How to Choose the Best Birth Control for You
If you or your partner are thinking about starting birth control for the first time, or if you’re considering switching to a new form of birth control, it may seem like the number of options is a little overwhelming. And while this can seem intimidating to some people, it doesn’t have to be a bad sign—in fact, for something as important as birth control, having the ability to make choices about which method is best for you is a good thing.
Step 1: Figure Out Your Priorities
The first step in choosing your birth control is deciding what’s most important to you and what works for your lifestyle. Do you prefer hormonal or non-hormonal methods of birth control? Will you be able to remember to take a pill at the same time every day, or would you be better off with a more low-maintenance option? Are you looking for a type of birth control that will help regulate your periods in addition to preventing pregnancy? Do you have any other underlying health conditions (such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome) that might influence your choice?
You should also consider the financial aspect of birth control. Some forms of birth control entail prescriptions that need to be refilled regularly, while others can last years without needing to be switched or updated. Which one is a better fit for your financial situation and health insurance?
If you’re in a relationship, it may be helpful to have this conversation with your partner, since your choice will impact them as well. And if finances are an issue, you might consider asking your partner if they’d be willing to contribute financially to your birth control.
Step 2: Research Your Options
Once you’ve defined the things that are important to you, the next step is to gather information about the birth control options available to you. There are some great sources for detailed, reliable information, as well as an abbreviated list of some of the more popular forms of birth control below:
- Condoms: Condoms are a physical barrier to fertilization, and have the added benefit of protecting you against STIs. While condoms are generally reliable, they have been known to break, so be prepared to have a backup method just in case.
- The Pill: The birth control pill is one of the most popular and effective forms of hormonal birth control. There are a variety of different types of pills (for example, progestin-only vs combination pills; one-month vs three-month cycles), making it easy for you to personalize your birth control. It’s crucial to remember that for the pill to work, it needs to be taken at the same time every day. Some prescriptions affect people differently, so you may need to try a couple of different options before you find the one that is most comfortable for you.
- IUDs: IUDs (intrauterine devices) are T-shaped devices that sit inside the uterus. They come in hormonal and non-hormonal (copper) forms and are effective for years, depending on the specific type. Although IUDs have to be inserted and removed by a healthcare provider, they have the benefit of being extremely low-maintenance. Side effects of IUDs are rare, but when they do occur they can be serious in nature (such as ectopic pregnancy or uterine perforation).
- Surgery: Vasectomies and tubal ligations are permanent birth control options that require surgery. In a vasectomy, the tubes that carry sperm to the penis are cut and sealed off; in tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are sealed to prevent eggs from being released into the uterus. While vasectomies may be reversed later, depending on the amount of time that has elapsed since the procedure, reversing tubal ligations is much more complicated and sometimes impossible. Notably, tubal ligations tend to be much more invasive.
While this list represents a few of the most common types of birth control, there are a number of other alternative methods to consider when deciding which type is best for you.
Step 3: Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
With the exception of condoms, which can be purchased over the counter at most grocery stores or drugstores, all of the above mentioned birth control methods require a visit to your healthcare provider, a prescription, or surgery. Depending on your medical history and whether or not you want to have children later on, your healthcare provider may recommend certain methods over others. Talk to your healthcare provider about what you’re looking for in birth control and whether you have any preferences or ideas about which method might be best for you. Importantly, your healthcare provider will also be able to discuss any questions or concerns you have about side effects or other potential issues.
MyAlly Health offers confidential reproductive health services to women and men in the Grand Forks, North Dakota area, regardless of income or age. This includes helping you select the best birth control for yourself. We provide up-to-date, medically accurate information on all birth control options and all of the services we provide are 100% confidential. In order to empower and engage individuals in their well-being and reproductive health, MyAlly Health offers education, counseling, advocacy, and healthcare services. Find out more about what we do, help make a difference by donating to our cause, or schedule an appointment with us today!
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