If you are considering choosing a birth control method, there is a wide array of options for you. From pills, patches, rings, injections, and more, the decision lies with your lifestyle and your body’s response.
Before coming to a conclusion, talk with your OB/GYN about your contraception options and needs. Your doctor will then take a full family and medical history, do a physical exam, assess your cycles and risk of sexually transmitted diseases and guide you to the right contraception option. When considering birth control methods, here are some factors to consider.
How the Contraceptive Prevents Pregnancy
The reason most women choose a contraception method is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. However, every birth control has a failure rate measure, as shown by this table from the World Health Organization. Sterilization (vasectomy for men and tubal ligations for women) and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including hormonal implants and IUDs, for instance, are considered the most effective at controlling pregnancies, with less than a 1 percent failure rate.
Note that hormonal methods may be highly effective, but you must take your medication as advised and get shots regularly. Otherwise, the failure to observe these guidelines raises the failure rate to 4-7 percent. Withdrawal, whereby the man removes his penis from the vagina before ejaculation, is also considered a birth control method that prevents the semen from reaching the egg. However, withdrawal has a 20 percent failure rate.
How Often the Contraceptive Needs to be Used
Sterilization, implants, and IUDs are long-term, meaning that you are less likely to go wrong with them. With an IUD, for instance, it could mean practicing safe sex for three to seven years. Hormonal IUDs last about ten years, while implants and the copper IUDs last about three years. On the other hand, sterilization lasts a lifetime, meaning you do not have to worry about getting pregnant.
Birth control pills must be taken daily, the vaginal ring must be cleaned once a month, injection shots must be received every three months, and the patch has to be changed each week. If you do not want to choose the long-term birth control methods, be sure you can keep up with the short-term options.
When you want to Get Pregnant
Are you thinking of having a baby soon? If so, it is advisable to choose the short-term methods. Note, implants and the IUD are the most effective methods, but will require the attention of a doctor for insertion and removal. Of course, sterilization is not an option if you wish to get pregnant in the future. However, some permanent methods, such as tubal litigation and vasectomy, can be reversed.
It is essential to understand that some of the reversal procedures can fail, requiring IVF, which can be costly. An injection may also be a good idea but is inadvisable for women planning to get pregnant soon, as injection medication may take up to a year to clear the system. Other methods, such as rings, birth control pills, and patches, can take months to stabilize your system for you to ovulate.
Protection Against STIs
The only form of contraception that protects you from sexually transmitted infections is female and male condoms. However, they must be used correctly for them to be effective. Condoms are usually considered to be one of the most convenient forms of birth control, and can also offer protection against HIV/AIDS. If you are allergic to latex, use polyurethane condoms instead.
Convenience and Affordability
Always choose a birth control method that fits into your lifestyle. For some, convenience could mean using contraception that does not interfere with their sexual experience or one that is easy to use. To others, convenience could mean not having to get prescriptions. Choose a method you are willing to abide by the medication schedule.
The other consideration would cost. How affordable is the birth control, and is it covered by your insurance? Understand that insurers are guided by many factors, such as the age of the woman, the type of birth control, and the brand. Check your individual plan to find out what your insurance covers. If your option is not covered, base your selection on your budget.
How Easy is it to Use?
Diaphragm and hormonal birth control methods require a doctor’s prescription. You’ll also need to visit your health provider for an implant, injection, sterilization, or an IUD. The benefit of these methods is that you won’t have to worry about your schedule for a long time.
Condoms, on the other hand, do not require any prescription, you just have to visit the drug store. However, you have to remember to wear it before sex, which can be hard to keep up with, especially in the heat of the moment. Other natural methods, such as withdrawal, will need a high level of accuracy to ensure that the sperm does not meet the egg. Natural family planning is also great but will mean tracking your cycle carefully to use protection during that time of the month.
The best birth control method for you is one that is safe and comfortable. However, be careful to discuss with your doctor about your options. Understand that women with certain underlying health conditions must not use some birth controls. For instance, if you have a personal or family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, deep vein thrombosis, breast cancer, blood clots, you are above 35 and smoke, your doctor will discourage some hormonal contraceptive options. The good news is that there will always be a perfect choice for you.