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Birth Control Health Center

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Long-Term Birth Control Without Surgery

The Shot (Depo-Provera) continued...

The shot can cause bone thinning, which stops after the shot wears off. For this reason, women at risk for osteoporosis should use a different form of birth control. If you want to use the shot for more than 2 years, you should talk to your doctor about the risks and the benefits of continuing it. Women with breast cancer and those who take some medications for Cushing’s syndrome (disease from being exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol) also should not get it.

Some women might not want the shot because it requires going to a doctor’s office every 3 months. In some parts of the country, women can get a prescription for an injection they give themselves. If giving yourself a shot makes you squirm, find out if there are convenient places to get it -- such as a neighborhood health center -- before you decide.

If you want to get pregnant within the next year, you might consider other methods of birth control. It can take 10 months or more to become fertile again after you stop the shot.

Combination Birth Control

Similar to most birth control pills, the patch and the ring prevent pregnancy with the hormones progestin and estrogen. Also like many pills, you use the patch and the ring for 3 weeks, then stop for one. During this “week off,” you get your period. Some women, who want to stop their periods completely, don’t take a week off.

Women who take the fourth week off often get lighter periods with less symptoms.

You have to remember to change your patch or ring on time. Nine out of 100 women who don’t use them as directed get pregnant.

Like the pill, both the patch and the ring can raise your risk for blood clots. They’re not recommended for women with risk factors for stroke, blood clots, or cardiovascular disease, such as women over 35 who smoke.

The patch is a thin, beige, plastic sticker that you wear on your skin at all times for a week. You stick it on the outside of your upper arm, your back, your behind, or your stomach. You replace the patch every week for 3 weeks, then typically take a week off.

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