Pills, diaphragms, IUDs, condoms, sponges, films… There are so many different birth control choices available. How do you choose which one is right for you?
What Is Birth Control?
Birth control is the term that is used for any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. While it’s great to have so many options at our disposal, sorting through those options and deciding which one is best can be challenging, to say the least.
Some methods are better than others when it comes to preventing pregnancy. The type of birth control you choose should depend upon your health, your desire to have children (now or in the future), and your need to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Methods of Birth Control
Birth control can fall into different categories. Each of those categories contain various methods of contraception. There is no “best” type of birth control, so what is ideal for you is based on your individual situation.
For example, a couple who is dating may choose a very different form of birth control than a married couple who want to have children someday but not now, or even than a couple who are done having children.
Let’s walk through some of those options so you can make an educated and informed decision when choosing a birth control method.
Short-Acting Hormonal Methods
These methods include the pill, a patch, a shot, or a vaginal ring. These types of birth control are prescribed by your doctor, and you must remember to take them either every day (pill) or every few months (shot). This method, while effective as birth control, will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives
For this method, which includes IUDs (intrauterine devices) and hormonal implants, your doctor inserts a device into your uterus that lasts anywhere from 3 to 10 years, depending on the device.
The advantage of using this method is that you don’t have to remember to use birth control every day or even every month. This method, while effective as birth control, will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
These methods of birth control include condoms, diaphragms, and sponges. They are used individually, each time you have sex.
Some of these products, such as condoms, are available without a prescription and are easily accessible at any drugstore. Condoms are highly recommended as a way to prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
If you know you don’t want any more children, you may consider tubal ligation for females, and a vasectomy for males. This surgical method of birth control will prevent pregnancy for the rest of your life.
Natural Rhythm Methods
Of all the birth control methods listed here, this is the least effective method of preventing pregnancy. This method involves avoiding sex or using birth control only on days when you are most fertile and likely to get pregnant.
To use this method, you either take a home ovulation kit or use a fertility monitor or app to track your most fertile days. And needless to say, this method does not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases.
Abstinence (refraining from sexual intercourse) is the only birth control method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
How Effective Is Birth Control?
With the obvious exception of abstinence, it is important to remember that even the most effective birth control methods can occasionally fail. It is rare, but it can happen.
However, most of the birth control methods listed above have excellent success rates, with less than 1 percent of women becoming pregnant when using the birth control correctly. Birth control methods that require a steady routine, such as the pill or rhythm method, may be less effective for women who find it difficult to keep a consistent daily schedule.
How Do I Decide What to Use to Prevent Pregnancy?
Birth control is a personal decision that should be made based on what is right for you and your partner. Each contraceptive option has its own risks and benefits, all of which should be weighed before making a decision on which method to use.
Some birth control methods also have additional benefits such as lighter, less painful periods, clearing up acne, and protecting against STDs. It is important to discuss your birth control options with your OB/GYN, who can advise you on which method is probably best for you and your lifestyle.
Gynecologist in Coral Springs
Dr. Nisseth Urribarri is the founder of the Unique Wellness Center, a full-service OB/GYN facility in Coral Springs, Florida. To schedule an appointment with her or with our NP/midwife, call us today at (954) 368-9656 or fill out our online appointment request form. Our friendly staff at Unique Wellness Center looks forward to welcoming you to our office.