Implant—The implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a women’s upper arm. The rod contains a progestin that is released into the body over 3 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.05%.

A great choice for patients who do not want to get the vaginally inserted IUD. However, unlike the IUD the Implant is hormonal based and the patient may experience side effects commonly associated with the pill.

Injection or “shot”—Women get shots of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months from their doctor. Typical use failure rate: 6%.

Combined oral contraceptives—Also called “the pill,” combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. A pill is taken at the same time each day. If you are older than 35 years and smoke, have a history of blood clots or breast cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill. Typical use failure rate: 9%.

Progestin-only pill—Unlike the combined pill, the progestin-only pill (sometimes called the mini-pill) only has one hormone, progestin, instead of both estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. It is taken at the same time each day. It may be a good option for women who can’t take estrogen. Typical use failure rate: 9%.

Patch—This skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body (but not on the breasts). This method is prescribed by a doctor. It releases hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks. During the fourth week, you do not wear a patch, so you can have a menstrual period. Typical use failure rate: 9%, but may be higher in women who weigh more than 198 pounds.

Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring—The ring releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. You place the ring inside your vagina. You wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week you have your period, and then put in a new ring. Typical use failure rate: 9%.

Emergency contraception—Emergency contraception is NOT a regular method of birth control. Emergency contraception can be used after no birth control was used during sex, or if the birth control method failed, such as if a condom broke.

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