Contraception is a personal choice, and for many women, that choice is not easy. While contraceptive methods all have the same goal of preventing pregnancy, they all vary in how they do so, whether it’s through hormonal or physical barriers. With the dozens of kinds of birth control methods to choose from and various myths and fears about each one, women may feel restricted in their choices. However, it’s important to be educated about each birth control method, so that you can decide which one is right for you when consulting with your doctor.
Personal Factors for Birth Control
Your personal reasons for choosing birth control matter just as much as the birth control method you choose. One birth control method may work for one woman, but not another due to lifestyle or health reasons. All birth controls have their own pros and cons, and depending on your personal factors, the cons may outweigh the pros.
Before choosing a birth control method, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to have children? When?
- Do you have unprotected sex?
- Do you need protection against STDs and HIV?
- Are you able to follow a routine schedule of taking your birth control every day?
Depending on your answers to these questions, you may find that one kind of birth control may not fit your lifestyle and plans for the future.
Hormonal Birth Control Methods
Hormonal birth control methods manipulate a woman’s hormones to control or prevent ovulation from occurring. Nowadays, all methods of hormonal birth control are considered effective, but some are considered more ‘short-action’ means of preventing pregnancy than others, meaning that they must be scheduled and taken on time in order to prevent pregnancy. This extra effort to take these methods may not be right for some who lead active, busy lifestyles.
‘Short-action’ birth control methods include:
- Birth control pills – often the most popular method, birth control pills usually have to be taken every day
- Injectable birth control – known as “the shot”, this kind of birth control is directly injected into the woman’s body once every three months to regulate hormones
- Patch – a patch that is placed on a woman’s body, which is then absorbed into the skin. This patch has to be replaced every week for effectiveness
- Vaginal ring – a ring that is placed inside the vagina, giving a combination of hormones directly into the body. This ring has to be replaced once a month.
Another birth control method is IUD (intrauterine device). IUDs are small, T-shaped wires coated with copper or other hormones that a doctor will place inside the woman’s vagina. These can last up to 10 years.
Barrier Birth Control Methods
Some women may feel wary of manipulating their hormones for the sake of preventing pregnancy. For women that cannot, due to medical reasons or personal preference, take hormonal birth control, physical barrier methods may be right for them. Barrier birth control is meant to literally prevent the sperm from traveling into the uterus. These methods are usually enacted during sexual intercourse itself, so it’s important for both the woman and her partner to remember to use these contraceptive methods in order to successfully prevent pregnancy. A barrier method, such as condoms, also can prevent STDs.
Common barrier birth control methods include:
- Male or female condoms
- Diaphragm – cups inserted into the vagina to block sperm
- Sponge – placed into the vagina, and contains spermicide that kills any sperm from entering the uterus
- Spermicide – a type of birth control that comes in many forms, including creams, films, and gels, that kills sperm upon contact
Birth Control Consultation in New Jersey
Birth control methods, as you can see, come in all different forms. It’s important to remember that the only way to have the ultimate protection from both pregnancy and STDs is by using both a birth control method and wearing a condom during sex. If you are thinking about going on birth control, it’s important to consult with a doctor first in order to assess your needs, current medical conditions, and whether or not your current lifestyle is optimal for one of these methods. Dr. Anthony C. Quartell, M.D., and Associates have been treating patients for over 40 years in Livingston, New Jersey. For more information about birth control, Dr. Quartell’s other gynecological specialties, or to schedule an appointment, contact his office today!