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Family Planning and Contraception
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s doctors can help patients seeking pregnancy prevention choose a contraceptive method that meets their goals. Information about safety, effectiveness, and available options empowers our patients to make an informed decision.
Personalized Birth Control Counseling and Options
Birth control, also known as contraception, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control options can be divided by their characteristics, including:
- Reversible versus permanent
- Hormone containing (progestin with or without estrogen) versus hormone free
- Predictable bleeding patterns versus unpredictable or irregular bleeding patterns
- More user controlled versus “get it and forget it”
- Perfect and typical-use efficacy
The choice of which method to use depends on a person’s preferences, medical history, and lifestyle.
The family planning and contraception team at UT Southwestern helps people make informed choices about their fertility, using a patient-centric and evidence-based approach. Our specialists have advanced training in treating all patients, including those who have multiple medical issues and complex contraception needs.
Types of Birth Control
- Intrauterine device (IUD): The intrauterine device is a small, plastic device that is placed in the uterus by a provider. IUDs can be used by women of all ages, including teenagers and those who have never had children. Both hormonal (progestin) and non-hormonal (copper) devices are available. This method is long-acting (three to 12 years) and reversible.
- Implant: The implant is a small, thin rod placed under the skin of the upper arm by a provider. It contains hormones (progestin) and is both long acting (three to five years) and reversible.
- Injection: The injection is given in the arm or buttock every 12 to 14 weeks. Its efficacy depends on adhering to the recommended schedule.
- Combined hormonal contraception (CHC): These methods contain estrogen and progestin. Some people may be advised not to use estrogen-containing methods due to their health history. When used with a hormone-free period, CHC methods typically cause predictable bleeding patterns. Their efficacy depends on how well the patient adheres to the recommended use. CHC options include:
- Pill: A daily pill used with or without a hormone-free break
- Patch: A patch that is placed weekly for three weeks, followed by a week with no patch
- Vaginal ring: A flexible ring that is placed into the vagina by the patient for three weeks with or without a hormone-free break
- Progestin-only pill: Sometimes called the “mini pill,” these pills do not contain estrogen. They are typically taken daily without a break, and their efficacy is more dependent on daily use at a consistent time than combined hormonal contraceptive pills are.
- Barrier contraception: Barrier methods are physical or chemical barriers that prevent sperm from passing through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg. Types of barriers include the diaphragm sponge, cervical cap, male condom, female condom, and spermicide.
- Fertility awareness-based methods: This method involves understanding what days of the month you are fertile (able to become pregnant) and either avoiding sex or using barrier contraceptive methods on those days. These methods work best for people with regular, consistent menstrual cycles.
- Lactational-amenorrhea methods: For people who are fewer than six months postpartum, not menstruating, and fully or nearly fully breastfeeding, this method can be used temporarily to prevent pregnancy.
- Permanent contraception: Several options are available for permanent birth control:
- Surgical removal or ligation of the fallopian tubes is a procedure performed in an operating room by a doctor. It permanently prevents pregnancy and is not reversible. It generally does not affect menstrual cycle or sexual function.
- Vasectomy is an office procedure performed by some providers such as urologists. It permanently prevents sperm from reaching the ejaculate and causing pregnancy. It requires about 90 days from the procedure before it is effective.
- Emergency contraception: These methods can be used after unprotected sex to decrease the risk of pregnancy. Options include the placement of a copper IUD or taking a pill. These methods are most effective within three to five days after unprotected intercourse. Some pills require a prescription, but over-the-counter options are available.
Complex Family Planning
While family planning services such as contraception are available for most patients through providers in obstetrics and gynecology and family medicine, the UT Southwestern Complex Contraception Program provides contraceptive counseling for patients with medical comorbidities or unique considerations who seek to prevent pregnancy.
Patient conditions include:
- Breast disease
- Organ transplant
- Bleeding disorders
- Neurologic conditions such as seizures
- Other circumstances that may affect contraceptive decision making
We seek to provide expert, evidence-based, patient-centered recommendations in collaboration with each patient's medical care team. As part of the Clements University Hospital Gynecology Service, we offer telemedicine and in-person visits at the Lowe Foundation Women’s Center by Courtney Baker, M.D., M.P.H., a specialist in complex family planning.
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Plano, Texas 75093 469-497-2980