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What birth control is right for you?

When it comes to birth control, there are many options to choose from, including pills, devices and condoms, so how do you know what contraceptive method is right for you? SheKnows offers you a guide.

Contraceptive methods
Birth control choices

As women, we have a number of choices available when it comes to preventing pregnancy, and in the future, there is even the possibility that our partners may have an option of their own by using a male birth control pill. But being in control of when we choose to become pregnant is important, so here is a brief guide to help you determine what method might be right for you.

Questions to ask

When deciding on a method of birth control, there are several things you should consider and discuss with your doctor or health care provider:

  • Your overall health and possible side effects of each method.
  • If you feel comfortable with the method.
  • The effectiveness of the birth control option.
  • Your sexual practices, including your number of partners and frequency of intercourse.
  • If you plan on having children in the future.
Once you discuss the answers to those questions, you will be better informed to make the right choice.

Birth control options

The pill

  • An oral contraceptive that is taken once a day for either 21 or 28 days, or an extended-cycle pill that is taken daily for three months. In addition to preventing pregnancy, an extended pill will decrease the number of menstrual cycles a woman will have.
  • Most pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, though a progestin-only pill is available for those unable to take estrogen.
  • May have side effects, including nausea, weight gain and an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clots.
  • A combination pill can be  99 per cent effective when taken properly, while a progestin-only pill (or mini-pill) is about 90 per cent effective.

The patch

  • A topical patch that contains the same two hormones as the pill and is applied once a week for three consecutive weeks, then taken off for a week before resuming the cycle.
  • May deliver higher doses of estrogen than the pill, since the hormones are absorbed directly into the system.
  • Has similar possible sides effects as the pill, and per the BBC online, is as effective as the pill when used correctly.

The vaginal ring

  • A flexible ring inserted vaginally once a month.
  • It is as effective as the pill when used properly, and it may cause similar side effects, such as risk of blood clots.
  • Both the patch and the ring eliminate the need to remember daily birth control.

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)

  • Two methods of birth control fall into this category: the intrauterine device (IUD) — a T-shape device that’s implanted into the uterus, and the contraceptive implant — a small rod that is implanted under the skin of the arm.
  • Eliminates the need to remember daily or weekly birth control.
  • Per the Toronto Sun, women who used either form of implant were less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than those who took the pill or used the patch or vaginal ring.

Other options

  • Condoms: The barrier method of using male condoms during sex can not only prevent pregnancy, but also reduce the risk of contracting STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). When used in conjunction with a vaginal spermicide, it can be 95 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
  • Sterilization: This method of birth control is permanent and effective. Both tubal ligation (for women) and vasectomy (for the male partner) are about 99 per cent effective.
  • Emergency contraception: This type of contraception is designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. As it is less effective than other methods, including the standard oral contraceptive pill, it is not recommended for regular use.
Consult with your doctor or health care provider for detailed information on these and other available methods of birth control to help you determine what option is right for you.

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