How it works: Gradually delivers contraceptive progestin and estrogen through the skin; each patch must be replaced every seven days for three weeks (nothing is worn in the fourth week).
Advantages: Once-a-week application.
Risks: Similar to the combined pill. A recent Associated Press investigation found that wearing the patch may carry a higher risk of blood clots and stroke than using the pill, but more research is needed.
Postpartum issues: Same as combined hormonal methods.
Vaginal Ring (i.e., NuvaRing)
How it works: A plastic ring, inserted near the cervix, gradually releases progestin and estrogen in lower doses than the pill or patch. Stays in place for 21 days, then is removed for 7 days.
Advantages: You only have to think about it once a month.
Risks: Similar to combination pills; may cause discomfort.
Postpartum issues: Wait until the six-week checkup.
Injection (i.e., Depo-Provera)
How it works: Administered every three months.
Advantages: Long intervals between treatments.
Risks: Decrease in bone density, allergic reactions, possible increase in cholesterol. Although women sometimes miss their scheduled visits for follow-up injections, the failure rate for typical use in the first year is still a low 3 percent.
Postpartum issues: Wait until your six-week checkup. Depo-Provera is safe for breastfeeding moms.