Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Provider photo for Michael Lum

Michael Lum, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Welcome to My Doctor Online, a web site that my colleagues and I developed to make it easier for you to take care of your healthcare needs. On this site you will find answers to many of your questions about my clinical practice. Also included are several online features that will allow you to e-mail me, check your laboratory results and refill prescriptions. I hope you find its content informative and useful.

My Offices

San Jose Medical Center
Appt/Advice: 1-408-362-4740

See all office information »

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Birth control (contraception) helps prevent pregnancy. To choose the method that’s best for you, it can be helpful to ask yourself:

  • How long you’d like to prevent pregnancy.
  • Whether you need protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • How well each method works (effectiveness).
  • What level of risk of pregnancy you can accept.
  • How often you’re willing to think about birth control.
  • Whether you need a confidential (private) method. 

You’ll also want to consider:

  • Cost.
  • How often you’d need to come to your doctor’s office or pharmacy.

We can talk about birth control options to help you find a method.

If you have an ongoing medical problem, or are over age 35 or smoke, it’s important to talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about birth control methods that will be safest for you. 



It’s important to know how well a birth control method prevents pregnancy. Effectiveness varies for each method. For example, the birth control pill is about 90 percent effective, while the implant is more than 99 percent effective.

These are the main types of birth control.

Long-term methods work for years. They include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the implant. 

Hormonal methods include the birth control pill, patch, ring, and shot (Depo-Provera). 

Barrier methods include condoms, the diaphragm, and spermicides. 

Emergency methods include emergency contraceptive pills, also called the “morning-after pill.”

Permanent methods (sterilization) include tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men.

Natural family planning (NFP) can help you plan or prevent pregnancy without using hormones, devices, or a surgical procedure. It’s less effective in preventing pregnancy than other methods. 

Abstinence means that you and your partner choose to have no sexual intercourse at all.

Protect Yourself from a Surprise Pregnancy

Being able to plan your pregnancy helps you make sure your baby gets the best care before and after birth.

Did you know that about half of US pregnancies are unplanned? Because of this, we recommend all women of childbearing age (15 to 49 years, approximately) take 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. When women take folic acid before conceiving a baby, the risk of birth defects is reduced by 85 percent. Taking a daily multivitamin is the easiest way to get folic acid. 

If you think you may be pregnant, contact us right away. You need to take steps to care for your and your baby’s health.

Additional References:

Protect Yourself from STDs

As soon as you start being sexually active, you can be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This includes oral, vaginal, or anal sex. 

STDs are caused by bacteria or viruses that are passed between partners. Some STDs are easily treated with no long-term effects. Others can be carried for life, causing pain, infertility or serious, life-threatening diseases.

You can lower your risk for STDs by:

  • Limiting your number of partners.
  • Using condoms correctly and consistently.

Help for partner abuse

Being pressured or forced to have sex is common, unfortunately. It can happen even in long-term relationships. But it’s never OK.

It's also never OK for someone to:

  • Refuse to wear a condom to protect you against pregnancy or STDs.
  • Interfere with your birth control.

If this is happening to you, get help by talking to us. Or you can call the:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673.
  • National Teen Dating Violence, 1-866-331-9474, if you’re a teen. 
Additional References:

Long-Term Methods

Long-term birth control methods include:

  • Implant (Nexplanon)
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

These methods:

  • Prevent pregnancy more than 99 percent of the time. They’re highly effective.
  • Are convenient. Once inserted, the method works on its own for years. You can “get it and forget it.”

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods include the birth control:

  • Pill
  • Patch
  • Ring
  • Shot (Depo-Provera)

These methods:

  • Prevent pregnancy more than 92 percent of the time. They’re very effective.
  • Need to be used regularly. Pills are taken daily. The patch is used weekly. The ring is used monthly. The shot is needed every 3 months.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods include:

  • Condom 
  • Female condom
  • Diaphragm
  • Spermicides and spermicide sponges

These methods are:

  • Less effective at preventing pregnancy than long-term and hormonal methods.
  • Convenient. You don’t need to remember to take a pill every day or change a patch every week.
  • Protective against STDs, including HIV/AIDs, if you use condoms or female condoms.

Emergency Birth Control

Taking emergency birth control pills or having an IUD inserted can prevent pregnancy. You may want to use emergency birth control if you:

  • Had sex without using birth control, or your method didn’t work properly (for example, the condom broke).
  • Missed several birth control pills or were late for your contraceptive shot.
  • Were forced to have sex.
  • Had a partner who wouldn’t use or let you use birth control.

The pill method is also called emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), Plan B, or the “morning-after pill.” 

You can use emergency birth control up to 5 days after unprotected sex, not just the morning after. The sooner you take ECPs, the better they work. 

Talk with your doctor about whether ECPs called Ella (brand name) may be more effective for you, if either of these is true:

  • Your BMI is above 25.
  • Unprotected sex happened more than 3 days ago.

Also, some types of IUDs can be used as emergency birth control. You need to have the IUD placed into your uterus by your clinician within 5 days of having unprotected sex. 

The IUD can stay in place as your regular birth control method. To use this method, see your doctor to get your IUD as soon as possible after unprotected sex. 

Permanent Methods

If you’re certain that you don’t want to have more (or any) children, permanent birth control may be an option. Surgical sterilization for women is safe and effective.

It’s a big decision to make. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, a counselor, or your clinician before you decide.

Permanent methods close or remove the fallopian tubes so sperm and eggs can’t meet. Today’s newer, safer methods include:

  • Hysteroscopic sterilization (Essure)
  • Laparoscopic tubal ligation (closure) or removal (salpingectomy)
  • Postpartum tubal ligation or removal 

Your male partner may want to consider vasectomy, which is permanent birth control for men. It’s a simple and safe procedure that's done in a doctor’s office.

Women with Medical Conditions

Careful planning before pregnancy is especially important for women with health problems. Some conditions can complicate pregnancy. Specific medications can harm unborn babies. 

Talk with your clinician about your birth control options if you have: 

  • Migraines
  • High blood pressure 
  • Diabetes
  • Seizures
  • A history of blood clots
  • Kidney or liver disease

Women who are older than age 35 or smoke should also talk with their clinician about the safest birth control options for them.

Getting Your Care at Kaiser Permanente

If you aren’t sure which type of birth control is best for you, you and I can discuss your options and make a birth control plan.

If you’d like to start using a new method of birth control, your next steps depend on which type of birth control you’re interested in using.

  • Condoms, female condoms, and spermicides are available in our pharmacies and at your neighborhood pharmacy. They are inexpensive, and you don’t need a prescription to buy them.
  • If you’d like to start using a diaphragm, please make an appointment to see me. During a visit, we can talk more about the diaphragm, how to use it correctly, and I can recommend a size of diaphragm that I think would be best for you.
  • Let me know if you’re interested in starting hormonal methods (like the birth control pill, patch, ring, or Depo-Provera) or long-term methods (like a birth control implant or an IUD).  Some of these should be discussed during a visit with me while others can be discussed by e-mail or by phone.
  • Please talk to me if you’re considering permanent sterilization. If you’re interested, we can talk about which of the sterilization procedures might be a good choice for you.
  • If you need emergency birth control:
    • Members of any age can call to get a prescription. Then you can pick up your pills at our pharmacy.
    • If you are over 18, you can also buy emergency birth control from our pharmacies without a prescription.

Contacting Me

From my home page, you can take advantage of a variety of convenient online services offered by Kaiser Permanente. You have the ability to e-mail me for non-urgent questions and make appointments using our online services. In addition, you can view and refill your prescriptions, view test results and summaries of prior visits, check the status of your preventive screenings, and find health information and interactive health tools.

Related Health Tools:

Interactive Programs
Prepare for Your Procedure

See more Health Tools »

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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