Preventing pregnancy is a top concern for many women, but sometimes finding the right type of birth control can seem daunting. You will not only have to consider the possible side effects of some contraceptives but also decide which method will best fit into your lifestyle so that it can be used consistently and effectively. The good news is that there are multiple types of contraceptives, so you can find one to fit your specific needs.
Birth Control Pills
Probably one of the most well-known types of birth control used is a contraceptive pill. Birth control pills are taken daily and work in a number of ways to prevent pregnancy from occurring. They have one of the highest effective rates with perfect use, meaning that you never miss a dose and take your dose close to the same time each day. You can choose from combination pills or progestin-only pills, often referred to as a mini pill.
Barrier devices help to prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it. Barrier methods can also be used with spermicide to increase effectiveness, and are highly effective when used correctly and consistently. Some of the most commonly used barrier devices include:
- Male condoms: The device is made of polyurethane or latex and is placed over the male genital organ before the beginning of sexual intercourse. It is easy to obtain, highly effective, and also helps prevent the transmission of many STDs.
- Female condoms: This barrier method is made of polyurethane and works by fixing one ring behind the pubic bone and leaving the other ring outside of the vagina. They are about as effective as a male condom, though they can be more difficult to find.
- Diaphragm: This barrier method is used in conjunction with spermicide and is a dome-shaped device that is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. It will need to be put in place before sexual intercourse and is highly effective, especially when used with a spermicide.
Another highly effective method that is ideal for those who have a problem remembering birth control is the depo shot. The shot is progestin-only, making it suitable for those who have had problems with estrogen-based birth control. It works by preventing the release of an egg and is one of the most effective methods when administered in the required time frame. You will need to have the injection every three months to maintain efficiency.
Intrauterine devices are small, T-shaped, flexible devices that are placed into the uterus by a physician. One type of IUD is a copper IUD which releases toxins that kill sperm and can be effective for up to 10 years. You can also choose hormonal IUDs which release progestin and keep the sperm from reaching the egg by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the walls of the uterus. They have a slim failure rate and can last for three to 10 years, depending on the type you choose.
Choosing the right birth control option is personal, but an important decision. If you are unsure which method is right for you, have a discussion with your health provider about which method will best suit your lifestyle.