"There have been no changes in the pill until the last few years," said Dr. Ted Peskin, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UMass Medical School in Worcester.
A three-month pill, such as Seasonale, can be useful for woman with heavy or painful periods, Peskin
"Many doctors use the same method by continuing packs of regular birth control pills," Peskin
said."The advantage is eliminating most menstrual periods."
Not having a monthly period is medically safe, but many women prefer them.
"Women shouldn't feel pressured.Many feel psychologically better because they get (their period) every month," Peskin
said."When women see bleeding they know they aren't pregnant and feel normal."
The three-month pill can cause spotting in-between periods.
Birth control shots have the advantage of not having to remember to take a daily pill, Peskin
said, but the injection does require a doctor's visit.
"It's excellent for people who want to not have to remember," Peskin
said side effects of the three-month shot could include a slight weight gain of 5 to 10 pounds and irregular bleeding for the first three to six months, followed by no periods after a year.
Because the shot is only progesterone and does not contain estrogen, it's well suited for women who are breast feeding, Peskin
said a pill form of the three-month shot is also available to patients.
Power and Peskin
said because the patch method hit the market before the ring, it's more popular with women.
"The patch is very popular among my patients," Peskin
said an intrauterine device, called IUD, is also a safe, effective form of birth control.
"It got a bad (reputation) in the U.S. because of the previous infection rate, but that's based on old information," Peskin
Because many of the latest hormonal birth control products are new, many are not yet covered by health plans.
"It usually takes one or two years for health plans to evaluate new items," Peskin
"Women who use the regular birth control pill can reduce their lifetime risk of cancer in the uterus and reduce ovarian cancer by 50 percent," Peskin
said."There is no evidence it increases breast cancer."
Another myth associated with birth control is that women will not be able to get pregnant after they discontinue use.
"There is no increased infertility with birth control," said Peskin
, adding there may be slight infertility during the first one to three months after stopping the pill.
A hormonal shot, however, can cause infertility up to two years, Peskin
As delivery methods of birth control continue to change, doctors say women have a better chance of increasing its effectiveness.
"All these changes are a way to improve compliance," said Peskin
, adding 50 percent of unintended pregnancies are caused by incorrect use of birth control.