CHOOSING A CONTRACEPTIVE – THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE COMMITTING
Choosing a Contraceptive - Things to Consider Before Committing
Birth control is a tricky business. A lot of us don't use it as much as we should, or we do use it but we're not necessarily using birth control correctly. There are about a billion different birth control options. But you can't just pick a birth control method— you need to make sure you're using it regularly and effectively. When there's so much that can go wrong, it's not an area you can afford to be sloppy.
1) Choosing the Right Contraceptive - How effective is it?
Some birth control methods work better than others do. In general, birth control that requires the least effort by you is the most effective. Examples include sterilization, IUDs, and implants. Pills, the patch, and condoms can be very effective if used correctly and consistently. The least effective birth control methods require self-control, including withdrawal before ejaculation and fertility monitoring.
2) Choosing the Right Contraceptive - Is it reversible?
When choosing birth control, consider your long-term reproductive goals. Permanent methods, such as sterilization, are not a good option until you are sure your family is complete. If you want to get pregnant in the near future, consider birth control that is easy to stop and is completely reversible, such as condoms or oral contraceptives. If you will not be ready to have children for a long time, an IUD or IUB (LINK) may be appropriate.
3) Choosing the Right Contraceptive - Are the side effects tolerable?
Some contraceptives, particularly hormone-based contraceptives, cause side effects. You may have breast tenderness, bleeding between periods, nausea, cramping, weight gain, depression, hair or skin changes, or headaches. Other contraceptives may cause heavy periods. When choosing a birth control method, talk to your provider about possible side effects and consider which ones you can live with.
4) Choosing the Right Contraceptive - Does it fit your personality and lifestyle?
Birth control must be used exactly as prescribed to be effective. If you are forgetful, birth control that requires remembering to take a pill every day may not be the best choice. If you aren’t sure you will consistently apply a condom before intercourse, consider a method that doesn’t cause an interruption. These methods include the pill, IUD or shot (Depo-Provera). If you smoke, avoid hormone contraceptives because the combination greatly increases your risk of blood clots and heart disease.
5) Choosing the Right Contraceptive - Do you have health conditions?
Take good care of yourself. Some hormonal contraceptives are unsafe for women with certain health conditions. If you are older than 35 and smoke, hormone-based birth control can increase your risk of heart disease. You should avoid hormone-containing birth control if you have a history of blood clots or stoke, breast or uterine cancer, active liver disease, or have migraine headaches with aura. Play it safe—tell your healthcare provider about all your health conditions before using prescription birth control methods.
Bonus: Choosing the Right Contraceptive - Can you afford it?
Birth control expense is a practical matter. Some birth control methods are more expensive than others. Consider how much the birth control costs and choose one you can afford. Keep in mind that some birth control methods cost more initially, but may be more affordable over a long time, such as tubal ligation (sterilization). Also, think about how easy it will be to get your birth control. Many methods require a prescription and regular check-ups.