The 20s are a powerful decade. You start them as a child-adult, in the full throws of learning who you are and what it’s like to live life on your own. At this point in your life, you’re probably still in college or working your first “real,” full-time job – figuring out what you want to do next.
By the end of the decade, you’re turning 30. You may already be married, and you’re more solid-footed on the academic and/or career track. The 29-year old you is a pretty far cry from that younger, 20-year old version.
And guess what? Throughout that decade, you approach and arrive at your fertility peak – so it’s smart to focus on your contraceptive options.
You Are At Your Fertility Peak in Your 20s
By your mid-20s, you have the highest chance of getting pregnant than at any other time in your life. If it’s important to you to use this time to pursue your personal path – rather than procreating – you need to get serious about contraception.
Here are some of the most popular and successful methods for preventing pregnancy before you’re ready:
Always Wear Condoms
These are absolutely NOT the best method of contraception (condoms have a 20% fail rate). However, we’re listing them first because we believe all women in their 20s should “go dutch,” insisting her male partner wear condoms, regardless of her main mode of contraception.
Men and women are the most promiscuous during their 20s and early 30s, which puts you at a higher risk of contracting an STD. Also, the reality is that you can’t always trust your partner – even though you want to. One slip up on his part can expose you to STD. That’s not a risk you want to take, especially when you consider that many STDs are asymptomatic and can lead to permanent health issues and complications – like infertility when you’re finally ready to have a baby.
Plus: Condoms are cheap, readily available, and they keep you from contracting undesirable diseases and infections.
Minus: You have to use one every time for them to work and they can take a little of the spontaneity. Compared with STDs and/or pregnancy, we feel it’s a worthy sacrifice. Also, men complain about them. However, this is a great test to see if he’s worthy: a man who won’t have sex with you if he has to wear a condom is worth sending on his way. A much better version, who will wear a condom and who respects your wishes, will be along shortly – we promise.
The Tried-and-True Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill is still the most common form of hormone-based birth control, primarily due to cost effectiveness and their almost perfect success rate. They use synthetic forms of estrogen (and sometimes also progesterone) to fake your body into thinking it’s already pregnant, and blocking ovulation. The pill has come a long way and today’s versions are much easier on the body than in previous decades.
Birth control pills are supposed to have about a 99.7% success rate. However, that rate typically dips to about 92% in real life. They work best when taken each and every single day, at the same time, so there is no chance for your body to “do its own thing” and release an egg. However, most women have a skip here and there, or take it one evening when they usually take it in the morning. One slip can cause a baby – another reason why condoms are a smart idea – they provide excellent back up protection in case of hormonal fails.
Pros: Many insurance plans cover them, and generic brands are only about $10 a month. Birth control pills can also alleviate the side effects of endometriosis, PCOS, acne, or women who have rough PMS and heavier periods.
Cons: You have to remember to take them every day. They can cause side effects like headaches, weight gain, and nausea. The pill isn’t recommended for women who smoke.
Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
There are all different types of IUDs, some of which use no hormones and some of which do. In either case, the general concept is the same. Your gynecologist inserts the device into your uterus, where it hangs out and prevents a fertilized egg from attaching. These devices really do have a 99% success rate, which is pretty awesome.
Again, depending on the type of device you select, your IUD will work for anywhere from five to 10 years. When you’re ready to get pregnant, your doctor will remove the device and you’ll be good to go. This is a smart option for women who know they don’t’ want children for at least another five years and who fear they’ll forget to take the pill.
Pros: You don’t have to remember to take anything, ever – and you also have a sold, hormone-free option if you want it (typically made of copper). Also, low-hormone doses are also available. Once your IUD is removed, you can get pregnant during your next cycle.
Cons: You will have to go in for a procedure when it’s time to insert/remove it. Also, IUDs range from $300 to about $500. However, when you deduct the insurance portion, and divide it by the months/years you’ll be using it, it’s pretty affordable. There is also a very rare chance you could develop pelvic inflammatory disease or a perforated (punctured) uterus.
Other Popular Birth Control Options for Women in their 20s
You can also talk to your doctor about other birth control options, such as vaginal rings, the Depo-Provera shot and birth control patches.
Want to have a deeper discussion about the type of birth control that makes sense for you? Schedule an appointment with us here at Overlake. We provide top-notching care to women in their 20s, 30s, 50s and beyond.