Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Planning a Family

Family Planning

New Birth Control Alternatives

Ironically, when it comes to contraception, couples have more options today, and thus greater control over at least one component of family planning. In about the last year, the pharmaceutical industry has spawned a wave of new alternatives for women, which include:

  • A new type of intrauterine device (IUD), called Mirena, which can be left in place for up to five years. It contains the hormone levonorgestrel, which is gradually released over the life of the T-shaped device.
  • Lunelle is a once-a-month injection of synthetic estrogen/progesterone hormones. Despite the convenience of not taking a birth control pill each day, Lunelle does require a visit to the doctor every 28 to 30 days for a new shot.
  • The first contraceptive patch, called Ortho Evra, delivers a steady stream of estrogen and progestin through the skin, and is replaced every seven days. Worn under the clothes on the buttocks, upper torso, or abdomen, it will become available sometime in 2002.
  • A vaginal ring, called NuvaRing, is a small, flexible ring that will soon come on the market, and provides a low dose of estrogen and progestin over a 21-day period.

Does Size and Spacing Matter?

The trend toward women starting families later (or not at all) -- along with the availability of more birth control methods -- does not seem to have made much of a statistical impact on family size in the U.S. According to a recent CDC report, analyzing data from 2000, the average number of offspring born to women over a lifetime was 2.1, compared with fewer than two children per woman during most of the 1970s and 1980s.

With the help of contraceptives, some parents continue to try to space out their children in what they consider the most appropriate intervals, although Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate with their family planning. Many child psychologists advise that three to three-and-a-half years between children is optimal.

"While a 2-year-old child is very insecure, and thus a new baby in the family is more likely to cause competition and sibling problems, a child by age 3 is better able to share a parent successfully," says Peterson, author of Making Healthy Families and An Easier Childbirth.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy