You have a lot of options when it comes to birth control and choosing the method that’s right for you may seem overwhelming but we’re here to help you get started.
Birth control is one of the most effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancies, but choosing the right type can be difficult. You have a lot of options, so how do you know which is right for you?
Here are some things to think about when deciding on a method:
- Do you want to get pregnant within the next year?
- How often do you have sex?
- How many sex partners do you have?
- Do you want a method that allows you the flexibility to start and stop whenever you want?
- How well does the birth control method work?
- Will you remember to take a pill every day?
- Would you prefer having fewer periods or having your period every month?
- Have you experienced side effects from birth control in the past?
- Do you have high blood pressure, smoke or are you over age 35?
Answering these questions should give you an idea of the type of birth control that may be the best for you and your situation. Your healthcare provider can also help by telling you more about your options and giving advice.
Here are some of those options:
IUD: An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic with copper or hormones that a healthcare provider places inside a woman’s uterus.
There are two kinds of IUDs:
- Copper IUDs release a small amount of copper to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. It can last for up to 10 years.
- Hormonal IUDs release a small amount of hormone to prevent pregnancy. There are 4 different types of hormonal IUDs. Some kinds can last for up to 5 years and some can last for up to 3 years.
IUDs are very effective and very convenient. You don’t feel the IUD when it’s in place – and there’s nothing to do or remember once it’s there. IUDs don’t protect you or your sex partner from HIV or other STDs. But you can use a condom with your IUD to help protect against STDs.
Implant: The birth control implant is another long-term option. It’s a small device that is inserted into your arm and releases birth control hormones.
Hormonal methods (Shorter term): These types of birth control release hormones into your body that prevent eggs from leaving your ovaries. Some may help if you have irregular periods or need help managing PMS.
- Shot – given by a doctor or nurse every 3 months
- Patch – worn on the skin and replaced once a week, with one week off every month
- Ring – put in the vagina and replaced once a month
- Birth control pills – taken every day
These methods don’t protect you or your sex partner from STDs. But you can use condoms to help protect against HIV or other STDs while using hormonal birth control.
Barrier methods: Barrier methods, like external (male) or internal (female) condoms and diaphragms, rely on keeping sperm and eggs separate. These devices are convenient because they’re only used during sex, and they can be combined with other forms of birth control.
- Male condoms are also very effective at preventing HIV and reducing the risk of other STDs when used correctly every time you have sex.
- Female condoms may also help prevent HIV and other STDs. Diaphragms do not protect against HIV or STDs.
Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs) are sometimes called natural family planning. With FAMs, you learn which days you’re more likely to get pregnant. If you want to prevent pregnancy, you don’t have sex on those days – or you use another method of birth control. FAMs are only an option for women who have regular periods. It’s important to know that FAMs are not typically as effective at preventing pregnancies as some other forms of birth control, like IUDs or hormonal methods.
We haven’t touched on all the options, so it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider to help decide what’s right for you. All forms of birth control vary in how effective they are in preventing pregnancy, and some depend on using them correctly to be effective.
Take the next step in finding the birth control method that’s right for you. Find your nearest NJFPL health center and make an appointment to speak with a healthcare provider about your birth control needs.