38 million American women use some form of birth control. One of the most common in this country is the birth control pill. Which is about 95% effective if you take it when you're supposed to. That's according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That group also wants you to know that there are a lot more options out there today.
The birth control pill may have been around a while, but it's changed. "First of all, there are lower doses, 20 microgram estrogen doses. This is the lowest dose on the market," says Wendy Grube, MSN/CRNP of Lehigh Valley Hospital.
There's even a new pill that claims it can help with PMS. "The new pill, Yasmin, actually was developed to help relieve symptoms of PMS. It also happens that this pill decreases the risk of weight gain," says Grube.
If you've never considered something other than the pill, it might be time to. The FDA just approved two new devices that work just like it, a patch called Ortho-Evra. "One patch is put on every week for three consecutive weeks and then the fourth week the woman refrains from using the patch and then has a normal withdrawal menstrual period," Grube says.
Another device is called Nuva-Ring. "It's inserted into the vagina and it's left in place for three weeks and then it's removed for one week to have a menstrual period," said Grube.
Mirena, an IDU, or Intrauterine Device, is another new option. It releases the hormone progesterone, which may help decrease cramps, bleeding, and weight gain. "It actually can be used very successfully in women who are peri-menopausal who still need a good method of birth control, but may have very heavy periods," says Grube.
Some other choices are a new once a month injectable contraception film for women, and emergency contraception, the bottom line is that everyone has choices.
All these options offer almost complete protection against pregnancy, but none of them protect against Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The best defense against STD's is still a condom or spermicide, both of which are available over the counter.