Choosing a Contraceptive Method
With all the options currently available, birth control can be customized for you. There are a variety of pills, the patch, the ring, IUD, the shot, the implant and more. Options vary depending on lifestyle, health issues, convenience, frequency of intercourse, relationship with the sexual partner, long-term plans for biological children and other factors.
Some questions to consider when choosing a birth control method:
Do I have sex often enough to need a birth control that must be taken regularly?
If you have infrequent sex with someone who is not a long-term partner, you may not want a birth control that requires you to take it every day or causes you to have the hormones in your system at all times. Condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and the sponge are great options for spontaneous sex that only require some planning ahead of time. Keep in mind that only condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV (AIDS).
Can I be responsible enough to take a pill every day? Would a birth control that only needs administered weekly or monthly better fit my needs?
If you might have difficulty remembering to take a pill every day, there are several alternatives. The patch just has to be switched weekly. The ring is a less frequent option that needs to be removed and reinserted once a month. The shot can be administered once every three months. The implant prevents pregnancy for three years, and an IUD can last up to twelve.
Am I having sex with multiple partners or with a long-term, monogamous partner?
It is important to always protect yourself against the risk of HIV (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as unplanned pregnancies. If you are having sex with multiple partners or outside of a monogamous relationship, it is especially important to use condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV and STIs. Condoms are not 100% effective; only abstinence is guaranteed protection from disease, as well as pregnancy. Condoms should be used with another method of birth control to increase their effectiveness.
Does my partner agree to use birth control methods every time we have intercourse?
If you cannot trust your partner to agree to utilize a birth control method every single time you have sexual intercourse, then you should be taking some form of regular birth control. These include the pill, the ring, the patch, the shot and the implant. If you and your partner agree to practice safe sex, there are many methods available that the man can help with including the pull out method and fertility awareness method (FAM).
Did I give birth recently?
If you gave birth recently and are still breastfeeding, progestin-only birth controls such as the mini-pill. You may also choose a non-hormonal method of birth control such as latex or female condoms, a diaphragm, a sponge or a cervical cap.
Do I plan on not having children for several years?
If you plan to be sexually active for several years before you want to have a child, you may look into a long-term birth control like the IUD. There are two kinds of IUDs that offer consistent birth control for five to 12 years with one appointment and almost no follow-up. The implant Implanon provides birth control for up to three years.
Do I plan to someday have a biological child?
If you someday plan to have a child, sterilization is not the right option for you. Choose one of the reversible birth control methods. If you are sure that you do not want children or that your family is complete, sterilization may be an option for you or your partner.
Do I have health issues (such as acne, painful menstrual cramps or migraines) that can be lessened or increased with certain birth controls?
Speak with your doctor about hormonal birth control options that may ease the symptoms of migraines. It is not known why certain birth control pills help with migraines and others make them worse, so you may have to discover which is best for you by trial-and-error. There are three birth control pills that are FDA approved to treat acne: Estrostep Fe, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yaz. See the hormonal birth control pages to see what conditions may be alleviated by contraceptives.
Do I have a history of liver disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, mental depression, migraine headaches, gallbladder disease, irregular menstrual periods, strong family history of breast cancer, history of heart issues, or elevated cholesterol or triglycerides?
If you can answer yes to any of the above, notify your healthcare provider so they can prescribe a birth control that is healthy for you. Failure to notify your healthcare provider carries dangerous risks.
Am I on medicine that interferes with the effectiveness of birth control?
It’s important to notify your health care provider of all the medicines you take regularly and irregularly, so they are aware of possible complications when helping you choose a birth control method.
To secure the best birth control for you, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider.