If you’re considering using birth control, you have many options — from natural family planning and over-the-counter birth control products to prescription contraceptives or sterilization.
To help determine which birth control method would be best for you, consider your lifestyle, personal preferences and health status. How do you feel about planning for sex? Inserting birth control devices into your body? Taking a pill at the same time every day or tracking your fertile days? Our providers at Naples Women’s Center are here to help you figure out what type of birth control is right for you.
The best method of birth control for you is one that is safe, that you are comfortable using, and that you are able to use consistently and correctly.
Birth control options include:
- Barrier methods. Examples include male and female condoms, as well as the diaphragm, cervical cap and contraceptive sponge.
- Short-acting hormonal methods. Examples include birth control pills, as well as the vaginal ring (NuvaRing), skin patch (Xulane) and contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera). These are considered short-acting methods because you have to remember to use them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
- Long-acting hormonal methods. Examples include the copper IUD (ParaGard), the hormonal IUD (Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, others) and the contraceptive implant (Nexplanon). These are considered long-acting methods because they last for three to 10 years after insertion — depending on the device — or until you decide to have the device removed.
- Sterilization. This is a permanent method of birth control. Examples include tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men.
- Fertility awareness methods. These methods focus on knowing which days of the month you are able to get pregnant (fertile), often based on basal body temperature and cervical mucus. To avoid getting pregnant, you do not have sex on or around the days you are fertile, or you use a barrier method of birth control.
It’s also important to be aware of emergency contraception — such as the morning-after pill (Plan B One-Step, Aftera, ella, others) — which can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
What are the Side Effects?
Consider your tolerance for the possible side effects associated with a particular birth control method. Some methods pose more side effects — some potentially serious — than others. Schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about your medical history and how it might affect your choice of birth control.
Does Birth Control Protect Against STIs?
Male and female condoms are the only methods of birth control that offer reliable protection from sexually transmitted infections. Unless you are in a mutually monogamous relationship and have been tested for sexually transmitted infections, use a new condom every time you have sex in addition to any other method of birth control you use.
The Bottom Line
Knowing your options is definitely part of the decision process — but an honest assessment of yourself and your relationships is just as important when deciding which type of birth control is right for you. Schedule an appointment to talk to your physician about what might be the best step for you.