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Birth Control Options: Temporary and Permanent

Life has lots of transitions — from infant to toddler, and youth to adult. For some, another transition is considering when to start a family.

Later in life, your transition may be to end fertility when you’re done growing your family.

If your next life transition involves birth control, you have some important choices to make. Depending on your stage of life, you may be considering either temporary or permanent birth control. Visit with your health care clinician or an OBGYN specialist about the best options for you.

Temporary Birth Control

Your options include:

  • Rhythm method — This involves not using birth control and avoiding sex during fertile times of the month.
  • Hormonal methods — Includes the pill, vaginal ring or a hormone patch. They mimic natural hormones in a woman’s body. They prevent ovulation and change the uterus and cervix so fertilization is much less likely to happen.
  • Barrier methods — Condoms, a diaphragm, sponge or cervical cap. The barriers stop sperm from reaching the egg.
  • Injectable methods — Progestin is injected every three months. Since the hormone dosage is less than other options, some patients prefer it. This method prevents conception similarly to other hormonal methods.

You may prefer a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC). These methods can last for three to 10 years. LARCs include:

  • Intrauterine devices — A T-shaped device is inserted into the uterus. The devices keep sperm from reaching the egg. There are two types of IUDs, hormonal and non-hormonal. Copper, non-hormone containing IUDs last approximately 10 years and hormone containing IUDSs last 3 to 5 years.
  • Hormonal implants — A match-stick sized plastic rod is implanted under the skin of the patient’s upper arm. The rod releases a special contraceptive hormone. This delivery system has hormonal results similar to hormonal and injectable methods.


Permanent Birth Control

Your health care clinician can give you important information about your options for permanent birth control — also known as sterilization. The National Institutes of Health describes three approaches:

  • Tubal ligation — During this surgery, the clinician cuts, ties or seals your fallopian tubes. This blocks the egg’s path from your ovaries to the uterus. It also stops sperm from reaching the egg.
  • Sterilization implant — This is a nonsurgical way to block your fallopian tubes. A clinician inserts a thin tube through the vagina and into the uterus. A soft, flexible implant is placed in each fallopian tube. During the following three months scar tissue forms around the implants. This scar tissue blocks the fallopian tubes so sperm can’t reach the egg. Temporary birth control is used while the fallopian tube tissue changes.
  • Vasectomy — This is an option for permanent male birth control. A surgeon cuts, closes or blocks the vas deferens. This is the duct that carries sperm from the testes to the ejaculatory ducts. Once the duct is blocked, sperm can’t leave the testis. This procedure may not be fully effective for up to three months. Temporary birth control is used during the three months after the procedure.

When considering permanent birth control options, check with your health care clinician. Some health care facilities have policies that limit the permanent birth control options they offer. Tubal ligation and vasectomy may not be available to you.

Tubal ligation and vasectomies are available at Aurora Health Care.

When you’re ready to make a change in your fertility, make an appointment with a clinician online or quickly and easily find a doctor. We’ll help guide you as you plan each fertility transition in your life. 

If low fertility happens to be your challenge, we can help you work through those treatment options as well.

Meet the Author

Ashley L. McSorley, DO, is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Aurora Health Center in Racine, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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