and should be able to conceive soon after.

Do you have a preference? Have you had a good/bad experience with one of the forms of birth control addressed in this article? I would love to hear from you and hear your experience. This is a great way to help other women who have questions as well.

Resources:

Dictionary.com. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Medicine Net. (2018). Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/condoms/article.htm#introduction

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control: Is the Diaphragm Right for You? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/diaphragm-birth-control#1

Planned Parenthood. (2018). How Effective are Diaphragms? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm/how-effective-are-diaphragms

Paragard. (2018). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.paragard.com/Faqs.aspx

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Tubal Ligation. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360

WebMD. (2018). Vasectomy: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-overview#1

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control Pills. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills#1

Mirena. (2018). Mirena. Retrieved from https://www.mirena-us.com/index.php/?pse=google&matchtype=e&Keyword=mirena&campaignid=601337644&adgroupid=29788072950&device=c&adposition=1t1&loc=9016368&gclid=Cj0KCQiAiKrUBRD6ARIsADS2OLmQ54_aMbftwWxjnd0qdC9Edpas08ock9ejoEkKudJ3snnmQs8VufwaAtsuEALw_wcB&dclid=CPPS7ey0stkCFUqDaQodKCAJGQ

Nexplanon. (2018). Nexplanon. Retrieved from https://www.nexplanon.com/

NuvaRing. (2018). NuvaRing. Retrieved from https://www.nuvaring.com/

 

Rehashing-Birth Control Part 1: Which One Should I Use?

Photo Credit Melissa Conrad Stoppler, Medicinenet.com. (2018)

I got such great feedback on this one and so many views I felt like I needed to share it again for anyone who forgot about it, or needs to look at it again.

Birth Control is such a personal choice, but one that many people flock to social media, forums, and other sources (other than their OB/GYN) to discuss. I want to talk about the different forms of birth control out there and how to choose the right one for you and your personal lifestyle.

I want to let all my readers know who are reading this that we are about to get very up close and personal about birth control and intercourse.

What is Birth Control?

First, let’s talk about what contraception really is. “the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control” (dictionary.com, 2018).

Birth control can be sub-categorized in to two separate categories: hormonal birth control and non hormonal birth control. We can get even more specific and categorize the hormonal birth control in to which hormones they use to prevent pregnancy. We can get even more in depth after that, but we aren’t today. We are going to talk about the most popular forms on the market and prescription today.

Non-Hormonal Birth Control:

Condoms:

condoms
Photo Credit iStock, daily.jstor.org. (2018)Condoms:

I think in the non-hormonal category the most common practiced form of non-hormonal birth control is condoms. How do condoms work? Condoms go on the male “part” and prevent any sperm from passing through to the vagina. The end of the condom has a little sack/pouch (called a nipple) to catch all the semen that is released during sex. This prevents pregnancy and STDs). When using a condom with foam (spermicide) properly it is 97% effective (MedicineNet, 2018).

If you are allergic to latex you might want to reconsider this option. Side effects of condoms are very minimal. The biggest being pregnancy or STDs. The other one being an allergic reaction to latex (American Pregnancy Association, 2018). Condoms like to break. That’s why they recommend using a lubrication with it. You do not need a prescription and they are extremely cheap to buy at your local super store.

The downsides include you have to stop “in the moment” and put one on. They can break easily, and they’re not 100% effective. The upsides include it being hormone free. You don’t have to remember to “take it every day” like you would a pill.

Diaphragm:

diaphragm
Photo Credit Maria Shevtsova, motherhow.com. (2017)

The diaphragm works by blocking sperm from getting in to the uterus. It is placed in the vagina and meant to cover the opening to your cervix. It is meant to be used with a spermicide as well. The spermicide kills the sperm before it can enter the uterus. “You can put it in up to 6 hours before you have sex, and you need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after” (WebMD, 2018).

When used correctly it is is 94% effective. However, a lot of people misuse and don’t place the diaphragm correctly in to place, so the rate is more like 88% effective (Planned Parenthood, 2018). You do need a prescription for a diaphragm though. Talk to your doctor and they should also be able to teach you how to properly “install” it before intercourse.

Risks and side effects include risk of STDs. They do not protect against STDs just to be clear. The more serious side effect is toxic shock syndrome. This is caused from a bacteria from the vagina being plugged up for several hours and turns in to an infection. It is also believed that women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection from using them from the bacteria being in the area.

Some downsides to this method include having to put it in 6 hours prior to having intercourse. You don’t have the option of “spur of the moment”. The upsides though are you can put it in and forget about it for 6 hours. You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day. It is hormone free. You can use it several times, but spermicide needs to be reapplied before each use and in between intercourse.

Copper IUD (ParaGard):

paragard
Photo Credit viewpoints, viewpoints.com. (2018)

This copper IUD works by releasing copper in the uterus and killing sperm before it enters the cervix. It is an IUD so it is placed in the uterus. It is good for up to 10 years. It is completely reversible and can be removed by a healthcare provider. It does need to be inserted by a healthcare provider too though.

When used correctly it is over 99% effective (Paragard.com, 2018). Risks and side effects include STDs, heavier and longer periods with bleeding in between cycles, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), perforation of the uterine wall, and hard surgical removal. This is not a complete list of all side effects for the Paragard, but these are the more common ones. Make sure you talk to your doctor before making a decision.

This is a good option for people who can’t take certain hormones due to diseases or disorders or medication interactions.

Rhythm Method:

rhytm method
Photo Credit Cedarmed International Medical Services, cedarmed.com. (2018)

The rhythm method is, basically, you track your cycle using a calendar. You track your ovulation window and your periods. You should mark when you start your cycle, and when you end. You should also anticipate 3 days before ovulation day and 3 days after as a window of getting pregnant. If you are going to use this method I highly recommend getting an app on your phone and using a condom for a few months until your app can properly start calculating your ovulation schedule.

This method has so many risks. This does not protect against STDs, high risk for pregnancy (100%), and miscalculations when tracking your cycle.

Surgical Sterilization:

I’m sure we all know what this means. Surgical sterilization is where you go to your doctor and ask to be sterilized so you can not have any more children. This method can not be reversed in most cases. Please consider all options before choosing this method.

-Tubal Ligation-

This is the female form of surgical sterilization. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. A tubal ligation “is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

-Vasectomy-

A vasectomy is the male form of surgical sterilization. In a vasectomy “the surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away” (WebMD, 2018).

Hormonal Birth Control:

There are so many choices to choose from with hormonal birth control methods. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the best option for you. These contraceptives work by using hormones released in to your body. Some patients are not allowed to have certain types of hormones due to diseases and disorders. There’s also your medical history and medication list to take in to consideration.

In most cases you can use hormonal birth control methods while breastfeeding. They are not meant to be used while pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

Pills, or Oral Contraceptives:

bc pillsOral contraceptives come in a wheel or in a package like the picture to the left of this section. How do oral contraceptives work? I am so glad you asked. When used correctly they release a hormone that prevents your body from ovulating. Therefore, your body is temporarily infertile.

Some work by releasing estrogen. Others work by releasing progesterone. They also offer oral contraceptives that release both hormones. You do need to take it every day at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This can be a pain in itself and a huge inconvenience. This can also be impractical for very busy women.

Depo-Provera Shot:

depo shot
Photo Credit Melissa Gardner, pajamamommy.com. (2017)

The Depo shot, or Depo-Provera shot, is an injection you get every 3 months. This method has so many advantages and disadvantages. It is a private form of birth control. No one, except you and your doctor, knows you’re using it. There is no stall of “being in the moment” with intercourse. You get injected every 3 months, then you can forget about it until you need to go to your next appointment.

The disadvantages include weight gain. You should maintain a proper diet and exercise regularly. The pain of getting a shot every 3 months is also something you should consider. If shots make you nervous you should reconsider this method. The other downside includes no prevention from STDs.

The shot works by releasing progesterone preventing ovulation. It also thickens the mucous in your cervix so the sperm can’t get through. When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Side effects include sporadic spotting for a few weeks, absence of periods, weight gain, dizziness, changes in appetite, and hair loss. These are just to name a few.

Hormone IUD:

mirena
Photo Credit Mirena, Mirena-us.com. (2017)

I think the most common hormone IUD we think of that’s on the market today is the Mirena IUD. It is a small T-shaped piece that gets implanted in to your uterus. It works by releasing levonorgestrel in to the uterus. It also thickens your mucous in your cervix and thins your uterus lining to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is good for up to 5 years. You have to have a doctor insert it and take it out.

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages with this one as well. The advantages are you can get it put in at the clinic office and forget about it for the next 5 years. You don’t ruin a “in the moment” moment. You also have the option of taking it out whenever you decide you want to get pregnant. When used correctly it is also over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

The disadvantages include no protection against STDs. It can get implanted in to the uterus wall and need surgical removal. You can experience pain from placement, excessive bleeding and spotting in between cycles, ovarian cysts, and pregnancy.

This should only be used on full grown women. It is not recommended for teen girls. I also do not recommend it for women who have not had children yet. Your uterus would not be used to it and stretched out and the IUD could expel itself.

Hormone Implant:

nexplanon
Photo Credit MacArthur, macarthurmc.com. (2018)

The hormonal implant on the market today is the Nexplanon. This is a little stick looking piece that is filled with hormones. It’s funny because the website doesn’t actually say which hormone (which I find kinda shady). It gets surgically implanted in to the skin of your upper arm. Your arm will be locally numbed, then the stick will be implanted under the skin in your arm. “Immediately after the insertion, you and your health care provider will feel for NEXPLANON to ensure that it has been placed correctly. If you can’t feel it, contact your health care provider immediately and use a non-hormonal birth control method (such as condoms) until your health care provider confirms that the implant is in place. The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to a failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Following the insertion, you’ll have to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours and a small bandage for 3 to 5 days.” (Nexplanon, 2018).

When used correctly it is over 99% effective. With this form of birth control there are so many advantages and disadvantages. There will more than likely be a scar where the hormonal stick is implanted. When removed they will need to cut you open to remove it. Also, you may experience longer or shorter periods, spotting in between periods, weight gain, acne, depression, mood swings, pain, pain at insertion site, and problems with removal. The problems with removal include pain, irritation, scarring, swelling, bruising, injury to nerve or blood vessels at site, it may also break. These are just to name a few.

The advantages include it is effective for up to 3 years. You can take it out at any time if you plan to become pregnant. You get it inserted at the clinic by your doctor and you don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 years.

Vaginal Ring:

nuvaring
Photo Credit Lydie Stock/Fotolia. (2017)

The vaginal ring is not for those who are, what I like to call, “vagina shy”. This is something you replace monthly and you have to personally insert it in to your vagina yourself. On the market there is the NuvaRing. This is a lot different than the other forms of hormonal birth control methods. This is a flexible ring that gets inserted in to your vagina.

This works using estrogen and progesterone both. It is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is to be removed after 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your menstrual cycle. Then the next month you insert a new one. You will need a prescription for this.

Risks and side effects include blood clots in your legs, lungs, heart, eyes or brain. You also could develop liver problems, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and gallbladder problems. Again, these are to just name a few of the risks and side effects.

Hormone Patch:

ortho evra patch
Photo Credit Center for Young Women’s Health, youngwomenshealth.org. (2017)

The hormonal patch, also known as the transdermal patch or Ortho Evra Patch, is a patch you wear for 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your period. The next week you will need to re-apply another patch. It uses both estrogen and progesterone. The patch is only about 91% effective at preventing pregnancy. It releases hormones in to the skin. These hormones work like the depo shot. Your body stop ovulation temporarily.

Risks and side effects include skin irritation, STDs, bleeding, vomiting, weight gain, and bloating. These are to name a few. You also have a higher risk of developing yeast infections and can develop depression issues.

Do you have a preference? Have you had a good/bad experience with one of the forms of birth control addressed in this article? I would love to hear from you and hear your experience. This is a great way to help other women who have questions as well.

Resources:

Dictionary.com. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

MedicineNet. (2018). Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/condoms/article.htm#femalestds

American Pregnancy Association. (2018). Male Condom. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/male-condom/

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control: Is the Diaphragm Right for you? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/diaphragm-birth-control#1

Paragard. (2018). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.paragard.com/Faqs.aspx

Planned Parenthood. (2018). How Effective are Diaphragms? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm/how-effective-are-diaphragms

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Tubal Ligation. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360

WebMD. (2018). Vasectomy: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-overview#1

Mirena. (2017). What is Mirena? Retrieved from https://www.mirena-us.com/index.php/?pse=google&matchtype=e&Keyword=mirena&campaignid=601337644&adgroupid=29788072950&device=c&adposition=1t1&loc=9016368&gclid=Cj0KCQiAiKrUBRD6ARIsADS2OLmQ54_aMbftwWxjnd0qdC9Edpas08ock9ejoEkKudJ3snnmQs8VufwaAtsuEALw_wcB&dclid=CPPS7ey0stkCFUqDaQodKCAJGQ

MedlinePlus. (2018). Levonorgestrel Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a610021.html

Nexplanon. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from https://www.nexplanon.com/

NuvaRing. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from https://www.nuvaring.com/

American Pregnancy Association. (2018). Birth Control Patch. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/birth-control-patch/

Rehashing-Birth Control Part 1: Which One Should I Use?

Photo Credit Melissa Conrad Stoppler, Medicinenet.com. (2018)

Birth Control is such a personal choice, but one that many people flock to social media, forums, and other sources (other than their OB/GYN) to discuss. I want to talk about the different forms of birth control out there and how to choose the right one for you and your personal lifestyle.

I want to let all my readers know who are reading this that we are about to get very up close and personal about birth control and intercourse.

What is Birth Control?

First, let’s talk about what contraception really is. “the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control” (dictionary.com, 2018).

Birth control can be sub-categorized in to two separate categories: hormonal birth control and non hormonal birth control. We can get even more specific and categorize the hormonal birth control in to which hormones they use to prevent pregnancy. We can get even more in depth after that, but we aren’t today. We are going to talk about the most popular forms on the market and prescription today.

Non-Hormonal Birth Control:

Condoms:

condoms
Photo Credit iStock, daily.jstor.org. (2018)Condoms:

I think in the non-hormonal category the most common practiced form of non-hormonal birth control is condoms. How do condoms work? Condoms go on the male “part” and prevent any sperm from passing through to the vagina. The end of the condom has a little sack/pouch (called a nipple) to catch all the semen that is released during sex. This prevents pregnancy and STDs). When using a condom with foam (spermicide) properly it is 97% effective (MedicineNet, 2018).

If you are allergic to latex you might want to reconsider this option. Side effects of condoms are very minimal. The biggest being pregnancy or STDs. The other one being an allergic reaction to latex (American Pregnancy Association, 2018). Condoms like to break. That’s why they recommend using a lubrication with it. You do not need a prescription and they are extremely cheap to buy at your local super store.

The downsides include you have to stop “in the moment” and put one on. They can break easily, and they’re not 100% effective. The upsides include it being hormone free. You don’t have to remember to “take it every day” like you would a pill.

Diaphragm:

diaphragm
Photo Credit Maria Shevtsova, motherhow.com. (2017)

The diaphragm works by blocking sperm from getting in to the uterus. It is placed in the vagina and meant to cover the opening to your cervix. It is meant to be used with a spermicide as well. The spermicide kills the sperm before it can enter the uterus. “You can put it in up to 6 hours before you have sex, and you need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after” (WebMD, 2018).

When used correctly it is is 94% effective. However, a lot of people misuse and don’t place the diaphragm correctly in to place, so the rate is more like 88% effective (Planned Parenthood, 2018). You do need a prescription for a diaphragm though. Talk to your doctor and they should also be able to teach you how to properly “install” it before intercourse.

Risks and side effects include risk of STDs. They do not protect against STDs just to be clear. The more serious side effect is toxic shock syndrome. This is caused from a bacteria from the vagina being plugged up for several hours and turns in to an infection. It is also believed that women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection from using them from the bacteria being in the area.

Some downsides to this method include having to put it in 6 hours prior to having intercourse. You don’t have the option of “spur of the moment”. The upsides though are you can put it in and forget about it for 6 hours. You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day. It is hormone free. You can use it several times, but spermicide needs to be reapplied before each use and in between intercourse.

Copper IUD (ParaGard):

paragard
Photo Credit viewpoints, viewpoints.com. (2018)

This copper IUD works by releasing copper in the uterus and killing sperm before it enters the cervix. It is an IUD so it is placed in the uterus. It is good for up to 10 years. It is completely reversible and can be removed by a healthcare provider. It does need to be inserted by a healthcare provider too though.

When used correctly it is over 99% effective (Paragard.com, 2018). Risks and side effects include STDs, heavier and longer periods with bleeding in between cycles, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), perforation of the uterine wall, and hard surgical removal. This is not a complete list of all side effects for the Paragard, but these are the more common ones. Make sure you talk to your doctor before making a decision.

This is a good option for people who can’t take certain hormones due to diseases or disorders or medication interactions.

Rhythm Method:

rhytm method
Photo Credit Cedarmed International Medical Services, cedarmed.com. (2018)

The rhythm method is, basically, you track your cycle using a calendar. You track your ovulation window and your periods. You should mark when you start your cycle, and when you end. You should also anticipate 3 days before ovulation day and 3 days after as a window of getting pregnant. If you are going to use this method I highly recommend getting an app on your phone and using a condom for a few months until your app can properly start calculating your ovulation schedule.

This method has so many risks. This does not protect against STDs, high risk for pregnancy (100%), and miscalculations when tracking your cycle.

Surgical Sterilization:

I’m sure we all know what this means. Surgical sterilization is where you go to your doctor and ask to be sterilized so you can not have any more children. This method can not be reversed in most cases. Please consider all options before choosing this method.

-Tubal Ligation-

This is the female form of surgical sterilization. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. A tubal ligation “is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

-Vasectomy-

A vasectomy is the male form of surgical sterilization. In a vasectomy “the surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away” (WebMD, 2018).

Hormonal Birth Control:

There are so many choices to choose from with hormonal birth control methods. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the best option for you. These contraceptives work by using hormones released in to your body. Some patients are not allowed to have certain types of hormones due to diseases and disorders. There’s also your medical history and medication list to take in to consideration.

In most cases you can use hormonal birth control methods while breastfeeding. They are not meant to be used while pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

Pills, or Oral Contraceptives:

bc pillsOral contraceptives come in a wheel or in a package like the picture to the left of this section. How do oral contraceptives work? I am so glad you asked. When used correctly they release a hormone that prevents your body from ovulating. Therefore, your body is temporarily infertile.

Some work by releasing estrogen. Others work by releasing progesterone. They also offer oral contraceptives that release both hormones. You do need to take it every day at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This can be a pain in itself and a huge inconvenience. This can also be impractical for very busy women.

Depo-Provera Shot:

depo shot
Photo Credit Melissa Gardner, pajamamommy.com. (2017)

The Depo shot, or Depo-Provera shot, is an injection you get every 3 months. This method has so many advantages and disadvantages. It is a private form of birth control. No one, except you and your doctor, knows you’re using it. There is no stall of “being in the moment” with intercourse. You get injected every 3 months, then you can forget about it until you need to go to your next appointment.

The disadvantages include weight gain. You should maintain a proper diet and exercise regularly. The pain of getting a shot every 3 months is also something you should consider. If shots make you nervous you should reconsider this method. The other downside includes no prevention from STDs.

The shot works by releasing progesterone preventing ovulation. It also thickens the mucous in your cervix so the sperm can’t get through. When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Side effects include sporadic spotting for a few weeks, absence of periods, weight gain, dizziness, changes in appetite, and hair loss. These are just to name a few.

Hormone IUD:

mirena
Photo Credit Mirena, Mirena-us.com. (2017)

I think the most common hormone IUD we think of that’s on the market today is the Mirena IUD. It is a small T-shaped piece that gets implanted in to your uterus. It works by releasing levonorgestrel in to the uterus. It also thickens your mucous in your cervix and thins your uterus lining to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is good for up to 5 years. You have to have a doctor insert it and take it out.

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages with this one as well. The advantages are you can get it put in at the clinic office and forget about it for the next 5 years. You don’t ruin a “in the moment” moment. You also have the option of taking it out whenever you decide you want to get pregnant. When used correctly it is also over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

The disadvantages include no protection against STDs. It can get implanted in to the uterus wall and need surgical removal. You can experience pain from placement, excessive bleeding and spotting in between cycles, ovarian cysts, and pregnancy.

This should only be used on full grown women. It is not recommended for teen girls. I also do not recommend it for women who have not had children yet. Your uterus would not be used to it and stretched out and the IUD could expel itself.

Hormone Implant:

nexplanon
Photo Credit MacArthur, macarthurmc.com. (2018)

The hormonal implant on the market today is the Nexplanon. This is a little stick looking piece that is filled with hormones. It’s funny because the website doesn’t actually say which hormone (which I find kinda shady). It gets surgically implanted in to the skin of your upper arm. Your arm will be locally numbed, then the stick will be implanted under the skin in your arm. “Immediately after the insertion, you and your health care provider will feel for NEXPLANON to ensure that it has been placed correctly. If you can’t feel it, contact your health care provider immediately and use a non-hormonal birth control method (such as condoms) until your health care provider confirms that the implant is in place. The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to a failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Following the insertion, you’ll have to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours and a small bandage for 3 to 5 days.” (Nexplanon, 2018).

When used correctly it is over 99% effective. With this form of birth control there are so many advantages and disadvantages. There will more than likely be a scar where the hormonal stick is implanted. When removed they will need to cut you open to remove it. Also, you may experience longer or shorter periods, spotting in between periods, weight gain, acne, depression, mood swings, pain, pain at insertion site, and problems with removal. The problems with removal include pain, irritation, scarring, swelling, bruising, injury to nerve or blood vessels at site, it may also break. These are just to name a few.

The advantages include it is effective for up to 3 years. You can take it out at any time if you plan to become pregnant. You get it inserted at the clinic by your doctor and you don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 years.

Vaginal Ring:

nuvaring
Photo Credit Lydie Stock/Fotolia. (2017)

The vaginal ring is not for those who are, what I like to call, “vagina shy”. This is something you replace monthly and you have to personally insert it in to your vagina yourself. On the market there is the NuvaRing. This is a lot different than the other forms of hormonal birth control methods. This is a flexible ring that gets inserted in to your vagina.

This works using estrogen and progesterone both. It is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is to be removed after 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your menstrual cycle. Then the next month you insert a new one. You will need a prescription for this.

Risks and side effects include blood clots in your legs, lungs, heart, eyes or brain. You also could develop liver problems, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and gallbladder problems. Again, these are to just name a few of the risks and side effects.

Hormone Patch:

ortho evra patch
Photo Credit Center for Young Women’s Health, youngwomenshealth.org. (2017)

The hormonal patch, also known as the transdermal patch or Ortho Evra Patch, is a patch you wear for 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your period. The next week you will need to re-apply another patch. It uses both estrogen and progesterone. The patch is only about 91% effective at preventing pregnancy. It releases hormones in to the skin. These hormones work like the depo shot. Your body stop ovulation temporarily.

Risks and side effects include skin irritation, STDs, bleeding, vomiting, weight gain, and bloating. These are to name a few. You also have a higher risk of developing yeast infections and can develop depression issues.

Do you have a preference? Have you had a good/bad experience with one of the forms of birth control addressed in this article? I would love to hear from you and hear your experience. This is a great way to help other women who have questions as well.

Resources:

Dictionary.com. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

MedicineNet. (2018). Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/condoms/article.htm#femalestds

American Pregnancy Association. (2018). Male Condom. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/male-condom/

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control: Is the Diaphragm Right for you? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/diaphragm-birth-control#1

Paragard. (2018). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.paragard.com/Faqs.aspx

Planned Parenthood. (2018). How Effective are Diaphragms? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm/how-effective-are-diaphragms

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Tubal Ligation. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360

WebMD. (2018). Vasectomy: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-overview#1

Mirena. (2017). What is Mirena? Retrieved from https://www.mirena-us.com/index.php/?pse=google&matchtype=e&Keyword=mirena&campaignid=601337644&adgroupid=29788072950&device=c&adposition=1t1&loc=9016368&gclid=Cj0KCQiAiKrUBRD6ARIsADS2OLmQ54_aMbftwWxjnd0qdC9Edpas08ock9ejoEkKudJ3snnmQs8VufwaAtsuEALw_wcB&dclid=CPPS7ey0stkCFUqDaQodKCAJGQ

MedlinePlus. (2018). Levonorgestrel Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a610021.html

Nexplanon. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from https://www.nexplanon.com/

NuvaRing. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from https://www.nuvaring.com/

American Pregnancy Association. (2018). Birth Control Patch. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/birth-control-patch/