You have lots of options when it comes to choosing a safe and effective method of birth control. But, if you’re not sure what’s going to work best for your life, having so many options can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Choosing a birth control method is an extremely personal decision, and what makes one method work for someone else may make it completely unsuitable for you.
Dr. Leroy Charles and his expert team at Women's Pavilion of the Palm Beaches is happy to provide you with information regarding the effectiveness, benefits, and drawbacks of the various types of birth control. You may want to think about how each one is likely to fit into your unique life.
Types of birth control
As you probably already know, you have many choices when it comes to birth control, but they all fall into five categories. Those five categories include:
- Barrier methods
- Hormonal methods
- Intrauterine devices, or IUDs
- Permanent methods
- Natural family planning methods
Within each category, there are several choices. For example, both condoms and diaphragms are types of birth control that use the barrier method.
Regardless of the category or specific method, in order for birth control to work, you must use it correctly and consistently. Very broadly speaking, birth control methods that require little effort to be effective, such as IUDs, have better success rates — that is, lower pregnancy rates — than those that you have to remember to use, such as condoms.
How birth control works
Just as there are different categories with their own methods of birth control, there are different ways that birth control can work. The method you choose could prevent sperm from reaching an egg, like a condom. Here are other ways birth control can work:
- Damage sperm or render it inactive
- Stop eggs from being released
- Prevent sperm from passing through the cervix
- Change the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg can’t attach
The birth control methods with the highest rates of pregnancy, or the least reliable, are those that fall into the category of natural family planning. Those methods involve things like monitoring fertility and periodic abstinence. Natural family planning may be the most suitable method for you, but you should be aware of its limitations.
Important lifestyle factors to consider
As you evaluate your options, there are some things to think about. For instance, if you’d like to have children someday, but not now, or you’re not sure if you’ll want to become pregnant eventually, you’ll want to choose a method that is reversible.
Another consideration that is important for many people concerns religious beliefs. Some types of birth control are prohibited by some religious groups. If religion is an important part of your life, you’ll want to consider that as you make a decision.
Because the most effective methods of birth control tend to be the easiest to use, convenience is an important factor. Convenient means different things to different people, so carefully consider what you’re likely to do as well as what will be bothersome for you.
Affordability is also an important factor, and it may depend on your insurance. You should make sure that whatever form of birth control you choose is within your budget.
Some people can’t take hormonal birth control because those methods can cause side effects. Other people need to take hormonal birth control for reasons unrelated to contraception. Whether the form of birth control you’re considering has side effects is an important topic to discuss with your doctor.
If you have more than one partner, or your partner has more than one partner, you should think about protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are the only reliable protection from STDs, so depending on your circumstances, you may need to use multiple birth control methods.
You’re a unique individual, and your questions about birth control methods are likely very personal. Book an appointment at Women's Pavilion of the Palm Beaches by giving us a call or using our online scheduling tool. We’re happy to give you the answers you need in order to make an informed decision that works for your life.