Information Overload: How Do I Choose a Birth Control Option?
With today’s modern medicine, women have many options fpr birth control. But sometimes, there are so many options available that women suffer from information overload. How can women know which birth control is best? Here are five tips to consider.
1: Is preventing pregnancy my only goal?
Most birth control options will come with side effects beyond pregnancy prevention. For example, some birth control options such as the pill, the contraceptive patch, or the vaginal ring can make periods lighter. Some, however, can make periods heavier or unpredictable, including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other non-hormonal-based options.
Inversely, some birth control options can have positive health effects. Some birth control options decrease the risk of cancer or sexually transmitted diseases. Women should talk with a healthcare provider about the pros and cons of different contraceptive choices.
2: Are you really going to remember to take the pill?
Most birth control options are extremely effective, but some depend more on user diligence than others. Contraceptive implants, intrauterine systems (IUSs), and IUDs are all 99% effective when used perfectly. Because these options are not affected by user error (such as forgetting to take a pill), effectiveness is reliable.
Other options like the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring, are also 99% effective with perfect use. But the key word is perfect. Many women forget to take birth control pills or change the patch or ring exactly as directed. When taking into account user error, these options are around 91% effective.
3: Are you done for now or done for good?
Many women want to prevent pregnancy for a few years but want to have children someday. Some are uncertain about children but are unready to make a final decision. Still, others are done conceiving. There are many reversible birth control options available, as well as permanent birth control options.
4: Can contraception also be convenient?
Convenience will look different for every person. For some women, convenient birth control means not needing a prescription. For others, convenience means not having to think about birth control daily. Still, others prefer not to take any birth control at all, and would rather rely on condoms, which also protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Women should assess what convenience means on an individualized basis and discuss options with a healthcare provider.
5: Is this method safe for everyone?
Not every birth control method is safe for everyone. For example, women who smoke should avoid hormonal birth control, as the combination increases the risk of heart disease. Non-hormonal birth control is also the best option for women who have a history of blood clots, breast or uterine cancer, active liver disease, or migraines.
Birth control should be individual
The number of birth control options available is vast. Different options will be best for different women. When choosing birth control, women should work with a healthcare provider to find an option that is compatible with the woman’s overall health.