You’re most likely familiar with “the pill,” but is it the right choice? Maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t. Birth control, also called contraception, comes in many forms, and there might be some that are better for your specific needs when compared to others. It is important to consult your doctor about the issue of course, but you can start to narrow down your options by starting with your own expectations and how they fit into a contraception regimen.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Any given type of birth control has its pros and cons. While you may share the opinion of other contraception users that you are not ready to conceive, your similarities could end there. Start your search with these things to think about, from Healthfinder.gov:
- Do you want to have children some day? If so, how soon?
- Do you have any health conditions?
- How often do you have sex?
- How many sex partners do you have?
- Do you also need protection against HIV and other STDs?
- How well does the birth control method work?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will you be able to use your chosen contraceptive correctly every time?
- How do different types of birth control work?
All of these considerations can greatly affect your choice of birth control or whether birth control is right for you in the first place.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
An IUD is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic that is put inside a woman’s uterus. Two kinds of IUDs exist, copper and hormonal. Copper IUDs use copper to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg and can last for up to 10 years. Hormonal IUDs release a hormone to prevent pregnancy, and they can last for up to three-five years. IUDs are very effective, without you having to remember to take a medication, and they can be removed if or when you want to become pregnant.
Hormones are used to prevent a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg each month. Different hormonal methods may work better than others, and different levels of effort are required. The pill has to be taken everyday, but implants and hormonal IUDs can last for years. Consult with your doctor about the following methods, if you are interested in hormonal contraception:
- Hormonal IUD
- Implant (a small rod put under the skin)
- Vaginal ring
- Birth control pills
A barrier stops the sperm and egg from touching each other. These are intended for use during sexual intercourse, rather than in a regimen like the previously mentioned methods. You are probably familiar with at least some of these barriers:
- Male condoms
- Female condoms, which are placed on the outside and inside of the vagina
- Birth control diaphragm or cervical cap
- Birth control sponge
As an extra layer of safety, male condoms are also very effective at preventing HIV and reducing the risk of other STDs when used correctly.
Natural Family Planning
This medication and hormone-free process finds days that women are ovulating, or more likely to get pregnant. On these days, you can abstain from sex, or use another method of birth control, like a condom. Keep in mind that natural family planning is only an option for women who have regular periods, and it is not as effective at preventing pregnancy as IUDs or hormonal methods.
Sterilization is only an option if you are not looking to have any children in the future. It is a permanent method of birth control that can be used for a man or woman to block the tubes that carry sperm or eggs, respectively.
What To Do Next
Now that you’ve reviewed the types of birth control that are available to you, you might be interested in pursuing one specifically, or you might still have questions. The best thing to do is to consult with your doctor, using your knowledge of your wants and needs, along with your awareness of potential options. Your doctor may have concerns about some methods due to your overall health, your desire to have children or potential side effects, but he or she will ultimately be able to find the right path for you. After talking with your doctor, it might be a good idea to discuss your options with your sex partner as well, to see what best fits your lifestyle.