What are the female birth contol options nowadays, esp. long-term options

So, what’s up in female birth control nowadays? What long-term options are there, and are they any good in practice? Are IUDs still painful, or have things changed? Do they still implant things in arms?

Love my Paragard IUD. Other than a break to have a baby, I’ve had one in since 2003. No problems with it at all.

Nuvaring is a plastic ring impregnated (heh!) with contraceptive hormones that you insert in your vaginal canal and leave in for a month. It’s not that new but I’m not sure what your point of reference is.

I haven’t used any of the long-term methods myself, so no personal experiences to report, but Planned Parenthood has a good overview of the different methods here. They do still implant thingies in arms; the brand name is Implanon, and it’s supposed to be good for three years.

The Planned Parenthood site lists only generic IUDs, but nothing specific about any particular kind. The Paragard is apparently a copper-T IUD with no hormones. I’ve heard of the Mirena IUD with hormones, but I don’t know anyone who’s ever used it. I guess the idea is the hormones are supposed to make it more effective while perhaps lowering potential cramping side effects. The Implanon arm implant seems pretty cool - no cramping involved, but needs surgical insertion and removal.

I have a Mirena (hormone releasing IUS), and while the insertiion was somewhat painful, that was only for a few minutes, and it’s been worth it ten time over for not having to think about contraception for the last 3 years.

I’m hoping to get Implanon this year. My doctor was all about it when I saw her last September. It takes “surgery” but it’s totally outpatient, just an office visit.

IUDs only really hurt going in, and that’s because your cervix is being manually dilated. It hurts a lot, even with the numbing to the cervix that I was given by the wonderful staff at Planned Parenthood a couple of years back. If I end up with the option of getting a new one in a decade (mine lasts for 12 years) for one reason or another, I’d do it again. It sucks for the first couple of weeks, but it’s not that bad once you’re a few hours post-insertion.

I’ve got the Paragard (copper-T), and the first year was an interesting experiment as my uterus got used to having a permanent non-living resident. Through that year, I had heavier periods and more unpredictable ones, but it settled out after that. I don’t have to think about birth control or whether I’m pregnant, and the idea of a piece of plastic and copper in my uterus squicks me out way less than hormonal stick-thingies surgically implanted in my arm. I just can’t past the whole “you have to get cut open to get them back out” bit.

Look over your options, talk to your doctor about what they are and are not willing to do, and decide from there. If you’re a person who’s easily affected (and not in a good way) by hormonal birth control, you may not want a long-term hormonal method; conversely, a long-term hormonal method may be ideal for you.

I seriously adore my Mirena, it’s the best birth control I’ve ever had. One day of slight cramping upon insertion, and not a second thought about birth control for the 4 years since. I’m in the blessed percentage of women whose periods all but cease and for me that’s golden. 3 or 4 days of schmutzy discharge a year and zero hormonal craziness? Worth it’s weight in gold.

I know one person with a Mirena IUD, and she loves it; however, she doesn’t get her period for months and months at a time because of the hormones. Because I’m a little paranoid about the possibility of pregnancy, this would not have been a good solution for me. I do, however, think IUDs are a great solution if you’re not at an increased risk of contracting an STD-- the strings make it MUCH easier to catch whatever a casual partner may be passing around, and IME, many healthcare providers want to at least hear you say you’re in a monogamous relationship in order to go ahead with the procedure.

When my wife was told that (because of high blood pressure) she really shouldn’t be taking birth control pills anymore, we decided it was time for me to get a vasectomy. It was a trivial procedure, really, and seems to have worked fine.

Maybe it wasn’t technically female birth control, but the net effect was the same.

Note that out two daughters were teenagers already, and we felt that two was all we wanted to have.

Vasectomies are great, but I’m thinking more along the lines of what long-term options a single female has nowadays.

I had an Essure procedure done a few years back (http://www.betterhealthchannel.com.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Female_sterilisation?open, scroll down a bit): a micro-insert is inserted into each fallopian tube, and the body basically produces scar tissue around the insert, blocking the fallopian tube. It’s not instant - takes about three months for the scar tissue to form - and it is permanent, rather than long-term.

I have Implanon at the moment. It was really straightforward to insert (basically just inject a little sliver into your arm - about as much fuss as a vaccination). I did have some hormonal problems with it at the start (incredibly heavy periods) but then it settled down. I’d get it again (it lasts 3 years)

However, apparently some women do experience complete absence of periods on it. If that’s not for you, it might be a problem. OTOH, you can always get it removed after a few months if, for whatever reason, you don’t like it.

There’s the depo provera shot, which you get every three months. It worked fine for me though I didn’t use it that long, though some people have had a lot of weight gain on it, and I don’t recommend it if you want kids at some point, mostly because it can take a really long time to become fertile again after stopping the shot, so you’d have to plan pretty far ahead, and use some other method between ending the depo and actually trying to conceive.

I got all excited about this option when I was told about it. Until I read the fine print - its not for people with a skin sensitivity to nickel, just as a heads up to others who may have that problem too.

I just had my daughter at her doctor’s office yesterday for this very reason. She is a family practice doctor, not Planned Parenthood or a Gyn, so she may not be up on all the latest, greatest methods…but basically the options we were offered for my daughter were what has already been mentioned here (except IUD which the doc recommended against mainly due to my daughter’s age).

For this doctor at least, the pill seemed to still be the most popular choice, which we declined due to not trusting my daughter to take it reliably. Her next best options were the ring, the patch, depo, and the arm implant.

The Nuvaring (I think that’s what it’s called) and the patch had similar problems associated with them as the pill (mainly not trusting daughter to use it appropriately) so we went with the depo shots which seem to be the best, least invasive long-term (reversible) option. Lots of unpleasant potential side effects though…

A lot has changed since then, but I’ll share my experience with *|unamed Norwegian BC Implant| *. I had very little trouble with the implantation, and it worked beautifully for about 3.5 years. But after the hormones started to lecome lower, I had real trouble getting it removed. At first I didn’t have insurance, and everyone I called wanted an inpossible amount of money to remove it. They also didn’t want to start the procedure if they were going to have trouble hospitalizing me if somehting went wrong. So I suffered through an insane aombination of hormonal problems including a six-month-long period, and the accompanying mood and iron deficiency problems.

Once I got employed/insured again, the insurance company claimed it was a pre-existing condition, and refused to cover it.

I finally found a sympathetic Internist who had done a rotation in surgery, and seemed happy about using his surgery chops. When he went to get the implant out it was slippery and fragile, and surrounded by fibrrous tissue. The removal was a complete nightmare, and the office was covered in blood by the time he completed the process.

The Pre-existing condition excuse is gone now (Thank you Mr. Obama!) but be sure that you get some information about what removals of the product are like before you get an implant.

There are some baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad side effects with Depo, though. If you don’t get the side effects, it’s awesome. But if you do, you’re boned because you can’t just stop taking it; you’re stuck with the side effects for months.

Yup. The definite upside of the pill, patch and ring are that you can cease use if you get suicidal or start losing hair in clumps. Not great when you’ve got finals in a week!