Skip to Content

Ask the Provider

Diane Larson, APRN, CNM

Midwife at Stellis Health

Learning More About Birth Control Options

Question: I am looking for the right birth control. What are some of the new recommendations for birth control options?

Answer: Not ready for a baby right now but not ready to make the decision final? No problem. There are more options available now than there ever have been, and the options are safer and cause fewer side effects than before. Here are some of the birth control options currently available:

Combination Estrogen/Progestin Forms of Birth Control: The Pill, The Patch, The Nuva Ring

The combination birth control pill, containing estrogen and progestin, is probably the form of birth control women are most aware of.  With this pill, you need to remember to take it daily. Along with providing birth control, this pill also helps regulate periods and makes them lighter and less painful. It is very effective if taken at the same time every day, but does cause some side effects for women. It may cause headaches, nausea, or breast tenderness, but usually these side effects wear off with time. About 1/3 of women gain weight, 1/3 of women lose weight, and 1/3 of women have no weight change on the pill. Women shouldn’t be on the pill if they smoke, are over the age of 35, have a blood clotting disorder, or if they get migraines.

The Patch, also known as Ortho Evra, is an estrogen/progestin containing patch that is applied once per week for three weeks, followed by a week with no patch. During this week, the woman experiences a period. Side effects are similar to those noticed on the combination pill.

The Nuva Ring is a soft flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina once a month, left in for three weeks, and removed. During the ring-free week, the woman has a a period. Again, side effects are similar to those experienced with the pill.

 The Progestin Only Pill: The Mini Pill

The progestin only pill is also called the mini pill. It is used for women who want to take a pill but do not tolerate estrogen. It is most often used in women who are breastfeeding because it doesn’t reduce milk supply.   It is less able to regulate periods, and not quite as effective as the combined pill containing estrogen  and progestin, so most women who can take the combination pill often choose that option.

Long Acting Reversible Contraception: Intrauterine Devices and Nexplanon Implants

Long acting reversible contraception choices are the first choice of most female health care providers for their own birth control. They are recommended by health care providers for all age groups including adolescents and women who have never had a baby.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states they are the most effective and safest form of contraception available.  The Nexplanon implant and the Copper IUD (Paraguard) and Progesterone only IUDs, such as MIRENA contain no estrogen so they are safe for women who cannot be on an estrogen containing form of birth control. Both of these types of devices take only minutes to insert during an office visit, and most women tolerate the insertion procedures without significant discomfort.

Depo Provera:
Depo provera is a progestin shot that is given every 13 weeks in the clinic, it is very effective, but can cause unscheduled bleeding in some women especially after the first shot. Generally, the long-term side effects include absence of the period.  Many women gain weight on the Depo Provera shot. 

Condoms are less effective than other forms of birth control, however they are the best way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Health care providers recommend using condoms as well as another form of birth control. 

Today, there are several ways to find a birth control option to suit your individual needs. Talk with your Midwife or OB/GYN to determine the birth control option that is right for you.


CentraCare Health - Monticello

1013 Hart Boulevard, Suite 1
Monticello, MN 55362
Phone: 763-295-2945
Business Office: 800-835-6618
Monticello Medical Group: 763-271-2200
Get Directions