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What is family planning and contraception

Birth control, also known as contraception, refers to medication or equipment used in an effort to prevent pregnancy. Our family planning clinic is dedicated to finding the contraceptive that fits your lifestyle. 

Our approach

At Northwell Health, we understand that you have a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing a contraceptive that works for you. Our physicians will help you make this decision by assessing your health, habits and priorities for the future. We use that information to make the best recommendation for your treatment. Contraception, also known as birth control, refers to any activity, medication or equipment used to prevent pregnancy. There are many types of birth control available for women who do not wish to become pregnant.

Why it's done

Typically, contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy. However, oral contraceptives have added benefits, including:

  • Regulation of menstrual periods
  • Decreased uncomfortable symptoms associated with your period
  • Improvement of acne

Reduction of symptoms associated with endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Treatment types

There are several birth control methods available through a recommendation and prescription from your physician, including:

  • Oral contraceptives — Oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills, are medications that prevent ovulation by managing pituitary hormone secretion. This daily medication contains estrogen and progestin.
  • Mini-pill — Unlike normal birth control pills, the mini-pill only contains progestin. This daily medication thickens cervical mucus, which inhibits sperm from reaching the egg. Other benefits include decreased flow of menstrual bleeding and protection from pelvic inflammation disease, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. Your doctor may prescribe the mini-pill if you are concerned with combination birth control pills, have certain health issues, or if you are breastfeeding.
  • Implanon — An implanon is a thin, small plastic rod, which is inserted under the skin to prevent pregnancy. Over a three-year period, the rod releases etonogestrel into the body. Etonogestrel works to prevent ovulation during your period. In addition, it makes vaginal fluid thicker in an effort to stop sperm from reaching an egg, and alters the lining of the uterus to prevent attachment of an egg. This device must be inserted through a minor surgical procedure.
  • Intrauterine device (IUD) — An IUD is a small, t-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus through the cervix by your physician. An IUD prevents an egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus and from being fertilized in the fallopian tubes. IUDs can be copper, or contain hormones. IUDs containing hormones should be replaced every year and copper IUDs can last up to 10 years.
  • Nonsurgical sterilization — A nonsurgical sterilization involves a thin tube, which is inserted through the vagina, to the uterus and into each fallopian tube. Material in the device causes your body to develop scar tissue, sealing off the tubes permanently.
  • Depo-Provera — Depo-Provera is a contraceptive injection that contains progestin. The shot is administered every three months. Depo-Provera prevents ovulation, in addition to thickening cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching an egg.
  • Patch — The birth control patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic worn on the body that releases estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream.
  • Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring — The contraceptive ring is a small, flexible ring. This ring, which is inserted through the vagina, gives off progestin and estrogen. It also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from getting to an egg. It stays in place for three weeks.
  • Cervical cap and diaphragm — Cervical caps and diaphragms are rubber cups shaped like domes with flexible rims. They are inserted through the vagina to shield the cervix. Cervical caps are smaller than diaphragms and can be left in for a longer period of time.

Surgical techniques that prevent pregnancy include:

  • Hysterectomy — A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. This form of birth control is irreversible.
  • Tubal ligation — Tubal ligation is surgical procedure that cuts, seals, or bands the fallopian tubes, which prevents an egg from being delivered to the uterus. Although tubal ligations can be reversed, the reversal operation is not always successful

When deciding what type of contraceptive to use, it is necessary to have an open, honest conversation with your doctor. Your physician will most likely do a Pap test, an examination of cells collected from your cervix or vagina, in addition to uncovering the risks associated with each treatment based on your lifestyle. Northwell Health professionals are proactive about finding the contraceptive treatment that benefits you the most.


Risks and side effects vary depending on the birth control method you choose.

Oral contraceptives

  • Blood clots
  • Fluctuation in cholesterol levels
  • Migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Use of tobacco increases the risk of serious side effects like heart attack, blood clots and stroke. These risks are increased if you’re over the age of 35.


  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Weight gain or loss

In addition, the failure rate of the mini-pill is thought to be higher than that of other birth control methods.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings

Intrauterine device (IUD)

  • Risk of getting stuck or puncturing the uterus
  • Menstrual issues
  • The possibility it could get pushed out of the vagina in the first year
  • Hormonal IUDs can cause side effects similar to oral contraceptives, such as breast tenderness,headaches and acne


  • Headaches
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Change in appetite
  • Unwanted facial and body hair


  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Cramps during period

Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring

  • Blood clots
  • Headache
  • Mood changes
  • Issues with the ring slipping out or causing discomfort
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Breast pain
  • Lack of sexual drive
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne

Cervical cap and diaphragm

  • Irritation
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Toxic shock syndrome To avoid, change diaphragm daily and do not wear cervical cap during your period
  • Infection


  • Ureter damage
  • Bladder or bowel damage
  • Risk of heavy bleeding
  • Infection
  • Early menopause

Tubal ligation

  • Damage to bowel or bladder
  • Infection
  • Prolonged pelvic or abdominal pain

What to expect after treatment

After any type of contraceptive treatment, it’s important to keep an open channel of communication with your doctor about side effects, or concerns.

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