Birth Control Basics
If you’re considering using birth control, you have many options — from natural family planning and over-the-counter birth control products to prescription contraceptives or sterilization.
To help determine which birth control method would be best for you, consider your lifestyle, personal preferences and health status. How do you feel about planning for sex? Inserting birth control devices into your body? Taking a pill at the same time every day or tracking your fertile days? Permanently ending the ability to conceive or father a child?
It’s also important to make an honest assessment of yourself, your partner and your relationship. You may have different birth control needs if you have sex often or you’re not in a monogamous relationship. Ideally, you and your partner will discuss the options and reach a mutually beneficial decision.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are a common type of contraception. If you’re considering taking birth control pills, you may have more choices than you’d think.
You’ll start by choosing either combination birth control pills or minipills. If you choose combination birth control pills, you’ll have another choice, conventional packs or continuous dosing. With conventional birth control pills, you’ll have a period every month. With continuous dosing birth control pills, you may have a period only four times a year or eliminate your period entirely.
Of course, each type of birth control pill has its own risks and benefits. Understand the basics, then work with your health care provider to determine the best birth control pill for you.
Long-acting Reversible Contraception
If you know you want to become pregnant someday, just not anytime soon, long-acting reversible contraception may be a good choice for you. With long-acting reversible contraception, you get effective birth control with little day-to-day hassle.
Options for long-acting reversible contraception include:
- An intrauterine device (Mirena, ParaGard, Skyla)
- A contraceptive implant (Nexplanon)
- A contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera)
You need a prescription from your doctor for this type of birth control. Besides its effectiveness and ease of use, long-acting reversible contraception allows for a return to fertility once you stop using the contraception. With the intrauterine device and contraceptive implant, the return to fertility is prompt. With the contraceptive injection, return to fertility may take a little longer.
The intrauterine device or contraceptive implant requires a visit to your doctor for removal if you decide you no longer want to use this type of birth control.