How to Decide on Birth Control Options


What to Know Before Opting for Birth Control

There is a wide range of contraceptive options available for women, and they have their good and not-so-good sides. This is why you should consider the right factors before settling for birth control options. Before we discuss factors to look out for, let us take a look at some of the most common birth control options.

6 Common Birth Control Options

Short-Acting Hormonal Methods

These are birth control pills, patch, and vaginal ring that contain progestin, a hormone that causes cervical mucus to thicken and also causes the endometrial lining to thin so that sperm can’t reach the egg, and if it eventually slips through, fertilized eggs can’t implant in the uterus. This birth control measure also contains estrogen that keeps the ovaries from releasing eggs. Note, however, that you’ll need a prescription from your doctor before opting for this birth control measure. It may require taking a pill a day, changing the patch every week, or changing the vaginal ring monthly. There are also yearly rings that you can use for a full year.

Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC)

IUDs and hormonal implants fall into this category. They are a longer-term birth control option that is removable whenever you choose to have a baby. LARCs offer higher levels of protection against pregnancy from 3 to 12 years after insertion. One of the advantages of LARC is that it eliminates the need to take a daily pill. These implant and hormonal IUDs contain hormone progestin that prevents pregnancy, while the copper IUD in them prevents sperm from reaching an egg. There is also an option for contraceptive injection, a shot of progestin that women can take once every three months.

Sterilization Tubal Ligations

Also called tube tying for women and vasectomies for men, these birth control options are effective for permanently preventing pregnancy.

Barrier Methods

condomBarrier methods include condoms, sponges, cervical caps, and diaphragms that physically block sperm from meeting an egg. People who opt for barrier methods use them each time they have sex or as a backup method for other forms of birth control.

Natural Rhythm Methods

These entail women tracking their cycle and avoiding sex on the days of the month when they`re likely to get pregnant.


This withdrawal method requires a man removing his penis from his partner’s vagina before he ejaculates. This way, he is sure to prevent his semen from reaching her egg, and as a result, avoid pregnancy.

Note that there’s no perfect birth control for everyone. Each person should make findings, speak with their doctor, then choose what is ideal for them. Your healthcare provider will assess your cycles, family planning needs, and risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), then they can advise on the right contraceptive for you. Let`s explore some factors that should inform your choice of birth control.

8 Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Birth Control Method

Desired Duration

The IUD, implant, and sterilization methods are long-term, lasting from three to seven years if they are hormonal IUDs, while copper IUDs can last up to 10 years. An implant can last three years, while sterilization lasts for life. If you don`t desire long-term birth control, you may opt for other types of contraception like pills that you can take every day or the patch that you can change weekly. You could also use vaginal rings that you can change weekly. Injections too are an option, as you can have it renewed every three months.  Some couples may settle for barrier methods such as condoms which they can use each time they have sex. The last option is the rhythm method that involves checking your cervical mucus, tracking your cycle daily, or charting your periods.

Level of Effectiveness

The major contraceptive goal that most people have is to avoid getting pregnant. Studies show that about 80 percent of women of reproductive age who have unprotected sex become pregnant within a year. The level of any birth control`s efficiency is a major factor in choosing it. Generally, birth control methods are measured by their failure rate. Birth control methods` failure rate is the estimated percentage of women who get pregnant within a year of using the contraceptive. From the failure rates so far, LARCs and sterilization are the most effective, with a failure rate of less than 1 percent. Hormonal methods too are effective, however, they require having to remember to take a medication regularly, getting a shot, or switching out the delivery system. All these make their failure rates fall between 4 and 7 percent. Barrier methods and fertility-awareness rhythm methods have failure rates that range from 13 to 23 percent.

Availability of Prescription

hospitalThe birth control method you choose would depend on if you have a doctor`s prescription. Hormonal birth control methods such as patch, pill, ring, and diaphragm require a doctor`s prescription. The same applies to the IUD or implant, as a doctor has to administer the injection. Condoms and spermicides are available at drugstores and don`t require a prescription.

Timeline for Having Children

If you desire to have children soon, then a short-term contraceptive is what you need. Even though the IUD and implant are effective, be sure you`re ready to visit a doctor each time you want to insert and remove it. The injection may not be a good option for women who plan to get pregnant within a year, while the pill, patch, or ring can take some months to wear off before ovulation. It`s much easier with condoms and withdrawal methods, as women can get pregnant whenever they want.

Protection Against STIs

Male and female condoms are the only forms of birth control that protect against STIs, however, they are not completely reliable. The latex condom is the most effective at protecting against STIs, and polyurethane is an effective alternative for people who have a latex allergy. Note that lambskin condoms don’t protect against STIs because they’re porous.

Underlying Health Conditions

There are people with preexisting health conditions who shouldn’t use certain types of hormonal contraception. Such people are those who have a family or personal history of breast cancer, a history of blood clots, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or migraine. They may need to speak with their doctors first to know what birth control methods are safe for them.

Conflict with Religious, Cultural, or Personal Views

If your religious or other personal views conflict with the use of hormonal or barrier birth control, then you might want to explore other options. Women who have a regular cycle can opt for the rhythm method.

Possible Risks

Some women worry about the likely side effects of taking hormones regularly. Medical research, has, however, proven that hormonal birth control is extremely safe for most women. These hormones are only synthetic versions of the ones the body naturally makes. On the other hand, some women have reported that hormonal birth control makes their periods shorter, lighter, regular, and reduces menstrual cramps. There are also reports that hormonal birth control reduces the risk of cancer of the ovaries, colon, and uterus. It is also used to treat endometriosis and fibroids. Find out if your preferred birth control method is safe for you, and observe changes in your body while you use it, then speak with your doctor.