When considering which birth control option to use, women have a wide range of options to choose from. Birth control comes in pills, patches, injections and many other formulations. Additionally, when taken correctly, most forms of birth control are highly effective at preventing pregnancy. The choice of birth control generally comes down to personal choice and your own medical history.
What To Consider When Choosing Birth Control
The following factors are things to consider when choosing the birth control method that will suit your needs. This includes
- How long you intend to use birth control.
- Your ability to take pills on a routine and regular basis.
- A preference for a short-acting method (ie. birth control pills, skin patch, injection) versus a long-acting method (ie. copper IUD, the hormonal IUD or implant). Short-acting methods are used on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Long-acting methods last for 3-10 years after insertion — depending on the device — or until you decide to have the device removed.
Alongside your personal preference, your doctor will also consider other factors when recommending birth control such as your current and past medical history.
Brief Overview of Different Birth Control Options
Birth control pills
Pills are a highly effective option for birth control. Birth control pills must be taken daily and consistently. The first three weeks of pills contain a combination of estrogen and progesterone, and the fourth week’s pills are inactive. The inactive pills allow your menstrual period to begin.
An adhesive patch is placed inconspicuously on the skin for one week at a time. Hormones are delivered transdermally (from the patch to the skin). The patch is replaced on the same day each week, then removed the fourth week to allow the menstrual cycle to begin.
The contraceptive injection is another hormonal birth control option. It involves one injection that lasts three months, making it another low-maintenance choice. An injection is needed every three months, usually given at a doctor’s office.
A diaphragm is a round piece of flexible rubber with a rigid rim. The diaphragm is placed in the vagina and against the cervix. The diaphragm prevents semen from entering the womb. Spermicide must be used with a diaphragm.
A long-acting type of birth control. With this form of birth control, a matchstick-sized implant is inserted in the upper arm. The implant slow-releases contraceptive hormones for up to three years. It can be removed at any time. The implant is one of the more low-maintenance birth control methods available.
Intrauterine device (IUD)
The IUD is a small, t-shaped device that is placed into the uterus and lasts from 3-12 years (depending on the brand). Once the IUD has been inserted, women do not need to take any further steps to prevent pregnancy. The IUD can be removed at any time and pregnancy may happen quickly after.
A vaginal ring is placed in the vagina near the cervix and slow-releases contraceptive hormones for three weeks at a time. It is then removed for one week to allow the menstrual period to begin. Vaginal rings need to be replaced monthly.
Ultimately, the best method of birth control for you is one that works well for you. It should be safe and comfortable to use. Additionally, if a short-acting birth control method is chosen, it is important that you are able to take it regularly and consistently. Birth control is only effective if used properly.
To find out more about the right contraception option, make an appointment to speak to one of our doctors.
Physicians and Midwives, an Advantia Health Practice
Physicians and Midwives is a unique collaborative practice you won’t find anywhere else. We have 5 offices for your convenience all across Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, North Arlington, Mt. Vernon, Kingstowne, and Woodbridge. If you would like to be listened to, as well as cared for, then look no further.