What You Need to Know About Birth Control

By Amy Hendel, R-PA

I can’t get pregnant – I just finished menstruating.”

“I can’t get pregnant – he didn’t really penetrate me (deeply, that is)”

“I can’t get pregnant – I’m nursing my newborn.’

‘I can’t get pregnant – this was my first time.”

Which of these statements is true? Actually, none of them are correct.  In each of these cases, the chances of getting pregnant are quite substantial.  The latest research shows that nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned.   In fact, if we use the year 2001 as a guideline, there were 6.4 million pregnancies and 4 million births.  There were 1.3 million abortions and 1.1 million miscarriages.  The pregnancies were evenly divided between intended and unintended (no contraception or failed contraception).  If no birth control is used, there is a 25% chance that intercourse will result in a pregnancy.  So if you don’t want to get pregnant, you need to be clear, very clear, on your choice of contraception, its success or failure rate, its possible negative side effects and most importantly, how to maximize its protection.

You first need to familiarize yourself with all the options available.  You need to consider your personal medical history, your family medical history (since some birth control methods may put you at risk for conditions that are even more heightened if they run in your family), your lifestyle, your age, your insurance, even you professional and personal goals.  If you are young, and have never been pregnant, some choices may not be offered since they can put you at risk for complications that can prevent pregnancy later on.  Some methods of birth control are simply not dependable, so if you are young and unmarried, they would be poor choices. 

Reversible methods of birth control include birth control methods that do not permanently alter or prevent pregnancy.  If fertility is somehow impacted by the method, fertility returns shortly after the reversible method is discontinued (though time intervals can vary).  There are a number of options under reversible methods.

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