What Are My Birth Control Options?

by Amy Hendel, P.A. Health Writer

There is a lot of talk about teenage unwanted pregnancies. Yet, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy in Washington D.C., the majority of unplanned pregnancies and abortions are actually occurring among women in their 20s. And 4 in 10 of those unwanted pregnancies are happening to 20+ year old women who have some college education. For some, having the baby is the only alternative, whether or not the consequences of this decision may have long term negative outcomes. For others, the new life, though unplanned, brings great joy. Still, for others, abortion offers a solution to an unwanted pregnancy, though most women agree that abortion is not a panacea. So how does one avoid becoming pregnant in the first place?

It all begins with birth control options and which one fits your personality, lifestyle and especially your sex life. Even before that, though, you do need to adopt the mantra, "I will be compulsive when it comes to birth control." In order to achieve effective birth control and consistently avoid becoming pregnant, you need to follow the rules of your choice method, all the time. To guide your choice, you need to ask:

  • Do I want a long-term, in-place option?

  • Can I remember to take a daily pill?

  • Do I have any health conditions that might make certain birth control options a health risk?

  • Am I taking any medicines that might interact with certain birth control methods?

  • Do I want a method that is easily reversible?

  • Do I want the birth control to address other concerns (like STDs)?

You will certainly want to see a doctor and have the answers to those questions ready so that you can make the best birth control choice that will be effective and match your profile. If you choose birth control pills and tend to be forgetful and disorganized - your birth control method will fail because of non-compliance. A device like an IUD might be a better choice for you. If you just want birth control short term, because you are married and thinking about children in the next couple of years, then you may want a type of IUD that is removed after one year. Here's a rundown of the most popular birth control methods:

  • (1) Say no to sex, or total abstinence.

  • (2) Barrier methods - condom, sponge, cervical cap

  • (3) Oral hormone methods - Birth control pills

  • (4) Hormone delivered by device - Norplant, NuvaRing, Mirena, Ortho Evra

  • (5) Hormone injection - Depo Provera

  • (5) Copper IUD - Paraguard

  • (6) Surgical procedures - Tubal ligation

  • (7) Emergency contraception - pill or copper IUD (a choice that is selective for a specific situation only)

You may find that at different points in your life your birth control choices will change. The point is to realize that there are a variety of birth control options, and with a bit of information and some guidance from your health professional, you will be able to find one that is a "good fit" for both you and your lifestyle.

Amy Hendel, P.A.
Meet Our Writer
Amy Hendel, P.A.

Known as "The HealthGal", Amy Hendel P.A. is a medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, health coach and brand ambassador. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, find her on Twitter @Healthgal1103 and on Facebook @TheHealthGal. Check “Daily Health News” at healthgal.com. Her personal mantra? “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”