How to Choose the Right Birth Control Method for Your Lifestyle and Needs
Figuring out what type of birth control is right for your body can be challenging. Selecting your preferred contraceptive is an intensely personal decision that deserves some time and forethought. Here are step-by-step instructions for narrowing down your options and finding a birth control solution that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Step 1: Learn About the Different Birth Control Options
People have been using birth control for centuries. At first, contraception methods were quite archaic and included using crude condoms made from animal bladders and linen sheaths. Periodic abstinence and withdrawal were also common practices that were unfortunately prone to failure.
Luckily, since that time, many different contraception methods have been researched and developed, from Sprintec birth control pills to physical barriers. Here are some of the most popular pregnancy prevention methods available today.
“The pill” has been one of the most popular female contraception forms since it was legalized in the U.S. in the 1960s. It works by delivering certain hormones to the body at certain times of the menstrual cycle. These hormones help prevent conception by making it so you don’t ovulate.
Most oral contraceptive packs include three weeks of hormone pills and a week of placebo pills to allow for a “period.” When taken as directed, most birth control pills are 99% effective. But missing a day or taking a pill later than scheduled can reduce efficacy.
If you thought wearable patches were just for people who are trying to quit smoking, think again! You can now get a prescription for birth control patches. They release estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. Most people wear the patch in an inconspicuous area, such as the buttocks, lower abdomen, or upper body.
The patch works a lot like the pill. You change the patch every day for three weeks. For the fourth week, you don’t wear a patch at all. This stimulates your menstrual period. When used exactly as directed, the patch shares the same efficacy rate as the pill. It may be a better option for people who struggle to swallow pills and prefer a simpler method of contraception.
Some people may not want to use the pill or the patch because they worry they’ll forget to do it every day. Periodic injections of the hormone progestin may be a better choice for such people. The shot is designed to be administered by a doctor just once every three months. It’s usually injected in the arm or the buttocks and provides pregnancy protection for up to 12 weeks.
It’s important to note that due to the large doses of progestin administered with a contraceptive shot, there may be some unwanted side effects. These may include weight gain, irregular bleeding or no periods at all, and decreased bone density. However, the shot may be recommended for people with heavy, painful periods because of its tendency to lessen period severity.
Intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are another popular pregnancy prevention type. There are two main types of IUD: copper and progestin. Both types of T-shaped devices are placed inside the uterus to keep you from getting pregnant.
Both of these devices can be left inside the body for years. The copper IUD can be left in your uterus for up to 10 years. The progestin IUD is designed to stay in your body for between three and eight years. The failure rate of both of these devices is very low, mainly because there’s no risk of human error. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to take a dose when your birth control is securely placed inside your uterus.
Barrier devices are some of the oldest methods of birth control. They include male and female condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps, and spermicides. Condoms and cervical caps physically prevent sperm from getting into your body. Condoms may also prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Spermicide products work by destroying sperm. They come in creams, gels, suppositories, and tablets. You can also purchase contraceptive sponges that contain spermicide and fit over the cervix. It’s important to note that barrier methods are generally not as effective as other forms of contraception and may have a failure rate as high as 21%.
Step 2: Consider Your Lifestyle and Health Needs
Now that you know more about the different types of contraceptives you can choose from, it may be easier to choose between them. It’s important to also consider your personal lifestyle and health needs when selecting your preferred form of contraception. Besides pregnancy prevention, is there any other health concern you have that birth control may address?
Some contraceptives help with a variety of physical conditions in addition to preventing conception. For example, some birth control methods can help reduce acne, minimize heavy periods, or facilitate weight loss. Others may work best for women within certain age ranges. It’s important to think about any other special considerations or needs you have when selecting the right contraceptive.
Step 3: Get Expert Advice
It can be hard to navigate the complicated world of pregnancy prevention. If you become overwhelmed by the many options available to you, try not to get too stressed out. You can always consult with a medical professional first. That way you can get expert advice on the right type of contraception for your needs.
You’re unlikely to experience anything catastrophic or terrible by choosing a contraceptive that doesn’t work well for you. Plus, you can always switch to a different birth control method if you don’t like the one you choose at first. No matter which method you choose, you can breathe easy knowing you’ve reduced your likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy.