What’s the Right Birth Control for You?

It’s hard to imagine that even a few decades ago, the topic of contraception was relatively hush-hush and there were few options out there for women who didn’t want to become mothers. Now, the options are nearly limitless. That’s great news for women who are sexually active, but it can be a bit confusing if you are trying to decide which form of birth control is right for you, or if you are having problems with your current method of birth control and are looking for a change.

Birth Control 101: Your Birth Control Options for the 21st Century

There are all kinds of options, both hormonal and non-hormonal. The following is a brief rundown, but we recommend you discuss the top contenders with your OB/GYN. Every woman’s body is different, what works best for one may not work for you.

We are going to cover some of the most popular forms of birth control for the women and patients here at Overlake.

Condoms. Success rate when used correctly: 98%. This is one of the most universal, affordable and readily available forms of birth control. Condoms are also the only form of protection from sexually transmitted diseases. If you are having sex with more than one partner, are having sex with someone who is probably having sex with more than one partner (even if they say they aren’t!), are having intercourse with a man who has had anal sex with other men, or if you or your partner use intravenous drugs – ALWAYS have sex with a condom. Condoms are more effective if you use spermicide with them. You can also use condoms with other forms of birth control for double protection.

Birth Control Pills. Success rate when taken as prescribed: 99+%. Birth control pills manipulate your body’s hormones to prevent you from becoming pregnant. However, they must be taken every single day, at the same time, in order to be the most effective. Because they use hormones, birth control pills can have a range of side effects, depending on which hormones are affected. There are a myriad of different pills out there so you and your doctor can work on finding the one that has the least amount of side effects for you.

Patches and shots. Success rate if used as prescribed: 99+% Birth control patches and birth control shots work similarly to the pill. The advantage is that they are only administered once a week (patch), or once every three months, so you don’t have to remember to take them every day. Again, since they do affect your body’s natural hormone production, these time-released methods can cause side effects that are similar to hormone imbalance. Trial and error will help you determine whether or not these are the right options for you.

Intrauterine Devices (IUD). IUDs are almost 100% effective at preventing pregnancy if implemented correctly. There are two types. One is copper, called Paragard, the other uses the hormone progestin to prevent eggs from releasing. In either case, the device (which looks like a T or an anchor) is inserted into the uterus and prevents the egg and sperm from joining. Copper IUDs can last for up to 12 years, the version that secretes small levels of progestin last about six years.

Tubal ligation. Success rate if the procedure is performed correctly: almost 100%. This is another form of permanent birth control. Tubal ligation requires surgery. The doctor will make incisions and tie off the fallopian tubes (hence, the reason it’s often referred to as “getting your tubes tied”) so the eggs can’t be fertilized by sperm.

Breastfeeding, Rhythm Method, etc. Many women consider breastfeeding, the rhythm method and other means of predicting their body’s hormonal rhythms to prevent conception by avoiding sex when they’re most likely to conceive. As OB/GYNs, we can’t really count these as tried-and-true birth control methods. We have assisted mothers in the delivery of more babies than we can count who were conceived using these methods. They simply aren’t very effective.

Have questions about which birth control form is right for you? Schedule an appointment with Overlake OB/GYN and we’ll be happy to provide more information and help you make your decision.