What to consider when choosing birth control


What to consider when choosing birth control

Look up “birth control” and the options are more varied and abundant than ever before.  Over the years, birth control options have become easier to use and are more effective at preventing pregnancy helping couples plan when they want to have a family or not. 

Deciding which one to use can be challenging – there is quite a selection ranging from birth control implants, the patch, the pill, a shot, the sponge, vaginal ring, cervical cap, male and female condoms, diaphragm, IUD, spermicide, abstinence, sterilization, and natural planning.  It really comes down to deciding what is right for you and your partner.  Before settling on any one form of contraception, it is good to weigh the pros and cons of all types of birth control.  By asking questions and talking with your doctor, you and your partner will find the option that suits you best. 

Keep in mind what works for one couple may not be suitable for another.  Each birth control options available have their own unique barrier method for preventing implantation.  To make the right decision, here are factors all couples need to consider when choosing the right birth control for them:

·      How effective is it?

This is probably at the top of the list of what to look for when making a decision. There will be certain birth control methods that work better than others.  Usually the birth control having the least amount of effort to use is the most effective.  Sterilization, IUDs, and implants would fall into this category.  If using the pill, the patch, and condoms, each of which can be very effective when used correctly, does require consistency in use.  Birth control methods that would be the least effective include withdrawal before ejaculation and fertility monitoring.

·      What side effects can there be?

Not all birth control methods have side effects, but some do.  Hormone-based contraceptives such as the pill can cause side effects of breast tenderness, weight gain, nausea, cramping, bleeding between periods, depression, hair or skin changes, and headaches.  Always talk to your doctor about what, if any side effects there may be before making your decision. 

·      How do they fit your personality and lifestyle?

To make birth control live up to its job in preventing pregnancy, they must be used exactly as prescribed.  If forgetfulness is a tendency you have, then using the pill which requires you to remember to take it every day may not be the best choice.  Will you always use a condom consistently?  If you smoke, then the pill also would not be a wise choice as it can greatly increase your risk of blood clots. 

·      Is the birth control method reversible?

One of the important factors to consider is your long-term reproductive goals.  If you know you are done having children or have no plans of ever becoming a parent, then sterilization may be suited for you.  But if you want to plan a family in the near future, then consider birth control that is easy to stop and is completely reversible, such as condoms or oral contraceptives.  If becoming a parent is many years away yet, An IUD may be more appropriate.

·      What, if any, health conditions do you have?

Your current and past state of health can be a determinant in which birth control to use.  Women older than age 35 and who smoke should not use hormone-based birth control as it can increase their risk of heart disease.  Also any woman with a history of blood clots or stroke, breast or uterine cancer, active liver disease, or have migraine headaches with aura, should also avoid hormone-based contraceptives.  Always be honest in providing your doctor with all information on your health conditions before using prescription birth control methods.

·      What is the cost?

Birth control can vary in their expense.  Know what you can afford when considering the cost of birth control.  Also think about the ease of being able to get your birth control.  Many methods require a prescription and regular checkups. 

·      Are you in a monogamous relationship?

Not only are you looking for contraception to prevent pregnancy but you also want one protecting you from sexually transmitted disease (STDs) especially if you have multiple partners.  The best way to protect against HIV and STDs is to use a condom consistently and correctly each and every time.  For those in monogamous relationships, non-barrier methods such as pills, patches, or IUDs are usually a good option as long as your partner doesn’t have an STD.