The months spent preparing for conception combined with spending nine months pregnant takes a woman out of the birth control loop. Because you can get pregnant even before your period returns, it's a good idea to keep abreast of your birth control options. Here is an in-depth look at a few of the latest hormone-based contraceptives for women: Implanon, Lunelle and Nuvaring.

Gina Roberts-Grey LCSW


A long-term birth control option, Implanon is a reversible form of contraception that protects from pregnancy for up to three years. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States market beginning in September 2006, the device is inserted into the middle of a woman's upper arm in about one minute. Depending on the timing of implantation in a woman's cycle, Implanon can have an immediate contraceptive effect.

Implanon slowly releases the estrogen-based hormone etonogestrel, one of the many components in most oral contraceptives. Women with a history of progestogen-dependent tumors, compromised liver function or liver tumors, a history of breast cancer or who might be pregnant are not recommended to use this product. Side effects often mirror those of oral contraceptives.

Lunelle is a hormonal monthly contraceptive injection that offers similar protection as oral contraceptives. The biggest difference is that the injection is monthly, not daily. Lunelle is prescription-based and must be administered by a health care professional, normally in the arm, thigh or buttock.

Lunelle offers immediate birth control protection if the shot is received within the first five days of the menstrual cycle. Subsequent injections must be received within 28-33 days of the previous injection to maintain optimum effectiveness.

The first few injections may result in irregular or missed periods or breakthrough spotting while your body adjusts to the change; the irregularities should not alter the frequency of the shots. Some women also notice weight gain. Anyone smoking or with a family history of strokes, blood clots and heart disease should discuss potential side effects with their doctor.


Unlike Depo-Provera, which has been used in the US since 1992, most women begin ovulating 2 to 3 months after their last injection and may even resume ovulation in their next cycle.

A flexible, contraceptive ring, NuvaRing is approximately two inches in diameter and is inserted into the vagina once a month by users. Held in place by the vaginal muscles, the ring slowly releases low dose hormones for 21 days. After 21 days in place, the ring is removed and your body goes through its normal menstrual cycle.

Most women do not feel NuvaRing once it is inserted, and exact placement is not required to prevent pregnancy. The hormone release is activated by the ring coming in contact with the vagina. The vaginal walls absorb the estrogen based hormones for the duration of the 21 days that the ring is in place.

Side effects such as nausea, weight gain and mood swings are similar to those experienced with oral contraceptives ? but, because of the lower dosage amounts of the hormones in NuvaRing, some women may experience a reduction in these symptoms.

Best bet? See your doctor for help deciding which option may be right for you!

Tags: contraceptives new

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