Choosing the right birth control method can be difficult; there are a variety of options available and nearly
every type can affect different women in different ways. Ultimately the best method for each individual woman will be the one that doesn’t cause side effects that disrupt and impede normal daily activities and one she will use consistently.
Diana Atashroo, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology at NorthShore, discusses how birth control works, as well as birth control options
and possible benefits beyond pregnancy prevention:
Hormonal birth control, often referred to as “the pill,” contains estrogen and progestin. Birth control reduces the risk of pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, or the time during a woman’s cycle when a mature egg leaves the ovaries. The pill also causes a
thickening of the mucus of the cervix making it impenetrable to sperm and keeping the lining of the uterus thin.
Birth control options include:
Implanted devices (with and without hormones):
The most common use of oral contraception is the prevention of pregnancy. While the daily contraception pill is the most popularly used and prescribed medication, the most effective method is the implanted devices. With appropriate use of these methods of contraception
they are 99% effective.
However, birth control is not prescribed or taken exclusively for the prevention of pregnancy. There are several benefits to hormonal birth control, and many women choose to take it for these reasons:
PMS symptom relief. Hormones have been shown to provide significant relief of many of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, including menstrual cramps, headaches, depression, heavy or irregular periods and hormonal acne.
Iron deficiency anemia. Women with heavy periods often experience iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss. Hormonal birth control can make heavy periods lighter.
Reduces risk for some cancers. Birth control has been shown to potentially reduce a woman’s risk of ovarian, endometrial and colon cancers.
Bone thinning. Some studies have shown that the use of birth control helps protect against bone thinning, which begins in most women after age 30.
Increasingly more women are waiting until later in life to start families. And while there are many benefits to postponing
motherhood, there are some health risks that increase as a woman ages.
What are the risks? Starting in their mid-30s, women face an increased risk for miscarriage, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placental abruption, preeclampsia, early labor and are more likely to require a cesarean.
It’s important to remember that these are risks all women, no matter their age, face during pregnancy. While every woman’s pregnancy is unique, older moms-to-be often face some unique challenges. Knowing what challenges might arise and how to reduce your
risk increases the likelihood you’ll enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Scott MacGregor, DO, Maternal-Fetal Medicine at NorthShore, shares his tips for staying healthy throughout your pregnancy:
Are you waiting until later to start your family? When did you have your first child?
Mother's Day might have passed but every day can be a celebration of moms, moms-to-be and the many adventures of motherhood. For expectant mothers, the experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem have created a checklist for the stages of pregnancy, week
by week. Every mommy-to-be can learn how to take care of herself during each and every stage of pregnancy and track her baby’s developments along the way.
Click on the infographic
to learn more about the stages of pregnancy and how a mommy-to-be can prepare for baby.
Conception difficulties and infertility aren't as uncommon as one might think; the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention estimate that approximately 10 percent of women between the ages of 15-44 in the United States have difficulty getting or staying pregnant.
There are many fertility treatment options available, including conventional biomedical treatments, such as
fertility medications, artificial insemination and
in vitro fertilization, and traditional methods, like Chinese herbal medicine and
acupuncture. Many couples have found great results with a combination of treatments.
Ultimately, the right choice is the one that works. While there is no preferred method for everyone, in many cases, the age-old treatment of acupuncture has been shown to help enhance fertility and increase a woman’s chances of conceiving.
Nicole Hohmann, Acupuncturist with NorthShore's Integrative Medicine Program, shares some of the health benefits of fertility
Has acupuncture worked for you or someone you know?