For many decades, the pill was the only type of birth control available. Fortunately, things have come a long way and there are now more birth control options available than ever. Choice can be a great thing, but it’s common to feel overwhelmed by your options when considering going on birth control or changing to a new type. Although your gynecologist can guide you to the right options for you, it can be helpful to consider some important factors that will determine which types and methods will fit you best.
Birth Control Effectiveness
If not getting pregnant is your biggest priority, then you’ll want to consider which birth control methods are most effective. When gynecologists talk about how effective a birth control method is, there’s a differentiation between when it’s used “ideally” (meaning exactly the way it was designed) versus how the average person uses it in real life. “Typical” use takes into account that people can’t or don’t always use birth control correctly or consistently. This means you’ll want to aim for a birth control method that has a high rate of typical use for best protection.
Hormonal vs. Non-Hormonal
Some birth control methods change your body’s estrogen and progesterone levels to prevent pregnancy. They use estrogen and progesterone, similar to those in your body, to stop the release of an egg so that it can’t be fertilized by sperm. These options include birth control pills, insertable vaginal rings, shots, implants and progesterone IUDs. You’ll need a prescription for them. Non-hormonal options include condoms, diaphragms, sponges, vaginal suppositories, or the copper IUD. It’s important to consider the impact of hormonal methods because they can sometimes come with side effects or cause health concerns in some women. However, hormonal methods can be some of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy. In addition, most hormonal contraceptives have several non-contraceptive benefits, including minimizing menstrual bleeding and reducing the risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancers.
Long Term vs. Short Term
There are some forms of birth control that you’ll need to use every time you have sex. Some other forms don’t require you to worry about it for weeks, months, or years. Options like IUDs, implants, or shots can be a great option if you don’t have immediate plans to get pregnant. If you are confident you have no plans for pregnancy, permanent procedures like a vasectomy or tubal ligation are good options. If you do plan to get pregnant soon, you can explore options like the pill or condoms that will allow you to get pregnant when the time is right.
You shouldn’t consider this a form of regular birth control. It’s for use after incidences like unprotected sex or if your condom breaks. It can prevent pregnancy up to 3 to 5 days later— although, the sooner you take it, the more effective it is. Most emergency contraception products are referred to as “morning after” pills, but the copper-T IUD works as emergency contraception, too. If you want an IUD, a doctor needs to put it in within 5 days of when you had sex. There are several types of emergency contraception in pill form that are sold at pharmacies as well.
Some birth control methods will be more costly than others. Some long-term methods (like an IUD or implant) will be more expensive up front but will protect you for a long time. Short term methods, like the pill or condoms, can be cheaper but will require you to buy them as frequently as you need. Also, be sure to consider the time consumed filling prescriptions and running to the store versus a one-time insertion procedure.
Schedule an Appointment
The best way to learn more about your family planning options is by meeting with our award-winning team of gynecologists. To schedule an appointment at our New York City office, contact us by calling or filling out our online form.