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What Are the Newer Methods of Birth Control?

Learn what the newer methods of birth control are, and what you need to know about each one to make an informed decision.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD
4-minute read

Since the invention of the birth control pill about 50 years ago, medical contraceptive technology has advanced quite a bit. Sure the pill is still probably the most common method of birth control, but there are many newer, more advanced methods available nowadays.

What Are the Newer Methods of Birth Control?

I’m always surprised to hear that many people still don’t’ know about these newer methods. Do you know your options? In this article I’ll go over 4 newer birth control options and the pros and cons of them all.

Newer Birth Control Option #1: Implant

The contraceptive implant is a thin 4cm x 2 mm rod that is inserted right under the skin of your upper arm by your doctor. It works by releasing a progesterone-only hormone (meaning, no estrogen). This is 99% effective, and has been FDA approved since 2006 for contraception. It lasts 3 years, and is one of the most effective birth control options out there. After the three years, you must have the implant removed.

Pros of the Implant

The Implant has 3 main pros:

  • It’s discrete. There is no “pill box” to hide. Seems to be a more popular method amongst the younger generation of women in particular, because of this.

  • There’s nothing to remember. You don’t have to worry about taking a pill every day if you tend to forget.

  • It’s long term. You don’t need to worry about birth control for three entire years. 

Cons of the Implant

The Implant is not without its downsides.

  • During the first year, 50% of women report having more bleeding: whether it’s with more frequent periods, longer periods, heavier periods, or bleeding or spotting in between their periods.  After the first year, however, most women report less bleeding overall. 

  • The other con of this birth control method is that it doesn’t protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). Only condoms or abstinence can protect against STI’s. 

Newer Birth Control Option #2: Vaginal Ring

This is a plastic circular vaginal ring that you insert yourself into the vagina (similar to inserting a tampon) and leave in for three weeks. Every three weeks, you take it out for one week, when you will typically have your period, and then replace with a new ring again for three weeks, etc. The hormones are released from the plastic ring into the vaginal tissue.  There is no wrong way to put it in, and it really does stay up there. It also does not interfere with intercourse, and most male partners report that even if they do feel it, that it not bothersome.

Pros of the Vaginal Ring:

  • Don’t need to remember to take a pill every day. 

  • No need to undergo an office procedure to obtain a longer birth control method.

Cons of the Vaginal Ring:

  • If you’ve never used a tampon or you are not comfortable inserting an object into the vaginal area, then this may not be the best option for ya.

  • It doesn’t protect against STI’s. Only condoms or abstinence can protect against STI’s. 

Newer Birth Control Option #3: Intrauterine Device (IUD)

This is a small T-shaped device that has been around since the 1980s and is inserted into the uterus during a five minute procedure in the doctor’s office. It is 99% effective, and there are two types: one that lasts up to 5 years  and releases a progesterone-only hormone, and one that is made of copper and lasts up to 10 years without any hormones . 

Pros of the Intrauterine Device

Intrauterine devices have two main benefits:

  • There’s nothing to remember: As with the Implant, there’s no need to remember to take a pill every day or place a vaginal ring every month. 

  • Good non-hormonal option: If you want or need a non-hormonal method of birth control, the 10 year IUD is a good option to consider.

Cons of the Intrauterine Device:

  • Some of the cons depend upon which IUD you use.The 5 year IUD with hormones may cause irregular bleeding the first six months, but then after that most women report less bleeding or cessation of periods altogether. This may be a good option for those women with heavier periods who hope to use contraception in order to lighten it. But then again, if you are one of those women who simply feels relieved to get her periods monthly, then this may not be the right option for ya.

  • The 10 year copper IUD may actually cause heavier periods in some women, and therefore may not be ideal for someone with already heavy periods.

  • Here’s a quick and dirty tip: Make sure your provider leaves the strings long so that you can feel it and so that it does not “rise up” into the uterus – because if that were to happen, you’d need to have surgery under general anesthesia to remove that IUD (not fun).

  • As with all of the other methods of birth control in this article, it doesn’t protect against STI’s. 

Newer Birth Control Option #4: Sterilization

For men, there is now a special no-scalpel-no-needle office technique that causes minimal discomfort and that is performed under local anesthesia.   It is a quick 15 minute procedure with a quick recovery time. It’s definitely the fastest, most effective, and least complicated method of permanent birth control. So for all you men out there: there’s no longer the need to be afraid!

For women, there is even a newer more advanced method tubal ligation performed by a physician in the office. No longer do you need to be placed under general anesthesia with those long recovery times. 

These newer methods of sterilization are both faster and less painful—and they have a much quicker recovery time than prior traditional sterilization methods.

Pros of Sterilization

  • The pros of sterilization are pretty obvious. You no longer need to give a second thought to taking any type of birth control on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. In fact, you don’t ever have to think about it again!

  • They are one of the most effective birth control options out there.

Cons of Sterilization

  • The cons are pretty obvious, too. Sterilization is permanent. That means there is no going back. Make sure you no longer want children before even considering this option.

  • It is still a procedure, and with procedures, there are always risks of infection and bleeding.

  • And, of course, sterilization doesn’t protect against STI’s. 

 

Medical Disclaimer
Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.