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The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
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Birth Control: Reversible and Permanent Options

Some studies show that nearly half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Since 2000, several new methods have been introduced into the mix, giving modern women and their partners different options to fit their needs.

There are two basic categories of birth control methods: reversible and permanent. Reversible methods include intrauterine devices, hormonal methods, barrier methods and fertility-awareness based methods. Permanent methods include tubal ligation, transcervical sterilization such as Essure, and male vasectomy.

Birth Control


Intrauterine Contraception

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic T-shaped device that your AOA doctor inserts into your uterus. The plastic contains copper or synthetic progesterone that prevents pregnancy. A progesterone IUD can remain in place up to five years and a copper IUD up to 10 years and both are 99% effective. An IUD creates changes inside the uterus and in the cervical mucus that kills or immobilizes sperm. It also changes the lining of the uterus, which prevents implantation should fertilization occur. IUDs do not prevent sexually transmitted disease (STDs).

Hormonal Methods

Basic hormonal methods include implants, injections, oral contraceptives, the patch, and the hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring. Your AOA healthcare provider can help you sort through the options and weigh the pros and cons that are specific to your time in life and sexual activity.

All of the various hormonal methods are between 91% and 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. As with IUDs, hormonal methods do not prevent STDs.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods include male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps, and spermicides in various forms including gels, foam, cream, suppositories, or tablets. These various options range between 79% and 98% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and may also help prevent STDs.

Fertility Awareness

Understanding your fertility pattern – knowing which days of the month that you are fertile, days when you are not fertile, and days when fertility is unlikely, but possible – is another way to avoid pregnancy. If you avoid sex on those days you are fertile, or use a barrier method during those days and the days when fertility is unlikely but possible, this form of birth control can be between 75% and 96% effective.


There are three forms of permanent birth control: female sterilization via a tubal ligation, also known as “tying tubes,” transcervical sterilization, and male sterilization or vasectomy.

Female Sterilization - Tubal Ligation

A tubal ligation is a procedure in which a woman has her fallopian tubes tied or closed so that the sperm and eggs cannot come into contact with one another. This is a simple procedure that can be done in a hospital or at an outpatient center and patients go home the same day. The procedure is effective immediately.

Transcervical Sterilization - Essure

In this procedure, your AOA healthcare provider places soft, flexible inserts into each of your fallopian tubes through the vagina and cervix. Over the next three months, your body works with the inserts to form a natural barrier (scar tissue) to prevent sperm from reaching your eggs. During this initial three-month period it is important to continue to use another form of birth control. At the end of three months you must return to your doctor and be tested to see if the scar tissue has fully blocked the fallopian tubes. At that point you can discontinue using additional birth control methods.

Male Sterilization – Vasectomy

In this procedure, the vas deferens (a narrow tube that connects the testicles to the urethra) from each testicle is clamped or cut. This prevents sperm from mixing with semen during ejaculation. The testicles continue to produce sperm, but the man’s body reabsorbs the sperm. After a vasectomy, you must continue to use alternative birth control for several months until the man’s semen is tested and shows a zero sperm count.

Talk with your AOA doctor about which form of birth control is right for you. There is no one-size-fits all procedure and it is important to consider you and your family’s needs to make the right choice.

Learn more about both reversible and permanent birth control options:


Birth Control