Which contraceptive is right for you?

With over 15 different birth control methods for a woman to choose from, deciding which contraceptive will work best for you, your lifestyle and most importantly your body, can be a daunting affair. As mentioned on the ‘Birth Control’ page, contraceptives fall into several categories, including hormonal, long term, and natural. However there are also different types of birth control within these categories.

The table below shows the various contraceptives within the different categories. Some options fit into more than one category.

Hormonal Birth Control  Long Term Birth Control    Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Combined pill                    Implant                                Caps

Mini pill                              IUD                                      Female Condoms

Patch                                 IUS                                      IUD

Vaginal Ring                     Contraceptive Injection        Diaphragm

Implant                             Female sterilisation             Natural Family Planning

Contraceptive Injection             --                                       --

IUS                                           --                                       --

Issues to consider

When deciding on a birth control method, a number of issues will have to be considered. These include: How effective is the method? Can it fit into your daily routine? Are you planning to try to conceive in the near future? Are you a smoker? Are you overweight? Are you able to use hormones? All these factors should be considered when deciding which contraceptive is right for you.

How effective a contraceptive is will be a major factor for the majority of women seeking a birth control method. When used correctly, options like the combined pill are more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Barrier contraceptives (such as condoms) are 95% effective.

Fitting your birth control into your daily schedule is another important thing to consider when making your contraceptive choice. For women who are organised and efficient, there would be no issues in remembering to take your daily pill or change your patch every week. However, for women who are not very organised, these methods may not be the best and could cause an unplanned pregnancy to occur. Longer-lasting birth control such as the injection or the implant may be a better choice.

If you smoke...

If you are a smoker or overweight, your choice of birth control may be slightly more limited. Women who smoke or have a BMI over 35 may be advised not to use contraceptives like the pill or the vaginal ring, due to an increased risk associated with taking oestrogen. Likewise, women who are over 35 years old will usually be directed to use an alternative such as the mini pill, implant, and injection – all birth control methods containing progestogen only.

Other women, for various reasons such as breastfeeding or medical conditions, are unable to use any birth control that contains hormones. The IUD, IUS, and condoms are suitable alternatives.

What if I plan to get pregnant?

If you wish to get pregnant in the future, some contraceptive methods may be more appropriate than others. Although your fertility levels will return to normal after coming off birth control, how long this takes can vary for each method. For women who are planning to have a family sooner rather than later, medical professionals advising using the IUD, IUS, implant or barrier contraception to ensure your fertility is restored as soon as possible.

Deciding which birth control method is right for you is vital for protecting yourself as much as possible against unwanted pregnancy. It is important to note, however, that aside from barrier contraceptives like condoms, contraceptives will not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

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