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July 21, 2011

Your Best Birth Control

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Ortho Evra Patch
What it is: Just one more way of delivering that progestin-estrogen cocktail. This prescription adhesive strip (about two inches square) releases hormones into the skin when placed on your torso, arm, stomach, or butt. Women who hate taking pills every day tend to love the patch.
How it works: You apply a new patch every week for three weeks. You get your period during the fourth, patch-free week.
Caveats: The FDA issued a warning stating that the Ortho Evra patch delivers 60 percent more estrogen than the average Pill (increased estrogen exposure is associated with elevated blood-clot risk). While experts continue to crunch numbers to figure out where the patch falls on the safety spectrum (some studies say risks increase, some don't), you need to weigh the convenience of the delivery system with the possible downside. Other drawbacks: While there's no data showing the extra estrogen causes more water retention, some patch users say their pants do feel a tad tighter. The patch also only comes in a peachy-pink color, so it won't blend with all skin tones.
Failure rate: .3 percent with perfect use; 8 percent with typical use.
Cost: $30 to $40 per month.
How soon you can get pregnant: One to three months after stopping.

The Sponge
What it is: Made famous by Seinfeld's Elaine and discontinued in 1995, the Today sponge is back. It's really just a cleaner way to use spermicide: The comfortable foam device can be inserted hours before sex and left in for up to 30 hours afterward.
How it works: It releases spermicide when moistened with water and placed over the cervix.
Caveats: It doesn't guard against STDs, and it can irritate the vagina, making you more vulnerable to microbes. Recommended: combining the sponge with a condom.
Failure rate: 9 percent with perfect use; 16 percent with typical use. If you've had a child, 20 percent with perfect use; 32 percent with typical use.
Cost: $7.50 to $9 for a package of three.
How soon you can get pregnant: Immediately after stopping.

Female Condom
What it is: A long plastic pouch with rings at each end-an open one for his penis and a closed one designed to hold the de-vice by your cervix. How it works: To insert, squeeze the edges of one ring together and insert deeply into the vagina; let the other ring hang outside the body.
Caveats: This contraption is decidedly unsexy-even our doctors admitted that they don't know a soul who actually uses it.
Failure rate: 5 percent with perfect use; 21 percent with typical use.
Cost: About $2.50 each.
How soon you can get pregnant: Immediately after stopping.

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