With so many options and so much misinformation circulating when it comes to birth control, it can be hard to be sure you're making the right decision when it comes to choosing how to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
While any changes in birth control should be discussed with your doctor, there are some ways to educate yourself before your appointment to make sure the type of contraception you choose is best for your personal situation.
If you're in a committed, monogamous relationship:
As long as both partners have been tested for STI's and have come up clean, you can use a primary birth control method and don't have to worry about using condoms to prevent diseases.
Check out this website or stay tuned to this article to find out which primary form of birth control is best for you.
If you're treating another condition:
The pill is the most commonly used method of birth control used for treating other medical conditions: from painful periods to endometriosis to acne problems. Other hormonal methods can be used as well, so consult with your doctor to figure out which is best for you!
If you're casually hooking up with people:
Condoms are a must!
With new partners, especially during casual encounters when you don't know one another's sexual history, it's important to protect yourself not only from unintended pregnancy but also from sexually transmitted diseases. Use condoms and/or diaphragms during sex to keep yourself and your partner safe.
If you're planning on being on birth control for a long time:
Try the IUD or the implant! The ParaGard copper IUD lasts up to 10 years, the hormonal IUD lasts up to five years, and the implant lasts up to 3 years. They're all completely reversible at any time so you can still get pregnant if and when you choose to!
If you can't remember to take a pill every day:
Try a method that doesn't require a daily dose: IUD's, implants, patches, and shots only need to be taken care of every few weeks to many years at a time!
If you're trying to make sure someone won't find out:
Try the IUD! It's discrete and long-lasting so there's no worrying about making sure pills are concealed and patches aren't spotted. You should be able to reach the strings hanging past your cervix but even your partner might not be able to tell you have it in, much less someone else.
If you're on a budget:
Long-term birth control is the most cost-effective option in the long run as it doesn't need to be replaced more than once every 3-10 years, depending on the type. They can cost a lot up front but are more than worth it in the long run.
If you don't have insurance:
Try to find a health clinic in your area that offers free or low-cost contraceptives. Planned Parenthood can help out with financing birth control and some states offer grants that will cover the cost of long-term reversible birth control methods. Do your research and find some near you!
At the very least, you'll be able to get free condoms somewhere near you. Check out this nifty tool to find places nearby that offer free condoms, no questions asked!
If you don't want added hormones:
Try the copper IUD, ParaGard. The copper works as a sperm-repellant to prevent fertilization while not using hormones so you'll still experience normal menstrual changes, but your period may be crampier and last longer.
Condoms, sponges, cervical caps, spermicides, and diaphragms are other options for hormone-free birth control.
If you don't want to get your period:
Using the pill you can safely prevent your period for up to three months at a time by skipping the placebo week of pills and continually taking the regular ones. Be sure to ask your doctor to make sure that you won't suffer any unwanted side effects if you use the pill to skip periods.
Hormonal IUD's, the birth control shot, the implant (or rod), and the ring can also prevent periods but their effects vary from woman-to-woman so it might take some experimenting to discover which is the best method for your personal situation.
If something unexpected happens:
If the condom breaks or you forget to take a pill, you can take a Plan B pill or have a copper IUD inserted up to five days after unprotected sex. Their effectiveness varies based on a number of factors: from your BMI to how long you wait to get treatment after the unprotected sex takes place.
Some places you can get the morning after pill on the shelf and some other places you may have to ask at the pharmacy. They can be pretty pricey but the generic brand works just as well as the name brand.
Emergency contraception is a concentrated dose of hormones and should not be used as a regular form of birth control. Only take the morning after pill if you absolutely need to.