Birth control is one of those things that just because one type works really well for your friend, it doesn’t mean it will work best for you – it varies from person to person! The main purpose of birth control is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, (but can also be used for acne control), but because there are so many side effects, it is important to find the one that works best for your body and lifestyle. Sometimes it takes a few trial and errors to figure out what is best for you, but no worries! There are many options that you can discuss with your doctor to find the right fit for you.
Types of Birth Control:
Hormonal Birth Control Options
- The Pill
The pill is the most common type of birth control used by women. There are tons of brands and different varieties of birth control pills, so it is best to consult your doctor about which work best for you. Most commonly, the pill contains both progestin and estrogen, but they do have birth control pills that don’t contain estrogen in case you are sensitive to the added hormones. The pill should be taken every day at the same time to be the most effective, which can be difficult for some people to keep up with. While on the pill, you can expect few to no periods, and less severe period symptoms. Most side effects such as nausea, headaches, or tenderness get better with time. If not, consult your doctor immediately.
Another very popular birth control option is an IUD. The IUD comes in two forms, hormonal and non-hormonal. An IUD is a small device that is shaped like a “T” that the doctor places into your uterus that effectively prevents pregnancy, (by 99%). These small devices last about 3-5 years! So once it’s inserted, you don’t have to give it a second thought until it needs replacing. When you get the IUD, you can expect irregular bleeding for a few months, and the copper (non-hormonal) can give heavy cramping for the first few months. An IUD can always be taken out if you are having painful symptoms.
- The Patch
If you want birth control that you don’t have to worry about every day but aren’t ready to commit to the IUD, the patch is a great option. The patch is a small plastic square that you put on your arm which must be replaced every seven days. Side effects include nausea, irregular bleeding, headaches, and skin rashes. The patch, when used correctly, is 91% effective.
- Birth Control Shot
The birth control shot, also known as Depo, is simply a shot that is administered by your doctor every three months that prevents pregnancy. Each shot is meant to last about thirteen weeks so it is imperative that you visit your doctor to get them updated. Also, the effectiveness is only 94%. It’s important to be aware of the fact that if this isn’t the right fit for you, there is no way to reverse the effects of the shot. Some potential side effects are weight gain and irregular periods.
- The Ring
The birth control ring, or more popularly known as the Nuvaring, is a small plastic yet flexible ring that you insert into your vagina that can be easily taken out and put back in. It’s effectiveness is 91%. The way the ring works is that you insert it for three weeks, and remove it when you are supposed to get your period. You can expect similar side effects to the pill.
- The Arm Bar
The arm bar is another great birth control method if you want something easy that you don’t have to think about. It is a small, thin rod that is placed directly under the skin in your upper arm. The arm bar contains progesterone that releases slowly. It is 99% effective and needs to be replaced every three years.
A diaphragm is a silicone cup in that is placed in the vagina that covers the cervix. In order for the diaphragm to work properly, it needs to be used along with a spermicide to block sperm from reaching the eggs. It has an 92-96% chance of preventing pregnancy when used correctly and with spermicide.
The sponge is a quick and easy form of birth control to use. It is a small, fluffy, round shaped sponge that you place in your vagina before sex. Much like the diaphragm, it covers up the cervix in order to block the sperm from reaching your egg. It contains spermicide as well in order to prevent pregnancy. The sponge is 76-86% effective, so for best results, it’s best to use a condom as well.
- Male Condom
The male condom is a thin covering typically made of latex that is placed over the penis during sex. When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy, and is one of the only forms of birth control to help protect against STD’s. This is a simple to use preventative measure that is widely available, affordable, and come in many different textures and sizes.
- Female Condoms
A female condom is similar to a male condom, but instead it is a soft plastic pouch that is placed inside the vagina. It can be used as an alternative to male condoms, and if used correctly, can be 95% effective. Similarly to condoms, in addition to preventing pregnancy, they also help protect you against STD’s and STI’s.
Spermicide comes in the form of a chemical gel that is placed deep into the vagina prior to having sex. It is 71% effective and prevents pregnancy by blocking the entrance to your cervix as well as stopping the sperm from reaching the egg. It can be used on it’s own or in combination with other types of birth controls.
Other forms of Birth Control
- Fertility Awareness
If birth control is not an option for you, you can minimize the likelihood of pregnancy by tracking your fertility cycle. This is done by tracking the days throughout the month when you are most fertile vs infertile. But be warned, 24 out of 100 couples get pregnant within a year using this method.
- Lactational Amenorrhea Method
This method is for women who have recently given birth and have chosen to breast feed. In order for this form of contraception to work, one must not have any menstrual periods after delivering the child, must be fully breast feeding (must not go longer than 6 hours without breastfeeding), and it must be within 0-6 months of giving birth. This is only effective (98%) if all the requirements are met.
- Emergency Contraceptive Pill
Although this should not be used as a regular method of birth control, emergency birth control should only be for when no birth control has been used or if the used birth control method failed. Emergency contraceptive pills work best when taken up to 3 days after sex.
- Tubal Ligation
If a female desires a permanent option of birth control, she is able to do a tubal ligation, which involves blocking or tying the fallopian tubes in order to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing an egg. The method is effective immediately, and reversal is difficult, but not impossible.
- Male Vasectomy
This is an operation that prevents male sperm from entering the the mans semen. This is a quick procedure that has up to one week of recovery time. Men can expect to see a complete drop in sperm count within 12 weeks of the procedure.