Types of Birth Control Available at GA Health Clinics

By Maria Scinto

  • Overview

    Family planning clinics throughout the state of Georgia offer a variety of birth control options. If you go to a private clinic or health care facility, you may need to undergo a physical exam before you receive any form of birth control, but public clinics such as Planned Parenthood or university health clinics will allow you the option of obtaining hormonal contraceptive methods including birth control pills, the Ortho-Evra Patch, the Nuvaring, and Depo-Provera injections without your having to undergo a pelvic exam first. This holds true as long as you do not have risk factors for taking these types of hormones or show any symptoms of breast cancer or cancer of your reproductive system. If you do exhibit risk factors, you will need further screening before the most effective method of birth control for you can be determined.
  • Condoms

    Condoms are readily available at all health clinics throughout the state of Georgia. Condoms may be provided free of charge in some cases, and they are given to both women and men. If needed, you can get instruction in the proper use of condoms. Improper use is attributed to many cases of unwanted pregnancies. If you're not completely sure how to use them, ask! It's a question they probably receive many times per day.
  • Birth Control Pills

    Birth control pills are one of the most popular and effective (99%) birth control methods available in Georgia. These are quite safe now, as they are much lower in both estrogen and progesterone pills prescribed in the 60s and 70s. Side effects are minimal, and there is hardly any risk of stroke or other adverse health effects in nonsmoking women under the age of 45. You can get pills prescribed in either the 21-day or 28-day packs. With the 21-day packs, you will have to go for a week without taking any pills before you begin a new cycle. The 28-day packs give you 7 placebos so you do not have to count days.

  • Depo-Provera Injections

    Depo-Provera (Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate) is a type of synthetic progesterone, similar to the hormones in birth control pills. It is just as effective as the pill, but it's more convenient since it is given by injection (which will be in your arm or your buttocks) just once every three months.
  • The NuvaRing

    The NuvaRing, or vaginal ring, is a fairly new method of birth control now available in Georgia clinics. It also releases synthetic hormones in the body, and it is equally effective at preventing pregnancy as the pill or the injection. It is a small flexible ring inserted into the vagina for 3 weeks at a time. Users must remember to remove it for one week after the 3-week cycle is up. A new ring is inserted when the cycle begins again. The NuvaRing is a good choice if you do wish to become pregnant at some point, as your fertility will return to normal levels shortly after discontinuing its use.
  • Ortho-Evra Patch

    The Ortho-Evra contraceptive patch is yet another newer method available in Georgia clinics for delivering pregnancy-preventing hormones into the body, and it can also be obtained without a pelvic exam. Like the ring or the 21-day pill packs, it also operates on a 3 week on/1 week off cycle - you'll need to place one patch on your arm on the same day of the week for 3 consecutive weeks, then spend one week "patch free" before beginning again.
  • IUDs and Diaphragms

    Clinics in Georgia will need to administer a physical exam before they can prescribe either an IUD or a diaphragm. With the diaphragm it is necessary for your cervix to be measured in order for it to fit correctly, as this small rubber cap is meant to cover our cervix and hold a spermicidal cream or jelly in place. It isn't quite as effective as hormonal contraceptives (only 84%-94% effective), but it can be used on an "as-needed" basis. IUDs are only available at certain Georgia clinics, as they are not advisable for all patients. You may not be able to obtain an IUD if you are considered to have a high risk factor for STDs, if you may be pregnant or wish to conceive in he near future, if you are HIV-positive or have AIDS, if you have severe anemia, if your uterus is malformed or is seated too far back or forwards in your pelvis, or if you have certain other medical conditions. If a doctor determines you are able to use an IUD, the two types available in Georgia include the Mirena, which can be used for up to 5 years, and the ParaGard copper IUD, which may be effective for as long as 12 years.
  • Emergency Contraception

    Emergency Contraception, also known as Plan B, is a type of contraceptive pill which can be taken after unprotected sex to help prevent pregnancy. It is also recommended if the condom broke or slipped, if your diaphragm moved out of place or if you forgot to take two or more birth control pills. In the state of Georgia, this medication can be obtained over-the-counter if you are 18 or older (although you will need to provide proof of age). If you are 17 or younger, you will need a prescription.
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