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If you're thinking of changing your birth control, you're not alone: an Emory University survey recently found that 43 percent of new or expecting mothers confessed to being dissatisfied with the method they were using prebaby. But there are plenty of options to choose from, depending on your family-planning goals. "There are a number of factors for women to consider, including whether they're breastfeeding, how soon they plan to get pregnant again, and how often they have sex," explains John Repke, MD, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State University School of Medicine, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Here, a look at the most common methods.
The Combined Pill
* Cost $15-$35 a month
* What it is A daily prescription pill that contains estrogen and progestin. Traditionally, you take the pill for 21 days and then take a week off, but several new types of pills such as Seasonale and Lybrel are taken continuously, so you don't get a period.
* How it works It prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) and also thickens cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from joining with an egg.
* Who it's for Any mom who wants reliable, nonpermanent birth control (the effects wear off quickly). It also helps treat conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis that can cause heavy periods.
* Downside You can't use it if you're breastfeeding; some women have irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, headache, and a lower libido. If you're over 35 and have high blood pressure and/or are a smoker, most doctors don't recommend using this method due to increased risk of blood clots.
* With perfect use, this pill is 99 percent effective. That number drops to 92 percent with typical use. Best bet: use it continuously.
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