Women have a wide array of effective birth control from which to choose. At For Women By Women in Los Gatos, California, Dr. Rosanne Mayhew brings 30 years of experience to counseling and prescribing birth control for women throughout the Silicon Valley and greater San Francisco Bay area.

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What kind of contraception should I use?

Dr. Mayhew has helped numerous women make that decision. She discusses the wide array of options, providing advice based on each woman’s lifestyle, personal preference, age, health, desire to get pregnant in the near or distant future, and the likelihood that she will remember to take a pill at the same time every day. Among the methods she often recommends are the IUD and implants, both of which are known for safety and effectiveness.

How does the IUD work?

Dr. Mayhew is an advocate of the IUD (intrauterine device), which is a tiny T-shaped device that is implanted inside the uterus during a simple office procedure. IUDs provide birth control by preventing eggs from adhering to the walls of the uterus and have fewer side effects than the birth control pill. Once an IUD is implanted, it can remain in place from 3 to 10 years, depending on the type used. There are two types of IUDs:

  • Hormone IUDs release small amounts of progestin directly into the uterus, the same hormone used in many birth control pills. Popular brands are Mirena® and Skyla ™. Skyla is smaller and therefore often recommended for younger women. IUDs prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs and also thicken mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the ovaries.
  • Copper IUDs are a good option for women who don’t want to take any hormones. A copper IUD is made of plastic that’s wrapped in a thin copper wire. The copper’s ions prohibit sperm movement and thus, pregnancy. A popular brand of copper IUD is ParaGard.

How do implants work?

An implant is a plastic, match-size stick device that’s implanted under the skin on the inside of the upper arm by Dr. Mayhew in a simple office visit. The device continuously releases progestin, which prevents sperm from reaching an egg. Implants can last for up to 5 years and eliminate the risk of a woman forgetting to take pills.

What should I know about birth control pills?

The pill remains the most popular form of birth control. Many women like that it doesn’t require an interruption to foreplay and also reduces menstrual bleeding and cramping, and may prevent acne, anemia, bone thinning, and certain cancers. Among the drawbacks, some women experience breast tenderness, nausea, and/or spotting, and they must remember to take the pill on a daily basis.