If you’re considering using birth control (contraception), you have a variety of options. Talk to your health care provider about your medical history and family history and how it might affect your choice of birth control.
If you’re considering using birth control (contraception), you have a variety of options. To help pick the right method of birth control for you and your partner, consider the following questions.
What birth control options are available?
Among your birth control options are:
- Barrier methods. Examples include male and female condoms, as well as the diaphragm, cervical cap and contraceptive sponge.
- Hormonal methods. Examples include birth control pills, as well as the vaginal ring (NuvaRing), contraceptive implant (Implanon), contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera) and birth control patch.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs). Examples include the copper IUD (ParaGard) and the hormonal IUD (Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, others).
- Sterilization. Examples include tubal ligation for women, and vasectomy for men.
- Natural family planning. Examples include the rhythm, basal body temperature and cervical mucus methods.
- It’s also important to be aware of emergency contraception — such as the morning-after pill (Postinor, Aftera, ella, others) — which can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
How do the different birth control options work?
Various types of birth control work in different ways. Birth control methods may:
- Prevent sperm from reaching the egg
- Inactivate or damage sperm
- Prevent an egg from being released each month
- Alter the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg doesn’t attach to it
- Thicken cervical mucus so that sperm can’t easily pass through it
What is the method’s effectiveness?
To be effective, any method of contraception must be used consistently and correctly. Contraceptives that require little effort on your part, such as IUDs, contraceptive implants and sterilization, are associated with lower pregnancy rates. In contrast, methods that require monitoring fertility or periodic abstinence are associated with higher pregnancy rates. The bottom line is that the right method is the one that you are comfortable with and willing and able to use.
Is it convenient and affordable?
For some people, convenience suggests ease of use, no bothersome side effects or no disruption of the sexual experience. For others, convenience means no prescription is required. When choosing a method of contraception, consider how willing you are to plan ahead or, if necessary, adhere to a rigid schedule. It’s important to choose a type of birth control that suits your lifestyle.
Some methods of contraception are inexpensive, while others are more costly. Ask your insurance provider about coverage, and then consider the expense as you make a decision.
What are the side effects?
Consider your tolerance for the possible side effects associated with a particular birth control method. Some methods such as those that contain estrogen or progesterone pose more side effects — some potentially serious — than do others, such as barrier methods and natural family planning methods. Talk to your health care provider about your medical history and family history and how it might affect your choice of birth control.
Does it protect against sexually transmitted infections?
Male and female condoms are the only methods of birth control that offer reliable protection from sexually transmitted infections. Unless you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship and have been tested for sexually transmitted infections, use a new condom every time you have sex in addition to any other method of birth control you use.
Does it offer other benefits?
In addition to preventing pregnancy, some contraceptives provide benefits such as more predictable, lighter menstrual cycles, a decreased risk of sexually transmitted infections or a reduction in the risk of some cancers. If these benefits are important to you, they may influence your choice of birth control option.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Edit and Reviewed by Dr. Nguyen Thi Hong Anh – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist