• Which Type of Birth Control Is Right for You?

    on Mar 1st, 2018

At least nine out of 10 women use birth control at some point during their reproductive years. Although many women know about the most popular forms of contraception, such as the pill or condoms, there are over a dozen different types of birth control available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.   

When you’re searching for the birth control method that fits your life best, it’s important to know what your options are and understand how each option meets — or doesn’t meet — your personal needs.

At Rose City Urgent Care & Family Practice, we strive to help our patients make an informed decision so they can feel confident in their choice of contraception.

Five categories of contraception

If you’re ready to learn more about your birth control options, read on. There are five main categories of contraception, and each contains a variety of options.

Hormonal methods

Hormonal birth control prevents ovulation so your eggs can’t be fertilized. Some use estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation, while others only contain progestin.

Combined hormonal methods, including the pill, the contraceptive patch, and the vaginal ring, contain both estrogen and progestin, while progestin-only methods include the shot and the mini-pill. Progestin-releasing IUDs and implants are also available.

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)

LARC methods include implants and IUDs. An implant is a tiny, flexible rod that’s placed under your skin, where it releases progestin to prevent ovulation. An IUD is a T-shaped device a doctor places in your uterus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg.

There are two types of IUDs: A copper-releasing IUD, which can remain in place for up to 10 years, emits copper ions, which are toxic to sperm. A progestin-releasing IUD emits progestin to prevent ovulation. Progestin IUDs can stay in place for three to five years, depending on the brand.   

Although implant and IUD devices are designed to remain in place for several years, they can also be removed by a gynecologist at any time.  

Barrier methods

This type of birth control blocks sperm from entering your uterus. Male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps are barrier methods, as are spermicidal foams, sponges and films.

Permanent birth control

Permanent birth control, also known as sterilization, may be done surgically or nonsurgically. Surgical sterilization is usually accomplished with a tubal ligation that cuts, ties, or seals off your fallopian tubes. Nonsurgical sterilization requires the insertion of an implant to permanently block your fallopian tubes.

Emergency contraception

Emergency birth control is meant to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or birth control failure, such as condom breakage. The most effective form of emergency contraception is a copper IUD. Emergency contraceptive pills are the second most effective option.  

Match your options to your needs

To figure out which form of birth control meets your contraception needs and fits your lifestyle best, you’ll need to consider several important factors. For many women, this decision can be made much easier by having a thorough conversation with a women’s health expert that covers the following:

Your health and medical history

That said, many women are able to safely take combined hormonal methods like the pill, and these methods can actually provide substantial benefits outside of contraception. If you’re affected by heavy, irregular periods, for example, a hormonal method can give you lighter, more regular periods. Hormonal birth control may also decrease your risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

Your level of comfort with the method

Birth control is only fully effective when it’s used properly, which is why it’s imperative that you’re comfortable with the method you choose. If you’re not someone who will remember to take a pill every day at roughly the same time, then the pill probably isn’t for you.

If you’ve decided to use condoms as your primary form of contraception, then you shouldn’t be scared to make sure your partner uses them correctly. As you learn about each method, think about how easy or challenging it seems to be to incorporate into your life. Any method that seems off-putting probably isn’t the method for you.

Your number of sexual partners

If you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship, using a single form of regular birth control like the pill, an IUD, or an insert is often sufficient.

If you have multiple partners, however, you may want to consider using more than one type of birth control. Specifically, you may want to use both your primary form of contraception, such as the pill or an IUD, along with a condom. While the condom does provide further protection against pregnancy, it also helps protect you from sexually-transmitted infections.

Your future family planning desires

If you’re done having children, you may want to consider permanent birth control, or sterilization. This is the most common method used by women who are finished having children, but who haven’t yet reached menopause.

Permanent birth control can also be an option for women who have health issues that would make pregnancy dangerous. Permanent birth control isn’t recommended for women who aren’t certain about their future family planning desires.

The team at Rose City Urgent Care & Family Practice is ready to help you find the birth control method that best suits your life.

In addition to serving patients from two locations in Portland, Oregon, we also have offices in Gresham, Milwaukie, and Tigard. Call the office nearest you today, or make an appointment using our convenient online booking tool.

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