Birth control has come a long way in the last century. There are a wide range of contraception options that are more readily available than ever for many women these days. You can take a pill, get an implant, wear a patch, get a shot, and even choose from different brands and variations within those options.
While the growing selection of birth control methods is an innovation to be praised, it does make it a little more challenging for a woman to decide which of those methods is right for her. If you’re interested in starting birth control but uncertain about what type will work best for you and your lifestyle, start by considering these important factors below to help you make the right choice!
When used consistently and correctly, most contraceptive methods are 95% effective or higher. Some methods require more effort on your part to be effective than others. The key is to be honest with yourself about your habits and lifestyle to determine which type of birth control is going to be the most effective for you.
For example, are you the kind of person who will remember to take a pill at the same time every day? Or, will you be able to make it to your doctor’s office for a shot every three months? Birth control methods that require the least effort—IUD, birth control ring, implants—tend to be the most practically effective.
2) Side Effects
Most methods of birth control come with a list of common side effects that women can or are likely to experience. Certain hormonal birth controls, for instance, can cause undesirable effects such as weight gain, spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, and mood changes. Sometimes, these effects subside after your body gets used to the birth control, but sometimes they don’t. Ask yourself if you’re prepared to tolerate any negative side effects long-term. Some birth controls can also be unsafe to use if you have certain health conditions, so be sure to discuss options with your doctor before making your decision.
On the other hand, some birth controls can have positive effects that you may be hoping to take advantage of. Sometimes, for example, those same hormonal methods can help clear up your skin, regulate your period, and make menstruation cramping milder and flow lighter.
If a birth control method is not readily accessible to you for any reason, it is not going to be as effective as you need it to be. Consider how easy or difficult it will be for you to obtain different types of birth control, in terms of both practicality and cost.
Will your insurance cover a monthly pill prescription? Or multiple visits to your doctor’s office per year? How easily will you be able to get to your doctor, pharmacy, or a drugstore for condoms? Does your doctor offer birth control options or will you have to get it from somewhere else? These are all questions you’ll need to answer before choosing a contraceptive method.
4) STD Protection
Preventing unplanned pregnancy is not always the only goal with contraceptive use. Ask yourself if STD/STI protection is important too. The only birth control methods that help prevent STD transmission are the male and female condom. If you choose to use another method for pregnancy prevention and still want STD protection, you will have to use a condom in addition to your other birth control.
Your need and desire for STD protection will likely depend on your sexual lifestyle. If you have multiple sexual partners, it is highly recommended that you use a condom to prevent STDs. If you are in a monogamous sexual relationship and both you and your partner have been tested, STD protection may not be as much of a concern.
5) Long-Term Family Planning Goals
Another important consideration to make when determining the right kind of birth control to use is whether or not you plan to have children and, if so, when. If you’re certain you and/or your partner never want to have kids, a permanent birth control procedure—vasectomy or tubal ligation—may be the most efficient option. If you haven’t decided or know you do want children at some point, then these permanent methods are obviously not up for consideration.
If you know or think you may want to have children, you should also keep in mind that the effects of some types of birth control take longer to wear off of your body than others. Hormonal methods, such as the patch, pill, or ring, can take up to several months to wear off and for you to ovulate again. Long-term methods, like the IUD or an implant, can also delay your family planning, as you need to schedule an appointment to have them removed. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant soon, condoms will be the easiest method to stop without affecting your timeline.
At South Avenue Women’s Services, we offer a wide variety of birth control options to suit the needs and preferences of as many of our patients as possible. Our medical professionals are happy to answer any questions you have about birth control and provide compassionate and confidential guidance as you determine which method is right for you.
To set up an appointment for a birth control procedure, prescription, or to learn more about your options, contact our practice in Rochester today!