Getting the right contraception method in place may take some experimentation. Daily oral birth control can be simpler, but your side effects may make some methods unusable. Each method has pros and cons to contend with. If your current method isn’t working, make sure you talk to your OBGYN about other options.
Nevertheless, here are nine different birth control options for you to consider.
1. Cycle Tracking
The least invasive method of birth control involves tracking your basal body temperature and your cervical mucus condition, so you can avoid sex during your most fertile period, or add a barrier method at that time.
Cycle tracking can be easily managed if your cycles are regular. However, if you’re coming off an oral contraceptive or hormonal implants, it’s a good idea to switch to a barrier method continuously for a few months to let your cycle become regular again.
2. Barrier Method
Condoms, diaphragms, and sponges are all considered barrier methods. The egg may or may not be fertile, but the sperm can’t get to it with a barrier. If you’re especially focused on avoiding pregnancy, you can pair condoms with a sponge or diaphragm for more confidence.
3. Spermicides and Gels
Similar to the barrier method, the addition of a spermicide, which kills the sperm, or a pH regulator gel, which immobilizes them, can be used alone or with another barrier method. Do test these products on the skin before doing a full application; spermicides can irritate the vagina and the penis, which makes you more vulnerable to infection. In the event of such irritation, make sure you visit an OBGYN. To find one in your area, you can simply search “obgyn near me” online.
4. Oral Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills come in a monthly dosage and functionally convince the body not to ovulate. Preventing pregnancy is just one of their benefits; many women get relief from ovulation and menstrual discomfort when on the pill. Birth control pills can also help prevent the following:
- Ovarian or breast cysts
- Iron deficiency
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
There are several different versions of birth control pills on the market. If the one you’re on leads to frustrating symptoms, such as very long periods or a lot of weight gain, talk to your OBGYN.
5. Hormonal Implants: Arm
Hormonal implants are permanent methods of birth control until you have them removed. Talk with your OBGYN about the side effects of such a treatment before you get the implant placed. For example, some arm implants can lead to irregular periods for up to a year.
If monitoring your cycle is important, these may not work. Additionally, insurance should cover the implant, but it may not cover the removal if you choose to have it taken out.
6. Hormonal Implants: Uterus
A copper or chemical IUD can also serve as a permanent birth control method until you have it removed. Your body may expel an IUD during a heavy period, though this is rare.
Hormonal IUDs release small doses of progesterone, which is also found in birth control pills and may lead to lighter periods over time. The copper IUD is permanent, while hormonal IUDs will need to be replaced after a preset amount of time.
Birth control injections (Depo-Provera is a popular one) can be an easy method of birth control. Generally, you will need one shot every 1 to 3 months depending on the manufacturer.
Do be sure to study the side effects of your planned shot. For some women, birth control shots lead to pain during sex and may put them at risk of rapid weight gain. Also, it is not recommended to use injections as a long-term method of birth control, as doing so can cause adverse effects to your body. It may even cause infertility.
If you notice any adverse symptoms of birth control shots, you and your OBGYN will want to go back to the drawing board.
The birth control patch is an easy way to get the hormones of the pill or a hormonal IUD. You simply apply the patch once a week for three weeks, then take a week off for menstruation. For women who can’t find a birth control pill that works well, or for couples who don’t care for barriers or permanent uterine implants, this is a worthwhile option.
If you really don’t want another child, or any children, you or your partner can undergo sterilization. Be aware that most women will need to be put under for a tubal ligation, while men can have a vasectomy as an outpatient treatment. Depending on your age, it may be hard to find a surgeon to provide this service.
As you can see, there are several different birth control options for you to choose from. Be sure to do your own research and speak to a healthcare provider to determine what the most effective and safest method is for you.