How to Choose the Best Birth Control Method for You
Birth control is any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. There are many different types of birth control options available, but not all of them may suit your needs, preferences, or lifestyle. Here are some things to consider when choosing a birth control method:
- Effectiveness. How well does the method prevent pregnancy? Some methods are more effective than others. For example, the birth control implant and the intrauterine device (IUD) are over 99% effective, while condoms and withdrawal are less than 90% effective. You can compare the effectiveness of different methods here.
- Convenience. How easy is it to use the method? Some methods require daily, weekly, or monthly use, while others last for years. Some methods require a prescription, a visit to a health care provider, or a procedure, while others are available over-the-counter or online. You may want to choose a method that fits your schedule and lifestyle.
- Side effects. What are the possible risks or benefits of using the method? Some methods may cause changes in your menstrual cycle, mood, weight, or libido. Some methods may also reduce your risk of certain health problems, such as ovarian cancer or pelvic inflammatory disease. You may want to talk to your health care provider about the potential side effects of different methods and how they may affect you.
- Cost. How much does the method cost? Some methods are more expensive than others, but you may be able to get them for free or at a low cost through your health insurance, Medicaid, or other programs. You can check your insurance coverage here or find a low-cost clinic here.
- Protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Does the method protect you from STIs? Some methods, such as condoms and dental dams, can help prevent the spread of STIs. Other methods do not protect you from STIs and you may need to use condoms or another barrier method along with them. You can learn more about STIs and how to prevent them here.
- Personal preferences. What are your values, beliefs, and goals regarding sex and pregnancy? Some methods may align better with your personal preferences than others. For example, some people may prefer natural or hormone-free methods, while others may prefer methods that regulate their periods or improve their acne. Some people may want a reversible method that they can stop using anytime they want to get pregnant, while others may want a permanent method that they do not have to worry about ever again. You may want to think about what is important to you and what you want from your birth control method.
The best birth control method for you is the one that you can use consistently and correctly, and that meets your needs and preferences. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for birth control. You may need to try different methods until you find the one that works best for you. You can also change your method at any time if your situation or preferences change. You can talk to your health care provider or a counselor at a family planning clinic for more information and guidance on choosing a birth control method.