So much goes into a woman's decision about birth control. Not all forms of contraception are equal, and depending on your lifestyle right now and plans for the future, you may not opt to use the same birth control as your sister, your best friend, or your next-door neighbor. Choosing the birth control method that’s right for you is a highly individual and personal decision.
In the United States, 62% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 use some form of birth control. That’s nearly 40 million women. Obviously, not all of these women are in the same place in life.
Dr. Kelly Morales, OB/GYN, understands this and works with you to find a method that fits your life right now. You have more than a few options, and there are several factors that go into finding one that’s right for you.
Factors in Choosing the Right Birth Control
Your lifestyle and future plans aren’t the only factors that should weigh when choosing birth control. Your personal health history also plays an important role in your decision. Chronic health conditions such as migraine headaches and high blood pressure, along with cigarette smoking, can make an estrogen-based birth control method more of a risk for you.
In addition to your health history, consider the following when evaluating birth control methods:
- How easy it is to use
- The cost of each method
- The effectiveness of the birth control
- Whether you want permanent, irreversible birth control or just temporary, until you decide to have children
Women in monogamous relationships may choose a different kind of birth control than those who are single.
Some women are more sensitive to the side effects of hormone-based birth control. Heavy periods, breast tenderness, weight gain, depression, headaches, and hair and skin changes are all possible side effects of hormone-based contraceptives. Alert Dr. Morales if you experience any of these side effects.
Top Doctor-Prescribed Contraceptives
Here’s a look at the most popular forms of physician-prescribed birth control and their effectiveness:
Birth Control Implant (Nexplanon)
This is a tiny physician-implanted rod, about the size of a matchstick, that releases a hormone to prevent pregnancy. It’s 99% effective.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The IUD is a tiny device inserted into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s also 99% effective. There are hormone and hormone-free IUDs, and both work by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg.
Birth Control Shot (Depo Provera)
Given every three months, the birth control shot contains the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation. Its efficacy rate is 94%.
This is a flexible ring inserted into your vagina. It releases hormones that prevent ovulation. The ring is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Birth Control Patch
The patch releases hormones transdermally into your bloodstream to prevent ovulation. You wear the patch for one week, then replace it with a new patch. It is about 91% effective.
Birth Control Pill
One of the most common forms of birth control, the pill is 91% effective when taken daily. It releases hormones to prevent ovulation.
The diaphragm is a soft, silicone saucer-like device that fits over your cervix, creating a barrier. You insert it yourself prior to intercourse. It’s 88% effective, but you can increase the effectiveness slightly if you use it in combination with a spermicide.
Much like a diaphragm, the cervical cap prevents pregnancy by blocking the opening of your cervix, but it’s smaller and somewhat easier to insert than a diaphragm. The cap is only about 75% effective, but you can use it with spermicide to up the effectiveness.
If you don’t want any more children or don’t want children at all, sterilization or tubal ligation is a permanent way to prevent pregnancy. This is surgical procedure whereby the fallopian tubes are blocked by one of several methods. Also known as “getting your tubes tied,” this method is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.
As you can see, there are many safe and effective choices when it comes to contraception. Consider your health, your short-term and long-term reproductive plans, your lifestyle, and affordability as you determine which birth control is right for you. Then talk with Dr. Morales.