Nearly 65% of women of childbearing age rely on contraception to space out pregnancies or avoid them altogether. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common forms are sterilization, long-acting, reversible contraceptives, and the pill.
Although you have many options, it can be overwhelming to choose the right form for you. The “right” form of birth control varies from woman to woman depending on overall health, family planning preferences, and age.
If you’re starting birth control for the first time, know that you’re not alone. Our board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists at OBGYN Westside PLLC, on the Upper West Side of New York City, are experts at recommending the right birth control to women.
Here’s what you need to know when choosing birth control for the first time.
Will you want children (eventually)?
One of the first decisions you need to make is if you want reversible or permanent birth control.
Reversible birth control options
Reversible contraceptives prevent pregnancy without permanently affecting your fertility. You might consider a reversible contraceptive if you know you want children eventually but aren’t ready, or if you haven’t decided if your family is complete yet.
Short-acting birth control 一 a type of reversible birth control option that must be used or taken on a daily or monthly basis 一 includes both barrier and hormonal options. Short-term methods are effective but still very easy to reverse. In some cases, such as condoms and cervical caps, you simply cease using them when you’re ready to start a family.
The biggest downside to short-acting, reversible contraception is that they all require diligence. For example, if you miss your pill or don’t take it on time, its effectiveness may be compromised.
If you prefer long-term protection, you may opt for long-acting, reversible birth control methods instead of a short-term method. Examples include intrauterine devices (IUDs) as well as implants and shots.
You might consider a longer-term contraception method if your work schedule changes regularly, which would make taking a pill at the same time every day more challenging. You might also choose an IUD if you know it’ll be a few years before you’re ready for children and don’t want to mess with daily, weekly, or monthly birth control methods.
Types of reversible birth control
Regardless of whether you want long-term or short-term protection, you also need to consider what type of reversible birth control you want. This includes Hormonal and Barrier methods.
Hormonal birth control, including the pill and certain IUD options (the copper IUD isn’t hormonal), prevents unwanted pregnancy by delivering certain hormones. Barrier-based contraception prevents unwanted pregnancy by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.
These options include condoms, diaphragms, and withdrawal. Keep in mind, however, that the effectiveness of barrier-based methods is often dependent on how well the device is used. For example, wearing the wrong size condom can reduce its effectiveness.
Another factor to consider: Condoms help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) while other forms of birth control, including pills and IUDs, don’t.
Is your family complete?
Permanent birth control prevents pregnancy by permanently altering your fertility and is sometimes called sterilization. A vasectomy is an example of a permanent birth control option for men, while tubal ligation or salpingectomy is a permanent form of birth control for women.
This procedure stops unwanted pregnancy by preventing sperm from reaching an egg. You might choose this option if you know you’ll never want children, if your family is complete, or if you have a medical condition that makes pregnancy dangerous for you.
How to choose the right method
We know there’s a lot to figure out when you’re exploring birth control for the first time, but the good news is that this isn’t a decision you ever have to make alone. Our team helps you find the birth control that’s right for you.
We look at many factors, including your age and overall health, your family planning preferences, how soon (or if) you’d like to start a family, and if your family is already complete.
We also are one of the only gynecology offices that offers nitrous oxide for IUD placements so you can remain comfortable throughout your procedure.
]To schedule your birth control counseling appointment, call our office or book online today.