Who should use birth control?
Sexually active women who don’t want to become pregnant should consider birth control. Timed pregnancies are important for several reasons; research continues to show that good preconception practices like weight loss, exercise, and nutrition affect the pregnancy and baby’s health. Using effective measures until you’re ready to have a child helps ensure that you are financially, emotionally, and physically ready to have a child. Even older women may need it if they don’t want a later-in-life pregnancy.
What kinds of birth control exist?
Birth control methods fall into four main groups: barrier methods, hormonal methods (including emergency contraception), long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods, and sterilization.
- Barrier methods include male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical sponges, spermicides, and cervical caps.
- Birth control hormones exist as daily oral pills, weekly patches, monthly rings, and a twelve-week recurrent injection.
- The CDC recommends LARCs, available with or without hormones, for younger women. One popular LARCs is Nexplanon, a small rod inserted in the arm containing progesterone and that lasts three years. Two others are Mirena and LILETTA, which are three and five year IUDs that also contain progesterone. There is also a copper IUD, Paragard, which lasts ten years.
- Sterilization includes vasectomy, tubal ligation, or fallopian tube implants. Essure sterilization using devices inserted into the fallopian tubes is also available.
What’s the best birth control method?
Birth control is not one-size-fits-all. A woman who has difficulty remembering to take a pill may do better with something that is not daily. Women who are concerned about hormones may prefer a barrier method like a condom, diaphragm, or an IUD. Condoms are always recommended to protect against STDs and are a better choice for a woman who is not monogamous. LARCs are a good choice for those who want a consistent form of protection that can last a few years. Sterilization is better for those who don’t wish to have children at all or are finished growing their family.
Does birth control have risks?
Birth control can have risks, the most important of which is the risk of failure. Implants and IUDs have the highest effective rating, while spermicides, when used alone, have the lowest. Pills may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. Some forms or dosages may affect blood pressure, cause blood clots, or increase migraines. However, many can be used safely and effectively with the guidance of your doctor.