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Birth control (contraception) is an important part of your healthcare, and not only because it prevents unintended pregnancies.

When you think of birth control, your mind might go right to preventing pregnancy. That’s an important part of your birth control plan, but birth control can help a variety of medical conditions you might have. From acne and painful periods to endometriosis and ovarian cysts, birth control can be a part of your larger treatment plan.

There are a lot of options when it comes to birth control. How do you pick one? At Cleveland Clinic, our healthcare providers are here to guide you through the process of finding the right birth control for you. We’ll talk to you about your goals, lifestyle and other conditions to find something that fits your life.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Birth Control Counseling?

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Patient-centered care

Our specialists can help you with every method of birth control available. They understand that your birth control goals are unique and may change throughout your life. They’ll listen and talk to you about every possible option to best meet your needs.

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Caring approach:

We provide the highest quality care and birth control counseling. You’ll be supported. We’ll be compassionate. And it will be confidential.

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Demonstrated expertise:

We’re known for our exceptional care in general gynecology and obstetrics, but we also have subspecialists trained in complex family planning if you have underlying medical conditions. Plus, our experts can help if you’ve experienced side effects that make birth control challenging.

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Innovation and research:

We’re committed to research, education and fellow training in the field of family planning and using birth control for neurological disorders, like migraines.

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National recognition:

U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s top hospitals. And in 2021, Newsweek named us one of the world’s top hospitals.

What to Expect at Your Birth Control Counseling Visit

Scheduling a visit with your healthcare provider — either in person or virtually — to talk about birth control options is an important first step in finding something that’s right for you. Besides asking about your medical history and any current medical conditions, your healthcare provider may ask:

  • What’s most important to you about birth control (effectiveness, ease of use, less painful periods or fewer side effects).
  • If and when you plan to get pregnant in the future. This will determine if a short- or long-acting form of birth control is the best choice for you.
  • What birth control methods you currently use or have used in the past and what you like or don’t like about these methods.
  • What side effects you’ve experienced.
  • What you hope happens if you want birth control for a reason other than preventing pregnancy.

After this first conversation, your healthcare provider will discuss your birth control options. You’ll talk about the pros, cons and effectiveness of each option and potential risks or side effects. Your provider will then recommend what type of contraception may be the best choice for you. You typically won’t need a pelvic exam during an in-person birth control counseling visit.

Locations

Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio, and in Florida.

Birth Control Options

Long-acting options

If you’re not planning to become pregnant in the near future and don’t want to think about birth control every day, one of these long-acting options might be good for you.

  • Arm implant: A small (size of a matchstick) rod, which releases a hormone is placed under the skin in your upper arm.
  • Intrauterine device (IUD): An IUD is a small, flexible, T-shaped device that is placed into your uterus through your cervix.
  • Sterilization: This permanent method of birth control involves sealing your fallopian tubes shut (tubal ligation).
  • Vasectomy: For those assigned male at birth, vasectomy (cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm) is a permanent option.

Short-acting options

If you choose one of these options, you’ll need to remember to take or use them either daily, weekly, monthly or every three months to be effective.

  • The pill: The pill contains hormones that prevent ovulation. The hormones can also make your periods less painful, lighter and shorter and lower your risk of developing uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancers.
  • Mini pills: Unlike regular birth control pills, mini pills have a lower dose of hormones.
  • Birth control shot: Hormones are injected into your buttocks or arm every three months.
  • Vaginal ring: You insert this small, flexible, plastic ring containing hormones into your vagina every month.
  • The patch: A small bandage that you stick on your skin every week that releases hormones into your system.

Barrier options

These options are the least effective. They’re considered “barrier” methods because they physically block sperm from entering your uterus and reaching the egg for fertilization. You must use them each time you have sex to prevent pregnancy.

  • Diaphragm: A round piece of flexible rubber with a rigid rim that you fill with spermicide and insert into your vagina against your cervix.
  • Male condom: A thin covering made of latex, plastic or animal membrane that’s rolled over an erect penis.
  • Female condom: A lubricated plastic tube that you insert into your vagina before sex. The tube covers the cervix and labia (lips on the outside of the vagina).
  • Cervical cap: A thimble-shaped plastic or rubber cup that you coat with spermicide. You inserted it into your vagina, over your cervix.
  • Sponge: A small, donut-shaped foam device that you coat with spermicide and insert into your vagina.

Natural family planning

Fertility awareness — also known as natural family planning or the rhythm method — is an option if you prefer not to use a device or take medication to prevent pregnancy. This method is less effective and requires consistency and discipline. It typically involves tracking your menstrual cycle, monitoring your temperature and watching for changes to your cervical mucus to figure out when you’re fertile. You then avoid sex on those days. Your healthcare provider can talk to you about this option in more detail.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) can help prevent an unplanned pregnancy if used correctly and quickly after unprotected sex or if you think your birth control method failed. Emergency contraception is available as a pill or an intrauterine device. Some EC is available over-the-counter but the most effective forms require an appointment or prescription.

Taking the Next Step

With so many birth control options available, it can be overwhelming. You might wonder how to find the best fit for your lifestyle. Talking to your healthcare provider about what you want out of your birth control is an important part of the process. You might have to try a few different options before settling down and finding the right one for you. And that’s OK. It’s common to use different kinds of birth control throughout your life as your priorities and needs change. Talking openly with your provider will help you get the protection you need — and you’ll feel confident that your birth control is working for you.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s birth control experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

Appointments

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s birth control experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


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New Contraception Clinics

We’re now offering convenient Contraception Clinics at many of our Ohio locations, starting July 23. Appointments are available Saturdays from 8 a.m. to Noon for patients ages 14+. If you’re age 18+, you can make an appointment by calling 216.444.6601.

Locations

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