Birth Control Options

On this page you’ll find information about different types of birth control methods that we at the Annex can help provide for you. If you’d like to learn more about your options, you should attend one of our free classes about birth control.

The Pill

The pill is made up of two hormones that your body produces naturally- progestin and estrogen. There are a lot of different kinds of the pill with different hormone levels. There’s also a “mini pill” that’s only progestin. If you’re having issues with the one you’re on, we can adjust to a different type until we find one that works for you.

You take one pill each day at the same time of day. Each pill pack has four rows of pills with seven in each row. The 4th row of pills are the inactive pills- that’s the week you’ll get your period. Even though there are no active hormones in this row, we recommend taking them just to stay consistent with taking a pill each day- it’s very easy to skip that week and then forget to start them on time again.

Benefits: You’ll  have more predictable periods and lighter menstrual bleeding.

Drawbacks: You need to take the pill at the same time of day, every day. No protection against STIs.

The Patch

The patch contains the same two hormones as the pill- progestin and estrogen. It’s a band-aid like square patch. Each week for three weeks you’ll place a patch on a different place on your body, and the 4th week when you don’t place a patch you’ll get your period.

Benefits: You only have to think about birth control once per week instead of once per day. It’s easy to use- just like sticking on a band aid.

Drawbacks: Once in a while, the patch can fall off or become itchy. (We recommend cleaning the area well and letting it dry before you apply your patch- this will help with both of those). No protection against STIs.

The Ring

The ring has the same two hormones (progestin and estrogen) as the patch and the pill. It’s inserted into the vagina. The ring stays in for three full weeks. The fourth week, you’ll remove it, and that’s the week you’ll get your period. The ring stays in all the time—while showering, using tampons, having sex, etc.

Benefits: You only need to think about birth control once per month instead of daily or weekly. It’s easy to use- just like putting in a tampon.

Drawbacks: Some people can feel the ring during sex. If this is an issue for you, the ring can be removed, but only up to three hours.  No protection against STIs.

The Shot

The shot works a little different because it has only one hormone- progestin. You’ll come to the clinic and get a shot in either the arm or the upper butt, just like other vaccinations. Every twelve weeks (three months) after, you’ll come back in for another shot.

Benefits: You only need to think about birth control every three months. As long as you make and keep your appointments, there’s no way to “screw up” this method. It’s also very private – no one will know you’re on this method unless you tell them.

Drawbacks: The shot will affect your period. After the first one, expect some irregular, unpredictable bleeding (not usually as heavy as a period) for about six months. No protection against STIs.

The Rod

The rod is a matchstick-sized piece of flexible plastic that gets inserted under the skin of your upper arm and is good for three years. It’s one of the most effective methods. The rod slowly releases a hormone into your body over that three years. It’s put in and removed by a doctor. The area on your arm is numbed and you just feel a little pressure.

Benefits: It’s long term -you only need to think about birth control every three years. This method is so effective because you can’t do anything to mess it up once it’s in. It’s also very private- no one will know you’re on this method unless you tell them.

Drawbacks: For the first 3-6 months on the rod, expect some irregular and unpredictable bleeding. It’s not as heavy as a period, but it can be a pain while your body is adjusting to the hormones. After that time, lots of people on this method stop getting periods or have them infrequently. Some people love this, and some don’t. No protection against STIs.

IUD

One of the most effective methods, the IUD is a small, plastic device that gets inserted into your uterus. It is put in by a doctor and will be removed by a doctor. The doctor will use a device called a “sound” to measure your uterus and how far the IUD goes in. They’ll dilate your cervix (this can cause cramping- we recommend taking a couple Ibuprofin before your appointment to help) and insert the IUD into your uterus.

There are strings that hang down into your vagina – this is a way for you to check and make sure it’s still in place. Those strings can be trimmed down. Your periods may be irregular or unpredictable after you first starting using the IUD. Most people on IUD’s stop getting a period after a few months, or may have very light periods.

At the Annex, getting an IUD typically requires two appointments. During the first appointment, we’ll go over the details of how the method works, review your medical history, and work out financial coverage. Then we’ll ask you to come back in a couple of weeks (during the first few days of your period is ideal) to place the IUD. You may be put on a different method of birth control for those few weeks to ensure that you’re not pregnant when you come back for placement.

Benefits: You only need to think about birth control every five years. This method is so effective because you can’t do anything to mess it up. It’s also private- no one will know you’re on this method unless you tell them.

Drawbacks: You can experience some mild cramping up to a week after the insertion. You might also have some spotting and irregular bleeding for the first few months after getting the IUD. No protection against STIs.

Condoms

The Annex carries both male and female condoms. The male condom is a thin sheath that fits over the penis and catches sperm. The female condom is a thin sheath with a flexible ring for insertion into the vagina.

These “barrier” methods physically prevent bodily fluids from touching each other, and that’s why they’re great for both pregnancy prevention AND prevention sexually transmitted infections! Condoms are available over the counter so they’re easy to get and they’re pretty cheap (only $1 for 10 condoms here at the Annex!)

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is used AFTER sex to prevent a pregnancy if you were unprotected, forgot to take your pill or the condom broke, etc. It’s meant to be a back up method only. The Annex carries two kinds of emergency contraception: Plan B and Ella, and you can learn more about what it’s like take them here.