How to choose the right birth control for you
Birth control is not a one size fits all deal and your options do not begin and end with the pill. There are a dozen different options available that cater to different needs and lifestyles and they all differ in effectiveness, side effects and price. There’s no need to get overwhelmed, it’s all about asking the right questions. Here’s how to choose the right birth control for you.
Do you need STI protection?
Not every option will protect you against STIs. This means that, unless you and your partner are monogamous and tested, your best bet is to go with a barrier method that can be combined with your favorite choice of birth control. Male condoms are up to 98% effective to protect against pregnancy and they significantly reduce the risk of STI transmission. Female condoms are a bit more expensive, but they also offer STI protection, a better protection against HPV and they are up to 95% effective.
Is price a concern?
Some forms of birth control can be really expensive upfront and save money in the long run, such as IUDs, Implants and even sterilization. Many people find that they can afford a big expense upfront, and prefer to pay smaller amounts over time, even if it ends up being more expensive in the long run. The ring, the pill, the shot and the patch have a relatively low monthly cost and condoms are as cheap as a dollar each.
Are you planning on having a baby soon (or ever)?
Even though most forms of birth control have no lingering effect on fertility, there are a couple of options you should avoid if you want to get pregnant in the next year. The shot can stay in your system for up to 13 months after you stop using it, which will make it harder to get pregnant during that time. Tubal ligation is a permanent form of birth control and, while it is possible to reverse it, the chances of getting pregnant after a reversal are slim and there are risks for complications. If your partner had a vasectomy, it may be easier to reverse it, although it will take around a year before there’s sperm in the ejaculation and only 50% of couples manage to conceive after a reversal.
Are you worried about hormones and side effects?
Hormonal methods are usually very effective, but different women respond differently to them. Some women on the pill report better skin and regular, painless periods. Other women report weight gain and loss of libido. If you experience unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor and see if you can change your method. Hormonal IUDs usually have less side effects because their dosage is lower. Copper IUDs don’t rely on hormones, but they might cause longer periods. If you are allergic to latex or spermicides, you should stay away from regular condoms and the sponge as well.
At the end of the day, you should always talk to your doctor and discuss birth control options before you choose one method. You will find the one that is perfect for you and your lifestyle.