Your Guide To Choosing Birth Control

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • You are off to the doctor to discuss birth control, and depending on your age, your health and family history, your marital status, your religious beliefs and convenience and costs, you want to have a frank discussion.  Ultimately you want to make an informed decision about the birth control that works best with your lifestyle.  So you are better served if you come armed and ready with a list of questions, concerns and the desire to leave your gynecologists office with a birth control method that truly fits your personal needs.  Here is a guide to some of the questions you need to have answered so that you can make a sound birth control choice.

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    What are the different types of methods for birth control?

    You may think that you are familiar with all the current methods, but there have been recent additions to the available options.  Female condoms, implantable hormone methods and a birth control method that can temporarily terminate your menstrual cycle are all recent additions that you may want to know about.


    What is the method's effectiveness?

    Every birth control method has statistics associated with its ability to effectively prevent pregnancy.


    Is it a reversible (easily reversible) method?

    If you are single and having an intimate relationship with a boyfriend, or playing the field a bit, then you want a solid birth control method that will be incredibly effective.  An unplanned pregnancy for you may be far more challenging than for a woman who is married.  If you are sure you do not want to get pregnant for several years or for an extended period of time, then you may want a method in place that you do not need to replace for several years.  If you are married, and only want birth control for a short period of time, then you may want to choose a method that, when discontinued, will allow you to get pregnant reasonably quickly.

    How costly is this method?

    Your finances may be fixed and therefore you may not want to spend a monthly fee on birth control pills.  On the other hand, you may have insurance coverage for an IUD.

    Is it convenient?

    You may have a very busy schedule and want a method that requires few if any follow up visits to the doctor.  For others, convenient may mean few side effects, or it may mean no disruption of sex in order to implement the birth control method.

    Is it a good choice, considering my health profile and my family history?

    Certain methods are contraindicated if you are a smoker, have a past history of DVTs, or are over age 35.  Other choices may not be optimal if there is a personal or family history of breast cancer or other hormone mediated cancers.

    Does the method also protect me from STDs (or help prevent me from spreading an STD)?

    If you have herpes, you may want to consider a method that will also protect transmission to others; if you are single, and not in a monogamous relationship, then again, preventing exposure to STDs from another partner may be important to you.

    Does the method conform to any strong religious beliefs you have?

  • Certainly a consideration, if you are a strongly religious person.

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    Does the method appeal to your sexual partner?

    It may be a good idea if you are in a relationship or beginning a relationship, to discuss the choices with your partner before the visit.  If you choose a method that he objects to, then you may not use it consistently.

    Do you suffer from PMS, acne or other conditions that certain birth control methods might help?

    There is sometimes more to consider than just preventing a pregnancy.  Knowing that a birth control method can also treat other health issues may impact your choice.

    How long has this method been available and what are the possible negative side effects?

    Some people prefer a method that has a long track record and few, if any side effects.  Other people may be willing to trade side effects for convenience.  Other may want the latest, newly developed option.

    Is there a method that will allow me to terminate my menstrual cycle temporarily?

    You may want a choice of methods that will allow the convenience of not having a regular period until you want to consider a pregnancy.

    Is there an emergency method if my birth control fails?

    Be sure to discuss this option as well.


    Be clear in stating your needs to the doctor and remember to bring a pad and paper so you can take notes for review.  Also remember that it is very natural for your choices of birth control to change as you age, so you may decide to re-visit and discuss these options again at a later time.






Published On: May 07, 2009