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Topic: What To Know About Switching Birth Control

Finding the right birth control for you can be tricky — from pills to IUDs to implants, there are so many different options to choose from. Plus, once you’ve committed to a certain method of birth control, switching often seems like a hassle. Gynecologist Dr. Mary Jane Minkin said she sees that point of view often in her patients. “I think a lot of people have in their mindset, ‘I’m going to pick a birth control method and I should stay with this for the rest of my life,'” she explained.

Still, the birth control that worked best for you as a college freshman might not be the best option for you at age 35. Everything from lifestyle changes to new medical conditions could be reasons to reexamine your method of birth control, Dr. Minkin said. Before you make the switch to a new kind of birth control, talk to your healthcare provider about these four key factors if you are considering hormonal birth control.

Dr. Minkin said finding birth control that works for your lifestyle is incredibly important but something that many of her patients often overlook. A pill that you have to take at the same time each day might work well for a high school student with a fixed schedule, for example, but wouldn’t suit a new mom who’s getting up at all hours with the baby. Dr. Minkin even recalled an airline pilot who needed something easier to remember than a pill, since she was crossing so many time zones every day.

For patients with variable schedules, Dr. Minkin particularly likes ANNOVERA® (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system), a vaginal ring that lasts for a full year and you put in and remove yourself each cycle. “You leave it in for three weeks. You take it out for a week. You put it back in,” Dr. Minkin said. “It’s one less thing to think about [everyday].” Because you use ANNOVERA® for 21 days, then remove it for seven, you don’t have to remember it every day, unlike other medications.

Dr. Minkin said another advantage of ANNOVERA® is that it doesn’t require monthly trips to the pharmacy. Unfortunately, many people can only get one to three months of contraceptives at one time due to insurance restrictions, Dr. Minkin explained. Unlike a medication you have to refill monthly, ANNOVERA® lasts for 13 cycles — you simply wash the vaginal ring before and after use, then store it to use again the following month.

Side effects like sore breasts, fluid retention, weight gain, and irritability often lead patients to switch birth control, Dr. Minkin said. “There may be something new that would work better for you, [or] you may have developed some medical issues that your current contraceptive might not work well with,” she explained.

Make sure you tell your healthcare provider about any side effects you’re experiencing as well as ask about potential side effects from any other birth control methods you’re considering. In addition, you should make sure your choice of hormonal birth control is not contraindicated for your medical history. For Important Safety Information, including Boxed Warning, for ANNOVERA®, keep reading.

Topic Discussed: What To Know About Switching Birth Control

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