Choosing a form of birth control is a big decision. There are lots of factors to consider. Before you choose your preferred method of birth control, it’s important to discuss your options with a doctor. Dr. Lillian Schapiro and Dr. Kristan Adams at Ideal Gynecology can provide personalized recommendations depending on your personal preferences and birth control objectives.
Before you begin evaluating your options, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want your birth control to reduce STI (sexually transmitted infection) transmission risk, too?
- What is your budget?
- Do you want children in the future? If so, that may impact which method is best.
- Are you trying to solve for other medical conditions?
- Do you want a method that requires daily usage?
Depending on how you’ve answered those questions, your options will vary. Effectiveness, level of maintenance, cost, and side effects all factor into which method is best for you. First, it’s important to understand how birth control works and how it may impact your body.
How birth control works
Birth control is made up of a variety of options. It does not necessarily mean a pill, rather, it can be a behavior, barrier, hormonal option, or a medical option.
Let’s break those down:
- Behavior: A behavior something you or your partner has to do, including abstinence and interruption of intercourse.
- Barrier: This method goes on or in your body before you have sex to block sperm from getting to the egg.
- Hormonal: This method changes a woman's body chemistry. Depending on the type, it stops ovaries from releasing eggs or can thicken the mucus around your cervix and keep sperm from reaching the egg.
- Medical: This method changes your body more permanently.
When you’ve evaluated which option best suits your ultimate goals, you can begin choosing a method.
Types of birth control
Birth control options vary depending on your desired outcome.
Short-term hormonal contraception
Hormonal birth control adjusts your body’s chemical make-up. Common methods include birth control pills, a hormonal patch, a vaginal ring you change every month, or a shot your doctor gives you every three months. These methods require a prescription. For most women, they are anywhere between 91-95% effective.
Hormonal birth control side effects are different for everyone and may be more severe in the beginning. In general, many women notice positive effects on their birth control such as a decrease in period pain, frequency, or flow.
Long-term contraception is an effective birth control method if you are looking for a low-maintenance option. Options include an implant or intrauterine device (IUD) inserted into your uterus. These methods tend to be more effective at around 99%. Depending on the brand, they can last between 3-10 years.
The upper arm implant (Nexplanon) and hormonal IUDs (such as Mirena) work by adjusting your body’s progestin levels over time. Copper IUDs stop sperm from fertilizing your eggs. Many choose this option because it requires little maintenance and can be removed should you decide to start a family.
Condoms, sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps, and spermicide are forms of barrier birth control. They are referred to as “barrier” contraception because they create a barrier during sex, blocking the sperm from reaching the egg. Barrier methods require usage each time you have sex and do not protect against STIs.
Such contraceptives are typically 71-88% effective. Many choose to combine barrier methods with other forms of birth control for greater effectiveness.
Permanent contraception is almost 100% effective. These methods include tubal ligation (for women) or vasectomy (for men) are relatively simple surgical procedures intended to permanently prevent pregnancy. For couples who do not want children, this may be the best option.
Recovery time after these procedures will vary from patient-to-patient, but the good news is your everyday life will remain the same. Permanent birth control requires no day-to-day upkeep, making it one of the most effective forms of birth control.
Choosing birth control is a personal decision with plenty of options to weigh. Before making a decision, discussion your preferences and medical history with the specialists at Ideal Gynecology. Book or call for your first appointment today.