Comparing Contraceptives: Are Implants Better Than the Pill?

Women make choices about birth control based on a variety of factors. One of the top considerations is their effectiveness. When it comes to preventing pregnancy, birth control pills and implants are both very effective.

But which is better?

Here at Virtuosa GYN in San Antonio, Texas, our care providers know that the birth control method that’s best for one woman may not be right for the next. That’s why we take many factors into account when advising you on birth control. We work with you to choose a contraceptive strategy that best suits your health, lifestyle, and family planning goals.

Here are a few of the facts we discuss with you when deciding whether implants, the pill, or some other type of birth control is best for you. 

About implants

Contraceptive implants are a type of long-acting reversible contraceptive. An implant is a small plastic rod, about the size of a match, that we place under the skin of your arm during an office visit. The rod is treated with slow-releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy.

A contraceptive implant provides long-lasting birth control until we remove it or until it reaches the end of its life, in about three years. At that point, you may choose to have another implant, switch to a different type of birth control, or stop using birth control. You may also have an implant removed at any time.

Implants have an effectiveness rate of less than 1, which is the number of pregnancies that occur in 100 women within their first year using the implants. In comparison, male and female condoms have an effectiveness rate of 18 to 21, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.

About birth control pills

Birth control pills are considered short-acting contraceptives, which means they protect you from pregnancy only as long as you take them as directed. Birth control pills contain hormones that prevent pregnancy.

Statistics show that oral contraceptives have a lower effectiveness rate than implants. The pill has an effectiveness rate of 9. Again, this number is how many pregnancies occur in 100 women within their first year of taking the pill.

But one reason that birth control pills have a lower effectiveness rate than implants is that you must take them on a daily basis. Forgetting pills can lead to pregnancy. 

Other considerations

Even though implants have a higher effectiveness rate than the pill, there are other factors to consider. For example, if you always remember to take your birth control pills, you are better protected than if you forget them.

In addition, implants and the pill have different potential side effects. Your health history helps determine which side effects may be acceptable and which may not. For example, the pill can raise blood pressure, which can be unacceptable if your blood pressure is already high.

Finally, neither implants nor the pill protects you from sexually transmitted infections (STI). If STIs are a concern, we may recommend that you use condoms in addition to oral contraceptives or implants.

Choosing the best method for you

Picking the right birth control may not be an easy decision. Let us at Virtuosa GYN help you make the wisest choice for you. Call us to schedule a contraceptive consultation with one of our experienced care providers.

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